×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

No ‘Silence,’ But Paramount Still Boasts Prestige Power at CinemaCon

New films from Robert Zemeckis, Stephen Frears and Denis Villeneuve could navigate the circuit later this year.

LAS VEGAS — The oddest note in Paramount PicturesCinemaCon presentation Monday night, kicking off four days of footage reveals and seminars at the annual motion picture exhibitors trade show, was the exclusion of Martin Scorsese’s “Silence.” The Oscar-winning director’s latest film, expected to hit theaters this fall, is a presumed awards hopeful on paper. But it didn’t even warrant a mention. Nevertheless, the studio had plenty of prestige potential to show off.

Beginning with a bit of a surprise, Robert Zemeckis’ “Allied” was previewed with a solid assemblage of polished footage featuring Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard. The World War II drama was directed by Oscar-winning filmmaker Robert Zemeckis (“Forrest Gump”) from a script by Oscar-nominated writer Steven Knight (“Dirty Pretty Things”). It’s also producer Graham King’s first real play along these lines since his last collaboration with Scorsese, 2011’s “Hugo.” He won the best picture Oscar for “The Departed” in 2007.

Paramount Vice Chairman Rob Moore was careful to mention that the film is “barely into production,” but the footage was nevertheless slick and wide-ranging. Pitt stars as an intelligence officer in 1942 North Africa who encounters Cotillard’s French Resistance fighter on a deadly mission behind enemy lines. It sure sports the usual trappings of a latter year circuit push, and Paramount — still looking for an Oscar home run after strong showings from films like “The Fighter,” “True Grit,” “The Wolf of Wall Street” and “The Big Short” in recent years — planted its flag with gusto: the studio announced a Nov. 23 release date, right in the thick of awards season. A New York Film Festival bow could make a lot of sense; Zemeckis’ last two films, “Flight” and “The Walk,” premiered there.

Also on offer was a look at Stephen Frears’ “Florence Foster Jenkins.” The film boasts a handsome aesthetic typical of Frears’ work and appears to be a strong play for actress Meryl Streep, who sets a new record every time she nabs an Academy Award nomination. She stars as the eponymous Jenkins, an amateur early-20th Century opera singer famous (or perhaps infamous) for her poor singing skills, and Streep looks like she’s having an absolute ball in the role. Hugh Grant and Simon Helberg also star in what could be, if not an Oscar player, perhaps something for comedy/musical Golden Globe consideration. The film hits theaters Aug. 12.

Finally, and perhaps a taller Academy order given its genre trappings, there was Denis Villeneuve’s “Story of Your Life.” A science-fiction yarn about an alien invasion and the team assembled to make first contact, it has a moody and controlled look, typical of the French-Canadian filmmaker. “Incendies,” “Prisoners” and “Sicario” all managed a little Oscar love, so who knows?

Obviously other fun offerings like “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows” and “Baywatch” won’t find themselves scooping up awards that aren’t made out of golden popcorn, but Timur Bekmambetov’s “Ben-Hur” should at least be mentioned. The 1959 iteration of the beloved Lew Wallace book still shares the record for most Oscar wins in history (11, with “Titanic” and “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”). But Bekmambetov’s vision — an action-packed adventure aimed at modern audiences — won’t likely be treading those waters. The riveting chariot race sequence, for instance, has been turned up to 11, far more brutal and visceral.

Also previewed were a set of stills from Denzel Washington’s forthcoming adaptation of August Wilson’s play “Fences.” Washington stars alongside Viola Davis. As a director, Washington has flirted with the season before with 2007’s “The Great Debaters” and his 2002 debut “Antwone Fisher,” but with Tony- and Pulitzer Prize-winning source material like this, he could really score.

Other prestige pics expected to show their wares this week include Nate Parker’s “The Birth of a Nation,” “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” from two-time best director Oscar winner Ang Lee, Warner Bros.’ “Harry Potter” spin-off “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” and Tate Taylor’s “The Girl on the Train,” based on the bestseller.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Joe Anthony Russo

    Russo Brothers to Receive Publicists Motion Picture Showman Award

    Hollywood union publicists have selected the Russo Brothers to receive the Motion Picture Showman of the Year Award. Anthony and Joe Russo, who directed “Avengers: Endgame,” will receive the award at the 57th Annual Publicists Awards ceremony on Feb. 7 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. The publicists are part of the Intl. Cinematographers Guild, IATSE [...]

  • Sylvester Stallone on Rambo's Return: A

    Sylvester Stallone on Rambo's Return: 'The Warrior Can Never Find Peace'

    Sylvester Stallone may be 73, but he’s not one to sit back in his twilight years. As his legendary body slows, his output certainly hasn’t. This Friday, “Rambo: Last Blood” hits theaters around the world – 37 years after the debut of “Rambo: First Blood.” Why bring the muscled Vietnam veteran back for a final, [...]

  • VINCENZO-NATALI

    Vincenzo Natali to Open Sitges Pitchbox (EXCLUSIVE)

    Like Ron Perlman in 2018 and Guillermo del Toro the year before, Canadian writer-director Vincenzo Natali, whose new Netflix film, an adaption of Steven King’s “In the Tall Grass” will innaugurate October’s Sitges Film Festival, is lined up to open this year’s Sitges Pitchbox, organized in by Barcelona-based platform Filmarket Hub. The Sitges Pitchbox take [...]

  • "Tezuka's Barbara" in competition at Tokyo

    ‘Tezuka’s Barbara’ and ‘A Beloved Wife’ Head for Tokyo Festival Competition

    Two Japanese films, “Tezuka’s Barbara” and “A Beloved Wife” have been selected for the main competition section of next month’s Tokyo International Film Festival. The festival will reveal the remainder of the competition and the bulk of its other selections later this month. To date the Japanese festival has only revealed its opening film (“Tora-san, [...]

  • Garin Nugroho film "Memories of my

    Indonesia Selects Controversial 'Memories of My Body' as Oscar Contender

    “Memories of My Body,” directed by Garin Nugroho, has been selected to represent Indonesia at the Academy Awards in the international feature film category (previously best foreign-language film). The announcement was made Tuesday by actress Christine Hakim representing the Indonesian Film Selection Committee. The fact-based film depicts the story of a young man from a [...]

  • Benjamin Wallfisch - scoring session, Abbey

    Composer Benjamin Wallfisch Signs With Gorfaine/Schwartz Agency

    Composer Benjamin Wallfisch has signed with the Gorfaine/Schwartz Agency (GSA) for worldwide representation, in partnership with London-based agency COOL Music Ltd. A top composer, whose scoring credits include “It Chapter Two,” Shazam!” Hellboy,” “Hidden Figures” and “Hostile Planet,” among others, Wallfisch has worked on over 75 feature films and is a member of the BAFTA [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content