“The Happytime Murders,” the film in question, seems certain to shatter quite a number of childhood memories and taboos, and presents the newbie studio with perhaps its best chance at major box office success. McCarthy produces and headlines the hard R comedy, which is directed by Brian Henson, the head of the Jim Henson Company and a puppeteer in his own right. Footage from the film featured puppets offering oral sex to McCarthy, cursing like teamsters, and, in one uproarious scene, ejaculating all over a dingy office. The whole thing makes “Ted” look like “Fraggle Rock.”
Since launching in 2014, STX has struggled at times to find its footing. It scored with the “Bad Moms” movies and “The Foreigner,” but other pictures such as “Free State of Jones” and “The Space Between Us” haven’t exactly lit the world on fire. Still, the company maintains that it is making progress and filling a void left open by franchise-obsessed studios. Its strategy is to make more modestly budgeted films with big names and easily digestible concepts.
During his remarks at CinemaCon’s Las Vegas stage, STX Films Chairman Adam Fogelson promised “an entire slate of nothing but stars in signature roles.” That translates into the likes of “Peppermint,” a revenge thriller with Jennifer Garner, and “Adrift,” a survival drama with Sam Claflin and Shailene Woodley. Both films screened extended trailers for the assembled exhibitors with Garner taking the stage to talk up her extensive training regimen and Woodley praising “Adrift” as a story of “two people stripped to their core.”
Parts of the hour-plus presentation seemed overly lubricated. Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg presented footage of “Mile 22” while slurring their words and confessing that they’d been indulging in “lots of wine.” The audience laughed awkwardly as Wahlberg pretended to cup Fogelson’s posterior and complimented Berg’s “hard nipples.”
With a media-heavy crowd on hand, what happens in Vegas, won’t stay in Vegas.