Throughout the week of August 23, movie theater owners, studio executives from most of the major movie studios, and members of the press assembled in Las Vegas for CinemaCon. The event was hosted in Caesar's Palace, an annual preview of upcoming movie slates as far as the Caesar's Colosseum is concerned. The tenth CinemaCon followed up at 2020, however, which saw the event being cancelled due to the global pandemic. Now, the movie industry feels insistent on gathering for the event, partially as a show of good faith from themselves and the studios providing big movies that gathering for a theatrical experience is still a key component of distributing films.
Monday through Thursday, presentations starting with Sony Pictures and concluding with Lionsgate showed off titles headed to theaters in the near future. Disney, Warner Brothers, Universal, Paramount and more brought footage to the event, often accompanied with messages from cast members and directors. While CinemaCon typically offers in-person introductions from the biggest stars of Hollywood, the studios sent only executives this year, except in the case of Warner Brothers. Warner Brothers opted to have an entirely digital presentation, having their executives, cast, and filmmakers be a part of the presentation in a long video presentation.
Though the event was not as thrilling as in previous years with no musical numbers or red carpet interviews making headlines, the footage showed an exciting future for the movie industry. Blockbuster franchises and new, original ideas are headed to the big screen in droves. Below, we round up some of the highlights from the presentations at CinemaCon in 2021!
The Matrix Resurrections
Perhaps the most anticipated reveal which was delivered was the title and first look at the fourth Matrix movie. On Tuesday night, Warner Brothers unveiled The Matrix Resurrections to the Colosseum crowd with an abundant amount of stylized action in its first footage.
The story of the film was finally revealed, at least in part. Keanu Reeves is back, rocking his long hair and a short beard, as a new take on Neo. This Neo does not remember his life before, though pieces of Zion are certainly making their way back to him. Still, to start the movie, the life we followed through the original Matrix trilogy two decades ago is not actively something he is aware of. Instead, when Carrie Anne Moss' Trinity asks him, "Have we met?" he doesn't know. The woman he once loved is a stranger to him but certainly won't be for long.
The innovative nature of the original Matrix movies seems to be back. At a minimum, Lana Wachowski has crafted an incredible balance of masterful use of filmmaking technology for unique action sequences as seen in the original films with new-age opportunities. Beautifully shot beats saw Neo and Carrie Anne Moss' Trinity springing into action, whether it was bailing from a motorcycle, waving an incoming rocket away from themselves, or leaping from the top of a building in a gorgeous, golden slow-motion shot. Reeves slipped right back into the role, stopping bullets with the simple raise of a hand, bringing Neo's attitude to the screen, and every bit of nostalgic appreciation for the original trilogy comes rushing back for the audience.prevnext
A frontrunner to be the most hotly anticipated film of 2022, The Batman brought an extended behind-the-scenes look to CinemaCon which played only for the crowd in attendance. In the footage, director Matt Reeves opened up about his intimate approach to the DC Comics icon as dark, grungy, and beautiful footage took the screen. He promises the "most personal" Batman story that will ever have been delivered as a movie.
The featurette opened with Bruce Wayne walking to the tune of ominous piano music from Michael Giacchino. "For some reason, Batman has always stood to as one of the major characters of the 20th century," the film's sta Robert Pattinson explained. We see him in the cowl, removing it, and the tones of the film are heavily black and grey, remaining dark and appearing hopeless to set the tone for Gotham.
Reeves promises this is "radically different" from other Batman movies. How? We haven't seen anything "grounding it the way Year One does," Reeves explains. The director bills this not as an origin story but as Batman in his early days, filled with rage and learning his way. Meanwhile, footage shows Batman ruthlessly beating up goons in what seemed to be a dark prison set, lit only by the alarming color of a red light. Explosions, police officers, and dark chaos fill out the footage.
"He's really working out this rage," Pattinson said. "All the fights seem very personal." He uses various weapons, pipes included, to beat down enemies. We quickly get our first look at Andy Serkis as Alfred, a classy looking gentleman wearing a vest over his button down shirt, standing charismatically with a drink in one hand for the brief shot. Other highlights include the Batmobile driving with flames coming from its exhaust and seeing it rip through a city street in exciting fashion.
"We can't wait for you to see The Batman in theaters, next year," Reeves concludes. This leads to a very slightly updated version of the original trailer from 2020's DC FanDome event (available here) taking the screen, with a bit more action involving Catwoman, a red "2022," slate at the end, and a voice over from Riddler: "You're a part of this, too." Bruce responds over the dark screen with a question: "How am I a part of this?" "You'll see." It was awesome.prevnext
Sony Pictures went big to kick things off. As the Spider-Man: No Way Home trailer was destined to be released online, ComicBook.com opted to stay home on Monday night and record a bonus episode of the Phase Zero podcast to discuss the first look. However, Sony still had plenty more exciting footage to reveal.
After hearing about it from colleagues, it seems the winner of the Sony Pictures presentation in terms of footage which was not released online was Morbius. This Marvel movie starring Jared Leto is being counted out by many as it is not a Marvel Studios film with known connections to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, members of the press spent time at CinemaCon receptions raving about the footage. Words like "action-packed," and "awesome," were being thrown around to describe it, with another reporter noting how "shredded," Leto is looking for the role. This footage was not made available publicly but it seems to have left an overwhelmingly positive impression on critics who saw it.
Sony Pictures also showed Ghostbusters: Afterlife in its entirety, which was greeted with positive reactions on social media.prevnext
Jurassic World: Dominion
To conclude its presentation, Universal Studios offered an extended featurette centered on Jurassic World: Dominion. It was one of the most exciting segments of the entire week of CinemaCon and was met with an exciting applause.
Starting with footage from the set of the original Jurassic Park movie, Jurassic Park director Stephen Spielberg explains a mosquito to a young cast member. The cast remembers the "energy on set," as Laura Dern put it, being one which informed them early on that they were making something special. Jeff Goldblum remembers it. Chris Pratt remembers watching it. "I cried the first time I saw dinosaurs," Bryce Dallas Howard says.
"Jurassic World: Dominion is a celebration of the franchise," Jurassic World: Dominion director Colin Trevorrow said. "It concludes a story that Stephen Spielberg started in 1993."
"It is everything we could've ever hoped for and more," Dern added. The footage shows the original cast, referred to as "legacy characters," interacting with the "World characters," in many instances.
The movie will ask the question, "If dinosaurs lived amongst us, would you be safe?" Trevorrow explained. "And the answer is 'No.'" In thrilling first look footage, mosasaur emerges from the ocean to eat an entire helicopter, cutting just before it slams its jaw on the aircraft. A raptor runs across a building's rooftop, jumping from one building to the next. There is a T-Rex is in a city! Stunts, people falling, vehicles flipping, and more chaos fill the screen like a thrilling sizzle reel. Sam Neill and the entire cast seem to come face to face with a T-Rex in the woods.
Perhaps the most exciting bit of it all: there is a lot of footage of Neill, Goldblum, Dern, Pratt, Howard, and more all together. The crossover between the original cast and new cast is going to be delivered in spades. The dinosaurs are brilliantly brought to life, seemingly combining modern visual effects with practical opportunities to have a created T-Rex on the set and in camera. It was colorful, thrilling preview of the 2022 film.prevnext
The Unbearable Weight Of Tremendous Talent
On Thursday afternoon, Lionsgate rounded out CinemaCon with a preview of its upcoming films. This included Nolan Emmerich's Moonfall, Daniel Stamm's The Devil's Light, and the Zachery Levi-starring American Underdog football biopic of Kurt Warner. The one that is really leaving people talking though, is The Unbearable Weight of Tremendous Talent.
The new film stars Nicolas Cage... as Nicolas Cage. In the first trailer for the film (which has yet to be released online), Cage sees his Hollywood career enter a drought. Acting opportunities are drying up and he's at the point of basically telling the trade magazines, "Well, it was a good run." (Paraphrasing.) This is until he gets a call suggesting he take a paid appearance a the birthday party of a super fan. Begrudgingly he obliges, worried it might be a weird exchange with someone hoping for sexual favors or otherwise. It turns out, the super fan is a character portrayed by The Mandalorian star Pedro Pascal and he loves Cage's work so much that he has his guns from Face/Off.
The trailer drums up some good laughs as a result. It's all fun for Cage until Tiffany Haddish's character comes into play. She's a CIA agent and she has a task for Cage's Cage: bring in Pascal's character who is actually a wanted drug lord.
It is every bit ridiculous as it sounds and this movie has huge potential to be amazing.prevnext
Last Night in Soho
On Wednesday afternoon, Universal Pictures and Focus Features offered a look at Last Night in Soho during their shared presentation. It's looks to be a thrilling, mind-numbing adventure from the legend Edgar Wright. It will be interesting to see if he can pull off landing this one as the new trailer offered an insightful look at the film's mysterious, ambitious premise.
In this one, a young girl takes a holiday to London. She is quick to proclaim this is her favorite place in the world with the onl thing that could possibly make it better being living there in the 1960s. She has a deep fascination with everything she has heard about this location from six decades prior. In a be careful what you wish for scenario, she starts dreaming of being in London to the point that it is unclear whether or not she is awake or asleep. However, she starts to see the same scenario playing out through this dreams, leading to witnessing the murder of a lavish character portrayed by Anya Taylor-Joy, slain by a man portrayed by Matt Smith.
In the present, this young girl played by Thomasin McKenzie realizes that she has witnessed a real murder. She now must track down the man responsible, who seems nothing short of a vile being in his old age. Wright has crafted what looks to be an intriguing, thrilling original story here.prevnext
Ambulance was one of the big surprises at CinemaCon. It looks intensely entertaining, especially for audiences who just enjoy a straight-up action flick. Michael Bay seems to be back to his Bad Boys efforts in terms of tone and scope with Ambulance, though this one might not be aiming for nearly the same level of humor. The film sees Yahya Abdul-Mateen II playing a military veteran who is not getting any help when his wife needs surgery and providing for her and his child is getting more and more difficult. Out of desperation, he turns to Jake Gyllenhaal's eccentric, rich character only to find himself involved in a high stakes bank robbery which will pay him millions of dollars more than he sought. A description of the footage shown is below!
The trailer opens with Yahya Abdul-Mateen II trying to get ahold of help on the phone. He is a war veteran and is not getting any aid, as his wife and kid are his responsibility. He goes to a garage loaded with extravagant exotic cars, owned by Gyllenhaal's character. Gyllenhaal's character is brash, yelling a joke, "You're not supposed to be in here! Rich people don't like when you come in here unexpectedly, it makes them feel guilty!" Yahya explains that he needs some help but Jake offers more than he asked for. He wants to rob a bank for a score worth millions of dollars. A squad rolls out to rob the bank, Yahya was reluctant, but joins. The heist is going off when a police officer approaches the bank door. Jake cracks the door and talkls to him in a friendly, slick manner and tries to send him away. Ultimately, he has to let him in and shortly thereafter to add him to the hostages.
Gyllenhaal, wearing a suit throughout the footage, is slick and suave at times but also eradic and energized in the role. The job goes sideways when another cop outside sees what is happening. Gunfire ensues. Robbers get dropped. An escape follows. The first cop tangles with Jake's character. Yahya has to shoot the officer. Jake sees the instant mistake here. Yahya wants to help the cop, Jake wants to run. The second cop finds him and rushes to Eiza Gonzalez, who plays a medic that tries to rescue the wounded officer.
A manhunt ensues with lots of gunfire. It is action-packed and shot with ambitious style, as a Michael Bay film is. Together, Yahya and Jake's characters try to escape in the ambulance. Jake insists he just wants to get everyone home. They have to decide on whether to allow Eiza's medic to help the cop to save them from the charges of killing an LAPD cop or not, a seemingly moot point after all of the other gunfire and actions of these characters but one driving their efforts, nonetheless. They hijack the ambulance and have the medic and wounded officer as hostages. Jake's character ends up helping the cause, aiding the medic in her attempts to heal the officer in the back of the ambulance. "That hostage and that cop are keeping us alive," Jake's character declares. He won't let her leave, despite Eiza's character trying to run. They are chased by helicopters and other police vehicles. There is seemingly no way out of this. Jake's character is eventually is seen breaking, opening fire chaotically and the chase leads to Jake and Yahya fighting each other, physically, as the escape possibilities seem non-existent. 'Ambulance' takes the screen, as theirs crashes through a barrier of police cars.prevnext
Top Gun: Maverick
Top Gun: Maverick showed off the first 13 minutes to the crowd at CinemaCon. It started with the brilliant tune of Top Gun's theme song over the credits and earned an applause when its title took the screen, designed to match the ayout of the original Top Gun movie. A spoiler-filled description of the first 13 minutes is below.
A golden sea set saw pilots launching their aircrafts from a carrier, as "Danger Zone," took over. Maverick, in the present day, is caring for a plane. He has photos of himself and others from the time of the original film, along with a shot of Miles Teller's new character. He puts on his classic jacket, grabs his Kawasaki bike, and rides out into the desert. Top Gun's music brings back every bit of nostalgic appreciation for the original film.
In a hangar, Maverick is informed that his program is being shutdown. The conversation is set beside a black stealth plane. The higher ups want Mach 10. Maverick believes he can "give them Mach 10" before the team arrives to shut them down. He quickly trains his body, suits up, and gets ready to fly in a black suit that borders that of an astronaut. He loads into the lane after being reminded he does not need to push it beyond Mach 10. "Not 10.1, Mach 10." The plane starts up. The speakers and bass roar through Caesar's Palace's Colloseum with its jets. Maverick preps for take off as Admiral Chester Cain arrives. Ed Harris wants to kill the program, Maverick wants "one last ride," and he feels the responsibility to others to achieve the task. Harris' Admiral enters the control room after Maverick takes off right over his head, leaving angel wings of dust surrounding him. Maverick pretends that his comms are cutting out and soars above the clouds. He is at 7.3 Pushing 8. Beautiful shots from above show the plane rip across the screen to the backdrop of clouds and earth. Mach 9. "He's the fastest man alive," he friend declares. Maverick sees the sun rise and utters, "Talk to me goose." He is at Mach 9.3. The lane is heating up. 9.4. 9.5. 9.6. 9.7. The windshield is getting too hot. The surface temperature of the craft is rising. 9.8. "Just a little more," Maverick begs. 9.9. "Come on! Come on!" Still at 9.9 until... Mach 10!
The control room cheers. Maverick wants more though. "Just a little push," he says. Throttle forward. 10.1. 10.2. The plane is beeping. Master Caution lights up. 10.4 and the jets cut out. Damage to the craft. The control room loses contact with him. From the ground, the exploding ship looks like a meteor bursting colorful into the atmosphere at sunrise. Maverick stumbles into a diner in his jump suit. He is covered in ash and dust and accepts water from a waitress and asks, "Where am I?"
"Earth," a little boy tells him, getting a huge laugh from the crowd which was followed by an applause when the footage ended.prevnext
The Black Phone
One of Universal's upcoming horror movies offered an exciting first look. Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson is going back to his Sinister roots for an original new story with The Black Phone, a film which Ethan Hawke stars in and was quick to describe the terror of, saying the script in itself had him terrified. A full trailer for The Black Phone played at CinemaCon and has not yet been made available online. A full description is below!
Kids debate whether or not a legend of a missing kid is true. Ethan Hawke emerges from a van, dropping groceries and his top hat, laughing in front of a kid named Finney (Mason Thames). He's a "part time magician." His face has white paint on it. He asks, "Would you like to see a magic trick?" Bad idea, kid...
Cut to the kid's school and the students are informed that Finney Blake has been abducted. In a basement, the boy tries to use a black phone but is greeted by Hawke's character in a white devil mask. He is unbothered and not worried about Finney attempting to defend himself. He gets a call later and another boy declares, "Don't hang up," as this new boy's bloodied ghost spirit stands beside Finney. The kids who were previously victims of Hawke's creepy abductor are trying to help Finney escape.
Finney's friend, outside, tries to find him. In this dark, brown, rotten basement, bottles are launched from nothing across the room, shattering on the wall around Finney. The spirits over the phone encourage the boy to use the phone as a weapon and seem to be training him, physically, on how to escape. He has to stand up for himself and he eventually tries to leave, right out the front door, but there is a lock. As he Finney puts in the code, Hawke's character wakes up sitting in a chair behind Finneey, with his opening eye showing through the mask.prevnext
Jamie Lee Curtis took the screen during the Universal presentation, recounting some of her favorite movie memories. "I was only 19 years old," she said of her 1978 Halloween debut. "I cherish the time I spend watching movies in the theater. Making movies is challenging but watching movies is a delight and an escape that we all need. Nothing can stop the theatrical experience We need to gather together and laugh and cheer and cry and scream and, in my case, hide from the Boogeyman." She was delivering the message from a theater in Ketchum, Idaho which is a favorite locations of hers. It was part of a unique presentation by Universal, which called for supporting those locations which actors have enjoyed attending to see films. "I was there for Halloween and Knives Out and I hope to see you all next year for the end of our saga with Halloween Ends."
Footage from Halloween Kills played for the CinemaCon crowd. A full description of it can be found below!
Kids are on a set of swings, playing at night. A woman asks them if they're alone but they tell her a man in a creepy white mask has been trying to play hide and seek. She sees Michael Myers standing by a car, urging the kids to run immediately. The people in the car are spooked and a woman runs out of bullets trying to stop him, shooting out the windows. Michael calmly shows them they're doomed, just by being there and, sure enough, it seems like the three people in the car are killed.
The house fire from the previous film is on the screen. Judy Greer finds out Myers survived and we see him cutting someone down with a massive handsaw. Many of the survivors of Michael Myers are coming together, with the screen being spllit for them between then and now. They find bodies. They find a map. The bodycount shows a map to Michael's childhood home. There is a fight in Greer's home who tells Michael to take her. Laurie has a knife, and declares, "I want to take his mask off and see the life leave his eyes," in a hospital gown. In another shot, she wrestles with his mask to end the trailer.prevnext
Dune offered a surprisingly deep look at the film, bringing a behind-the-scenes featurette and an extended clip. It's a title that seems to be relying on either nostalgic attachment to its original property (a book originally adapted to a movie more than three decades ago) or its star power, which includes director Denis Villenueve. While the cast boasts Jason Momoa, Josh Brolin, Zendaya, Oscar Isaac, Timothee Chalamet, David Dastmalchian, Dave Bautista, Rebecca Ferguson, Javier Bardem, and more, it is Villenueve who is not-so-secretly the true star here. Although Dune will be available on HBO Max the day of its release later this year, the marketing (and Villenueve himself) is touting it as a movie best experienced in theaters. After seeing a small portion of the film on a big screen, this seems to be true.
The behind-the-scenes featurette showed the many vast, practical sets. Footage showed off incredible practically built vehicles, the immersive costumes, and how scenes went from concept art to real sets. Silhouettes are seen in action sequences, lit by various colors and often surrounded by real flames, leading to David Dastmalchian saying the sets made his jaw drop, with similar compliments coming from Dave Bautista and Javier Bardem, as well.
"I was instantly invested in the characters," Zendaya said early in the clip.
"This movie is really kind of this heroic journey," Chalomet added. Oscar Isaac points out how many stories have been inspired by the original Dune book, referencing the likes of Star Wars and Game of Thrones.
"It is about planet Earth and the clash of cultures," Isaac declared of the film's story. The cast and director boast about what experience it will be on the big screen. An action-packed, fiery sizzle reel rounds out the featurette. "Trust me, you're gonna have a good time," Jason Momoa concluded. This all leads to an extended clip from the film. A thorough description of the clip shown at CinemaCon can be found in our Warner Bros. panel recap which was written live during the event.prevnext
Mission: Impossible 7
Tom Cruise sent a video from the set of Mission: Impossible 7 as they were currently in production and unable to attend CinemaCon as Cruise has in past years. In the video, he is in a car with Hayley Atwell and director Chris McQuarrie rolls up next to him. They drive down a street while talking to the camera, with McQuarrie ultimately pulling a stunt himself to turn the car around before footage of an absolutely mad stunt being pulled off is shown.
"This is far and away the most dangerous thing we've ever attempted," Cruise said. "It'll be a motorcycle jump off a cliff, into a base jump. I've been wanting to do it since I was a little kid. It all comes down to one thing: the audience." Clips of Cruise flying through air, skydiving and base jumping, roll by. "Don't be careful, be confident," Cruise declares, followed by crew members complimenting Cruise's spacial awareness.
To prepare for this new stunt, many crew members and Cruise had to learn to perfectly execute certain skills. The crew masters get drones to follow Cruise and attach cameras to him. Cruise's training is newr endless, jumping out of the sky 30 times a day. More than 500 sky diving jumps and 13000 motorcross jumps went into the prep for him.
Cut to... a massive ramp constructed at the edge of more massive cliff in Norway. It has a roll in to gain speed, a long straight away, and a jump. It is comparable to a Mega Ramp from the X-Games, but with nothing to land on except the fog after the mountain and eventually... Earth. Cruise inspects the area from a helicopter, ultimately rehearsing his base jumping portion of the stunt by leaping from the chopper. He opens his own shoot and lands, on repeat. The clouds, the weather, the light, everything has to be just right.0comments
On the day of production, the crew and Cruise are ready. The stakes are thoroughly laid out... he could die. Cruise lines up the jump and takes off on a motorcycle down the runway. Cameras follow overhead and from every angle. The crew watches from their tents. Cruise ascends, ditches the bike, and goes stiff in the air with his arms at his side using his body to glide. As though the moment were lasting an eternity, everyone watches as gravity pulls him back down and prompts Cruise to open his chute. Everyone claps in the video - and in the Caesar's Colosseum where the footage is playing.
After landing, Cruise declares that he can "hold the bike longer," in the air... so, he does it five more times. It's one of the most remarkable things an actor has ever done on camera... well, since the last time Tom Cruise showed a reel at CinemaCon.prev