On Tuesday night, Warner Brothers had a tall order in trying to please a crowd which has spent some time frustrated with them. At CinemaCon, movie theater owners from around the country (and some possibly from around the world) gathered at the Coloseum at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas to get a look at the upcoming slate of WB films headed to their theaters. After the studio opted to release all of its 2021 titles simultaneously on HBO Max, there might be some touches of animosity from the theater owners who believe day-and-date releases are costing them money by keeping potential moviegoers streaming at home. Still, WB aimed to please, showcasing three of their biggest titles: The Matrix 4, Dune, and The Batman (which releases exclusively in theaters in 2022). The exciting showcase certainly should be drumming up excitement and might just be enough to plant some butts in the movie theater seats over the next 7 months.
Full disclosure; coming out to CinemaCon was a last minute decision. Many of the studios changed their plans and the event lost some of its appeal as a result. Once that Spider-Man: No Way Home trailer was going to be made available online, it became an easy decision to not commit a full five days to the Vegas event. Still, I couldn't resist jetting out for the Warner Brothers panel as the studio's slate boasts some of the most exciting titles over the next few years. There was nothing surprisingly nothing about other theatrical-only titles like the Aquaman and Shazam! sequels, Black Adam, Fantastic Beasts, or the Olivia Wilde's anticipated Don't Worry Darling. Still, the Warner Bros. slate is packed with titles and the thought of missing exclusive new footage while my press badge sat there unused was unthinkable. When I walked into the massive theater just in time to see the final 45 seconds of the first trailer for the next Matrix movie, it was immediately worth the devastatingly delayed flight out which cost me time to see some of the earlier parts of the presentation, including The Many Saints of Newark and Malignant.
Sp, that's where we'll start. The Matrix Resurrections debuted its first footage at CinemaCon on Tuesday night. The footage has not been made available online.
The Matrix Resurrections
Though I was 60 seconds too late to catch the meaty beginning of the trailer for The Matrix 4, the story came through (and I caught some extra details from colleagues walking out of the Colosseum). 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, the one we followed through the original Matrix trilogy two decades ago. Instead, when Trinity asks him, "Have we met?" he doesn't know. The woman he once loved is a stranger to him but not 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 the masterful use of filmmaking technological for unique action sequences in the original films with new-age technology. 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 fell right back into the role, stopping bullets with the simple raise of a hand, and every bit of nostalgic appreciation for the original trilogy comes rushing back for the audience.
Might they be trapped in the Matrix again? It's unclear but the hype for Neo to make a decision like he once did, opting between a red pill or a blue pill, is back with a new man in black (who is not Morpheus) and this could be the start of an epic new trilogy.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.
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 star, Robert Pattinson explains. We see him in the cowl, removing it, and the tones of the film are heavily black and grey, remaining dark and appearing hopeless.
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 it Batman in his early days, filled with rage and learning his way. Meanwhile, footage shows Batman ruthlessly beating up goons in what could have been 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, possibly with a drink in one hand for the brief shot. Other highlights include the Batmobile driving with flames coming from its exhaust, 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
Dune may have been the biggest surprise of the short showcase. 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 a long clip for the film was shown, this seems to be ringing true.
A behind-the-scenes featurette shows the many vast, practical sets. "I was instantly invested in the characters," Zendaya said early in the clip. "This movie is really kind of this heroic journey," Chalomet added. Isaac points out how many stories have been inspired by the original Dune book, referencing the likes of Star Wars and Game of Thrones. Footage shows 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 Dastmalchian saying the sets made his jaw drop, with similar compliments coming from Bautista and Bardem, as well.
"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.
The clip was pretty stunning. It sees Paul Atreides (Chalamet), Duke Leto Atreides (Isaac), Gurney Halleck (Brolin), and Liet Kynes (Sharon Duncan-Brewster) on a rescue mission. The discover a plume of smoke in a vast, golden sand dune location. It is a broken down Harvester ship - a massive, rectangular vehicle which has left a trail from its path to this spot and can't move anymore. The problem is a massive worm is on its way to devour this vehicle which is no small feat, considering it could be the size of a small city block. Duke Leto is ready to spring into action to rescue the more than 30 men on board but Liet Kynes warns him that upset the worm will send it into a killing frenzy... and they only have enough space to rescue all but three of the men on board. He's determined, so Duke Leto's dragonfly-like craft stops hovering and moves closer, eventually landing. In trying to get to the men aboard the Harvester, Paul is consumed by sand in the wind, golden sparkles surrounding him and all, eventually being hypnotized by whispers and collapsing to his knees. Before long, he must rush back to his father's craft and jet out, as the worm has arrived.
Far above the scen, a camera captures the massive worm merging from the sand below the Harvester. Slowing, everything stsrts to sink into its mouth, revealing its hundreds of teeth emerging like needles and consuming everything in its way. It's a stunning shot which seems to summarize the ambitious scope of this film which Villeneuve aimed to keep as practical as possible. This all cuts to a sizzle reel showing off many more action beats, some of which involve hand-to-hand combat with futuristic suits of armor and others see flying crafts crashing into one another and chaos ensuing. All things considered, the quality of the story is ambitious to say the least but Villenueve is making sure everyone is blown away by the visuals, at a minimum.
All in all, a longer presentation For more from CinemaCon or take ask questions about the Warner Bros. presentation, feel free to hit me up on Twitter!prevnext
That's A Wrap0comments
As a whole, Warner Brothers showed off some exciting content. The big three (Matrix, Batman, and Dune) titles especially delivered in spades. Some members of the press were none-too-thrilled with getting a replay of The Batman trailer but the behind-the-scenes look was quite a satisfying fix. Meanwhile, The Matrix seems to have potential to launch a franchise, once again. The beautifully shot epic seems to be delivering in spades for fans who have been longing to return to that world with those characters. Then, Dune wrapped it all up, showcasing exactly why Villeneuve keeps saying he hopes people will experience it on a big screen.
To wrap things up, an executive promised 5 more DC Comics movies are on the way, an Elvis film is coming, a Toto movie is in the works, and Barbie is still coming. All in all, a longer presentation might have had more information and fun content about the future but the three titles showcased offered stunning and exciting looks at what is headed to theaters (and, in two of their cases, HBO Max). For more from CinemaCon or take ask questions about the Warner Bros. presentation, feel free to hit me up on Twitter!prev