David Cronenberg dared CinemaCon attendees to sleep well tonight.
The director, an architect of the body horror genre with “A History of Violence,” “Dead Ringers” and “The Fly,” made his first-ever trip to Las Vegas to showcase his next grisly film “Crimes of the Future,” testing the stomachs of movie theater owners across the nation.
“It seems an appropriate place to launch our attack on the world with ‘Crimes of the Future,'” Cronenberg told the crowd at Caesars Palace in reference to Sin City.
Though Cronenberg says he started writing the screenplay 20 years ago, Neon, the film’s distributor, called “Crimes of the Future” an “evolution of David’s work: past, present and future.” Without detailing any specifics, it will contain “key references to his previous films.”
As for the never-before-seen footage, it begins with a man who has several sets of ears on his head and concludes as a woman rips open a man’s stomach with her finger and slides her tongue closer to the open wound.
Set in a world where the human species adapt to a synthetic environment and their bodies undergo disturbing transformations and mutations, “Crimes of the Future” centers on a celebrity couple (played by Viggo Mortensen and Léa Seydoux) who have turned the horrifying process into avant-garde performance art. All the while, their every move is being tracked by an investigator from the National Organ Registry named Timlin (Kristen Stewart). They’re converging around one mission, believing organ transplants will lead to the next phase of human evolution.
“We all thought the body was empty…empty of meaning,” Seydoux’s character says in the trailer. “We wanted to confirm it so we could fill it with meaning.”
Her husband, played by frequent Cronenberg collaborator Mortensen adds, “The world is a much more dangerous place now that pain has disappeared.”
After the creepy first-look, Neon’s distribution president Elissa Federoff called the footage “wonderful,” to laughter from the crowd.
Following its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, “Crimes of the Future” will open in theaters on June 5.
CinemaCon attendees also got an exclusive look at “Moonage Daydream,” a David Bowie film that’s been described as ““neither documentary nor biography, but an immersive cinematic experience.” It’s expected to hit theaters in September.
Brett Morgen, known for “Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck,” “Jane” and “The Kid Stays in the Picture,” directed the project and came to Las Vegas to shed a little light on “Moonage Dream,” which is based on thousands of hours of rare performance footage of the musician and more than 500 assets from Bowie’s archive. It’s the first film to be officially sanctioned by Bowie’s estate.
“Bowie cannot be defined, he can be experienced,” Morgen said. “That is why we crafted ‘Moonage Daydream,’ to be a unique cinematic experience.”
Morgen, who said he spent two years “scrolling through every piece of material in the Bowie archive” to craft the film, looked up to the music icon as a child.
“David was there to show me it was OK to be myself. That my differences were my strengths,” Morgen told the audience. “In 1971, that idea was radical. In 2022, it is mainstream. That’s why David Bowie is the perfect star for this moment.”
Former Warner Bros. executive and producer Bill Gerber compared “Moonage Daydream” to Bradley Cooper’s “A Star Is Born,” in the sense that they were both a “sonic and visual extravaganza that requires state-of-the-art audio.”
With all due respect to Jackson and Ally Maine, but “Moonage” blew about 100 miles past the visual language of “A Star Is Born,” with the former drenched in acidic hues, trippy camera angles and abstract skits woven with ear-splitting archive footage from Bowie’s festival and arena tours.
Neon’s upcoming slate also includes, “Fire of Love,” a documentary examining the love story between two intrepid scientists who died in a volcanic explosion.