CinemaCon 2019: Universal Showcases 'Hobbs & Shaw', 'Downton Abbey', and More

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Universal Pictures kicked off Wednesday of 2019’s CinemaCon event with a presentation showcasing their upcoming slate of films. At its start, Jim Orr, President of Domestic Theatrical Distribution at Universal Pictures, recalled the successful year which Universal has seen since the last CinemaCon, including hits such as Us.

Orr introduced the sole chairman of Universal Pictures, Donna Langley. After a sizzle reel featuring Universal talent discussing their love of movie theaters, Langley introduces Chris Meladandri. He starts by stating that The Grinch became the highest grossing Christmas-themed movie in history. Next is Secret Life Of Pets 2. “Celebrates the universal love we have for our pets and that unconditional love they have for us. It answers the question on ever pet-owners mind: what do our pets do when we’re not home?” Patton Oswald and Eric Stonestreet lend their voices to the main dog. Harrison Ford makes his animated film debut to play a tough, grumpy dog.

Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish take the stage, holding real versions of their animated animals. They have an hilarious exchange before introducing a trailer for the film.

The animals on stage continue when A Dog’s Journey sees Gail Mancuso and Dennis Quaid take the stage with Quaid’s real dog, Peaches. Quaid discusses how deep the heart and story of A Dog’s Journey runs, especially having been a part of Steven Spielberg’s Ambling productions. A special look is introduced.

It’s time for horror as Jason Blum comes to the stage. He starts by thanking exhibitors for their support on his recent hit films. Us broke box office records for original horror film, original R-rated film, and original film with an African American female lead.

The Hunt, written by Damon Lindelof and Nick Cuse, gets a quick tease of Blum rattling of its cast. It opens later this year. First, in May, Ma hits theaters starring Octavia Spencer, under the direction of Tate Taylor. Octavia called Taylor and said she was ready to do something different. Tate calls this movie “freaky, very freaky.”

“I got to do some very disturbing freaky things, mean, and terrible,” Spencer said.

“Everybody thinks Octavia is all kisses and cupcakes,” Taylor said. Those traits are all gone in Ma. A new look at the film plays.

Will Packer of Will Packer Productions takes the stage. Packer explains that he once snuck into CinemaCon, back when it was called Show West, and handed out his film as a means to have some distribution. His productions are responsible for the biggest domestic comedies of the past two years. Next is Little, opening later this year. The cast of Little take the stage to discuss their excite,met for the upcoming film. Mars Martin pitched the film when she was 10-years-old and now she is starring and executive producing it. She is the youngest executive producer in Hollywood’s history.

Yesterday is the next film in the spotlight. Director Danny Boyle takes the stage to direct. “It’s about this guy named Jack who’s running low on his luck and trying to be a musician,” Boyle said. “Then, about 10 or so pages in, something magical happens. The electricity around the world goes off for a few seconds and he gets hit by bus. When he wakes up, he’s the only person on the planet who remembers The Beatles.”

“We searched the whole of the world for someone to play the part of Jack,” Boyle said. They had to find someone who could play an “average bloke” and mega-star. He introduces Himesh Patel to the stage, who emerges with a guitar to play “Yesterday.”

Peter Levinson, Universal’s President & Chief Distribution Officer, takes the stage. He introduces Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg who are talking about Good Boys. “Ever since we made Superbad, our work, we think has very much matured over the years,” Rogen said. “The fact that you could say, Good Boys is our most refined, cultured work so far.” They introduce the cast of Good Boys. The kids aren’t allowed to watch the film they made without adult supervision.

A hilarious trailer for Good Boys plays, loaded with foul language and jokes.

Transition to Dreamworks. The next film for Dreamworks sprawls across China and will be a “distinctive visual feast” in the form of Abominable. It has four pillars: music, magic, humor, and heart. In the footage which is not completed, a an Asian teen girl enjoys music and has dreams of traveling. She meets a yeti on her roof. He escaped confinement and wants to get back to Everest — which becomes her mission.

Focus Features takes over the stage for their slate. Downton Abbey becomes the focus. “This year, as those millions of fans have long wished the epic of the Crawley family finally makes the leap to the big screen.” It brings back all of the cast and picks up where the series left off. The first trailer for the film plays. The King and Queen are coming to Downton.

Last Christmas is the next film. Paul Feig, Henry Golding, and Emma Thompson take the stage and share their passion for this project before introducing a trailer.

Next up is Queen+Slim. It’s a film meant to get people talking and leave the audience asking questions. It will address social issues which its black characters are facing that exist in the real world.

The director of Hobbs & Shaw, David Leitch, takes the stage. Leitch describes his great time working with Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham, but also adding Vanessa Kirby and Idris Elba. He brings Johnson and Statham to the stage. “We want to create something that was special,” Johnson said. “But the bottom line is we wanted to make something that is fun.” They are aiming to raise the bar. They created the biggest, baddest villain of the Fast & Furious franchise and the most fun movie all in one. “Paid homage to the value systems that have made Fast & Furious such a juggernaut and powerhouse and that’s family,“ Johnson said. “We really lean into in this movie.” There are two sides: the family in London and England where Statham showcases his culture and then they go the “the island” where Johnson gets to showcase his culture.

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The trailer shows off Idris Elba’s villain become all but super powered and being referred to as “Black Superman.” Action sequence are wild, Shaw and Hobbs are competing in beating people up and coming up with the more clever moves. After going to Somoan islands and introducing the Hobbs family (including Roman Reigns and Cliff Curtis), a cultural dance ensues to get everyone fired up for a chaotic fight on the island. The trailer ends with a sequence seeing Hobbs hold onto a chain attaching a helicopter to a line of cars.

Universal wraps up their presentation with a behind-the-scenes look at their Cats movie.