CinemaCon: Disney Plays Hold ‘Em in Vegas, Announces ‘Wreck-It Ralph 2’ Details

LAS VEGAS — Disney can be forgiven for phoning it in.

Fresh off a $7 billion year at the global box office, the studio raced through its upcoming releases at a sprinter’s pace during a 12 and a half minute presentation at Cinemacon on Tuesday. There was no footage from “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” or “Thor Ragnarok.” Nor did Disney use the gathering of theater owners to debut a preview for “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” the mere mention of which was enough to have the crowd at Caesar’s Palace whooping and clapping.

Most studios come to Cinemacon, the annual exhibition industry trade show unfolding this week in Las Vegas, armed with A-list actors, new trailers, and promotional art. Their presentations can stretch on for hours. Not so Disney, which likes to unveil that sort of thing at D23, its in-house fan event.

Despite the cursory effort, Disney distribution chief Dave Hollis did make some news, announcing that the followup to 2012’s “Wreck-It Ralph” will be entitled “Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2.” Hollis also said that Jane Lynch will join a voice cast that includes John C. Reilly and Sarah Silverman.

Instead, the presentation served as a victory lap of sorts, albeit one taken at a feverish clip. Hollis noted that four Disney films last year made more than $1 billion worldwide — “Captain America: Civil War,” “Zootopia,” “Finding Dory,” and “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.” One other film, “The Jungle Book,” took in just shy of that number, with $966 million globally.

The result justify Disney’s decision to stick to making a few big films from branded properties such as Marvel and Lucasfilm, the makers of the Avengers and Star Wars, respectively.

“2016 for us was the year when the stars absolutely aligned,” said Hollis, attributing the result to “a deliberate strategy to engage audiences with …branded [intellectual property] from the greatest storytellers alive.

The strategy isn’t just paying off commercially. Disney releases averaged a Rotten Tomatoes score of 80%, showing critics liked them, and an A CinemaScore, an indication that the general public agreed with the reviews.

“We gave audiences what they were looking for,” said Hollis.

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