Every year we look forward to planning the trip to Las Vegas for CinemaCon and every year we come home thrilled. Along with Jenise (aka Film Brat) there is so much so see and experience during the week long convention but it is a happy overload.
From the latest theater technology in sound and picture to the newest level of comfort for audiences in the theaters, we see it all. We must admit that one of our favorite activities is visiting with the concession vendors who are excited to show us the next step in treats, video fun and event the hilarious photo booths (and yes we participated in that with pictures to prove it, be patient!)
Of course CinemaCon also brings out the movie studios teasing us with what is to come in theaters soon and beyond. Trailers, clips and films are shown along with the stars who bring them to the big screen.
The fantastic week we experienced was put together brilliantly by CinemaCon and the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO). Who is NATO? They are the “largest exhibition trade organization in the world, representing more than 32,000 movie screens in all 50 states, and additional cinemas in 82 countries worldwide,” that, my friends, is who they are! Bring together ‘broad, diverse, educational fun’ through programming, CinemaCon is not just a conference, it is an experience!
So on we go to an amazing week!
MONDAY — Day One
Paramount Pictures opened the conference and “Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows” brings Will Arnett and Megan Fox onstage to banter with the audience. The voice of God who sounds an awful lot like Morgan Freeman gave us an introduction and a look at the new “Ben-Hur” with Jack Huston, which opens Aug. 19.
Tom Cruz makes a video appearance to talk about “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back” and wants fans to know how excited he is to also be working on the next “Mission Impossible.”
“The Ring” is coming back to freak us all out. We don’t know if we can handle that chick in the well again, can you?
If period pieces are your thing (which they are for us) then Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant gives us a little fun, mischief and ear-testing with “Florence Foster Jennings” also staring Rebecca Ferguson. Also, Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard bring a French-Canadian couple on a dangerous mission during the war in 1942 with “Allied.” In the 1950s, Denzel Washington plays a father dealing with race in the United States along with his life in “Fences” also starring Viola Davis.
The very handsome Jeremy Renner and the extremely lovely Amy Adams took the stage to bring us “Story of Your Life.” Adams is an expert linguist who helps decide if an alien craft has come in peace or to destroy!
Vin Diesel is back! Oh yes, he’s back to talk about the next installment of “XXX” coming next year along with co-star Donnie Yen. It has to be said that Yen is having one heck of a ride with the release of “IP Man 3,” his role in “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” and now “XXX.”
Finally, Simon Pegg, who we think is one of the funniest and smartest actors ever, introduces J.J. Abrams who received the Showman of the Year Award, and well deserved.
This is a fantastic start to what is sure to be another fantastic showing at CinemaCon! See you tomorrow!
TUESDAY — Day Two
The next presentation is from the new kid on the block, STX Entertainment starting off with their 2015 retrospective of films that carried the studio logo. Bob Simonds and Sophie Watts bring vision for the STX studio to CinemaCon along with Adam Fogelson who gave a rousing speech that still has us talking.
STX is responsible for such films as “The Gift,” which was made for $5 million and grossed $44 million. We love “The Gift!” The studio has also brought us “The Boy,” “Secret in Their Eyes” and “Hardcore Henry,” which has smashed at the box office.
Sylvester Stallone came to CinemaCon to tease us about the new films and claims that “the best is yet to come.”
Matthew McConaughey look stunning in his suit but we had to focus on the film “Free State of Jones” coming soon to theaters. McConaughey plays Newton Knight, a farmer from Mississippi who leads his neighbors against the Confederate Army. It doesn’t hurt a bit that the actor looks eerily like Knight.
“The Space Between Us” is going to have every one’s heart tugged — a lot! This is the story of a boy born on Mars who returns to Earth but fragile. Starring the ever talented Asa Butterfield, he is joined by Gary Oldman, Carla Gugino and Britt Robertson.
Don’t think STX doesn’t have their own scary film that is going to ruin us, especially when the tag line of the film is ‘don’t think about it’ because now we expecting to see “The Bye Bye Man.”
Finally, Hailee Steinfeld plays a girl who is trying to survive the teen years in what is likely to become a coming-of-age classic with “The Edge of Seventeen” The film also stars Woody Harrelson, Kira Sedgewick and Blake Jenner.
This day also brought the opening of the 2016 CinemaCon Trade Show for a chance to meet and greet with those wonderful people and companies that bring food, fun and flavor to our theatre experience.
We tasted, tested, played, listened and had our bags filled with some of the cleverest things ever! That’s only a part of the Trade Show because it is speaking with the fantastic vendors about their products and having the best conversations because their goal is to continue making our theatre experience the best it can possibly see. We want to salute everyone on the Trade Show floor for making our walk through memorable and we can’t wait to see you all again next year!
Warner Brothers Pictures brought in Mario Lopez to present the WB’s slate at CinemaCon beginning with Ben Affleck and Amy Adams to talk about DC Comics films. “Suicide Squad” from director David Ayer, who tells us to “prepare for an event!” brings a talent group of actors together on stage as Will Smith hoops and hollers about the film. We got only a partial effect of Jared Leto as The Joker but it only made us want more. Of course I had to peel Jenise back off her chair — yes, she loves Jared Leto!
Russell Crowe cracks up the audience with his refusal to stick to a script and wonderful turn of a phrase introducing “The Nice Guys” with Ryan Gosling. This is going to be good!
The Mother-of-Dragons is changing up gears as Emilia Clarke shows her quirky side along with Sam Claflin in the romantic-comedy “Me Before You.”
Preparing for a dose of creepy as Vera Farmgia, Patrick Wilson and director James Wan take the stage and ask us to come back to “The Conjuring 2.” This time it’s the Warren’s who are under attack from evil forces and we are pretty darn excited to be conjured once again.
Director Todd Phillips and the ever gorgeous Bradley Cooper bring us a peek at “War Dogs” with Jonah Hill and Miles Teller. It is the true story of David Packouz and Efraim Diveroli who won an uber millions in a contract from the Pentagon to bring armament to Afghanistan.
Sony Pictures Entertainment starts out their presentation with the name of director Ang Lee and the first look at “Billy Lyns Long Half-Time Walk.” The ensemble cast includes Garrett Hedlund, Kristen Stewart, Vin Diesel, Steve Martin, Chris Tucker and Ben Platt. It is the story of a young man relives his time in Iraq.
The stage becomes brighter and it wasn’t due to the lighting as Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt shine. Their new film “Passengers” is about space travel to a distant planet as two passengers wake up sixty years too soon. They are going to space with no change of return!
Three more films coming from Sony is “Trainspotting 2” with Danny Boyle beginning the shoot in May. Also “Baby Driver” with Lily James, Jon Bernthal, Ansel Elgort and Kevin Spacey. Coming to theaters in a few weeks is the George Clooney, Jack O’Connel and Julia Roberts film directed by Jodie Foster with “Money Monsters.”
From Sony Pictures Animation is an amazing array of storytelling with “Smurfs: The Lost Village,” “The Emoji Movie,” “Hotel Transylvania 3” and the all new animated “Spiderman.”
Screen Gems also has their hand in bringing iconic and thrilling characters back to the screen. Just so you know to be prepared, Alice is back! “Resident Evil: The Final Chapter” will wrap up all your questions (we are sure there will still be questions but okay.) Also, the world’s favorite Lycans with “Underworld: Blood Wars.”
More scary as the film “Keep Watching” asks — will you look away? Just when you thought it was safe to have a baby with a surrogate “When the Bough Breaks” makes us all rethink it. Finally, director Fede Alvarez tell us “Don’t Breathe.”
Columbia Pictures gets us all worked up as Matthew McConaughey, Jackie Earle Haley and Idris Elba take us to “The Dark Tower.” Ryan Reynolds, Jake Gyllenhaal and Rebecca Ferguson discover “Life” on Mars.
Coming this summer is the highly anticipated director Paul Feig’s “Ghostbusters” and coming across the stage is Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones to talk about their time together making the film.
Other films readying to hit theaters is “The Shallows” and you can forget to enjoy the ocean this summer thanks so much. “Inferno” with Tom Hanks in the next “Di Vinci Code” installment. For family fun prepare for colorful and hilarious “The Angry Birds Movie.”
For a little bit of adult fun is the internet trailer watching hit “Sausage Party” voiced by Jonah Hill, James Franco, Paul Rudd, Kristen Wiig, Seth Rogen, Michael Cera, Bill Hader and the list goes on!
Jenise gets to see Chris Pratt again as he steps back onstage with director Antoine Fuqua to give us a look at “The Magnificent Seven.” The film also stars Vincent D’Onofrio, Denzel Washington, Matt Bomer, Ethan Hawke, Came Gigandet and Peter Sarsgaard in the cast of gun slingers who need to protect their town from a violent showdown.
We hate it when it comes to and end because we still have energy for more. It will have to remain in saved mode until tomorrow. See you then!
WEDNESDAY — Day Three
Walt Disney Studios got us all a tizzy as the announcement that writer Rian Johnson is working on “Star Wars Episode VIII.” Even more so, Gareth Edwards continues to work on “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.”
But we all know Disney is known for its amazing animation, live-action and storytelling and it is clear as Dwayne Johnson voices Mawi in the film “Moana,” the live-action “Jungle Book” in theaters this week, “Alice in Wonderlands’ Alice Through the Looking Glass,” “Pete’s Dragon,” “Beauty and the Beast,” Steven Spielberg’s “The BFG.”
The “Queen of Katwe” directed by Mira Nair, stars Lupita Nyongo and David Oyelowo and we are told “if you don’t shed a tear you’re a cyborg.”
Now, oh yes we were giggling in our seats as “Finding Dory” is just cuter than you could ever imagine. Director Andrew Stanton and Lyndsey Collins shared their experience bringing the film to the screen. Stanton said he had to make “Finding Dory” because he was worried about the little blue fish. Yes, that brought instant awwww’ing and smiles.
Finally, Marvel Studios, who has made 12 films in 8 years, lets us know they have no plans to slow down. From “Captain America: Civil War” to “Dr. Strange” who plans to change your reality.
Universal Pictures is starting out with a bang as “Warcraft” gives us reason to lose our minds a little bit. Starring the one and only Ragnar himself Travis Fimmel, director-writer Duncan Jones gives us a sneak peek and leaves us wanting for more.
“The Girl on the Train” is from the New York Times Best Seller from director Tate Taylor and stars the exceedingly beautiful Emily Blunt in a not-so-glamorous role but awesome all the same.
That not enough action for you? Well, producer Frank Marshall tells us that the next film mixes the old with the new in the return of “Jason Bourne.” Kevin Hart makes a Las Vegas showgirl entrance to talk about his new comedy tour film “What Now?”
Illumination Films is preparing our funny bones as the short “Mower Minions” gives us a laugh. It will be shown in all theaters before the animated feature “The Secret Life of Pets” with a vocal cast that includes Louis C.K., Albert Brooks, Lake Bell, Ellie Kemper, Jenny Slate, Kevin Hart, Tara Strong and Steve Coogan. Ever wonder what your pets do when you’re not home? Here is Illumination’s answer to that!
Also coming to theaters is “Despicable Me 3” as Gru learns he has a twin brother Drew! The new villain Bathazar Brat is a 80’s child star who isn’t happy that his show was cancelled so what’s a Brat to do? Well, try to talk over the world of course!
Finally, after 17 years, Dr. Seuss’ “The Grinch” returns with the voice of Benedict Cumberbatch. In December is the animated “Sing” that features more songs than any film should allow.
That wraps up the day three as we prepare for the final day at CinemaCon and it’s time for nighty night! See you all tomorrow!
THURSDAY — Day Four
Amazon Studios brought their first offerings with “Manchester by the Sea” starring Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams. Also in the works is Jesse Eisenberg and Blake Lively the Woody Allen film Café Society.
“The Neon Demon” ports director Nicolas Winding Refn to CinemaCon to talk about his film starring the absolutely adorable Elle Fanning. Dealing with a beauty-obsessed Los Angeles, the film also stars Keanu Reeves, Jena Malone and Christina Hendricks.
20th Century Fox hits the ground running as James Cameron sets off crazy applause announcing that there will be four more “Avatar” films. Of course with that announcement comes the adamant belief that they should all be seen on the BIG SCREEN!
Blue Sky Studios as Vanilla Ice brings his own brand of ice to prepare us for “Ice Age: Collision Course” coming this summer. You know darn well that the gang is going to bring fun, laughs and adventure for the entire family.
Can we just tell you dear readers that we about lost our minds when the announcement was made that “Deadpool 2” is coming our way in 2017? We’ll wait till you finish screaming, fainting or picking yourself up off the floor. You’re welcome! Ryan Reynolds will return to test the breaking point of our funny bones — bring it!
“X-Men: Apocalypse” is once again testing our Fassbender-McAvoy feud as to who is the hottest. Hey, you have your way of celebrating the X-Men and we have ours — don’t judge! This time the fate of the world hangs in the balance — bring Jennifer Lawrence, she’s good with weapons and color changes.
If you’re looking for two people to bring hotness to comedy then look no further. Zac Efron and Anna Kendrick are bringing it with their film “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates.” We should all have that problem.
Of course, if you are looking to take our ticket money, and we mean SEVERAL times over then the wait it almost over. The film “Independence Day: Resurgence” brings back some (and we say some because you know who isn’t showing up for the party) of our favorite characters to re-annihilate some aliens! Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman and Judd Hirsch show the “kids” Liam Hemsworth and Joey King how it’s done.
Can we just say that Jeffrey Katzenberg is one of our favorite dudes and new-baby Jaycie is going to have a fine time hanging out with the animated film “Trolls.”
Okay, stop it, stop it right this minute! Michael Fassbender is back and this time he’s even more serious. Taking a moment to talk about the film “Assassins Creed,” he is getting us ready in ways we just can’t talk about.
“Birth of a Nation” is receiving plenty of buzz from director Nate Parker and cast that includes Armie Hammer, Jackie Earle Haley, Gabrielle Union, Mark Boone Junior (“Sons of Anarchy” lives!), Penelope Ann Miller, Aja Naomi King, Colman Domingo, Nate Parker and Katie Garfield.
Tim Burton asks us to “stay peculiar” which isn’t hard for us to do since it’s our morning mantra. Coming to theaters with starring Eva Green, Samuel L. Jackson, Asa Butterfield, Ella Purnell and Alison Janney with Dame Judi Dench is “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.”
LIONSGATE closes CinemaCon 2016 studio presentations with amazing works. Tyler Perry is bringing back theatre-goers favorite woman-with-an-attitude as “Boo! Madea Halloween.”
Now, we are going to be honest here, when Keanu Reeves came into the room, every bit of air was sucked right out. Of course it could have been just us because clearly he still has amazing star power (or just the ability to make the ladies swoon which is okay by us too!). On stage to talk about “John Wick 2,” Reeves is also a recipient of the CinemaCon Vanguard Award that will be presented later in the event. Congratulations Keanu!
We have decided that Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone are the super couple on screen and they are magical together. That is good news since they are starring in the new film “La La Land.” Yes, that’s a sigh your hearing as they dance together cheek to cheek!
“Deepwater Horizon” is the new film by Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg and it a film we truly want to see more of. The film tells the story of the oil rig that exploded in 2010 created the worst oil spill.
David Cooperfield isn’t going to let a chance like performing a little magic happen before the film “Now You See Me 2” without a few tricks of his own. Talk about feeling like kids, magic is just good fun! Jesse Eisenberg and Dave Franco are cool too.
To finish our time here at CinemaCon in the beautiful coliseum at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, it is time to put away our notepads, pens, cameras, recorders and anything else critic-like and dress up a bit. It is our opportunity to applaud and celebrate those who are being honored for their work on the big screen.
Jenise and I would like to thank CinemaCon for being gracious as always, Heather Lewandowski and crew from Rogers and Cowan for making our job not only easier but fun, the staff of Caesars Palace for your care and concern, STX Entertainment, Paramount Pictures, Warner Brothers, Walt Disney Studios, Universal Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Amazon Studios and Lionsgate for sharing the excitement of what is to come in theaters, and finally to NATO for bringing the coolest members to Las Vegas!
Here are the award winners for this year at CinemaCon!
2016 Big Screen Achievement Awards is hosted by Liz Hernandez from Access Hollywood. Here is a list of the winners:
Female Star of Tomorrow — Gina Rodriguez
Male Star of Tomorrow — Stephen Arnell
Breakthrough Director of the Year — Nate Parker
Comedy Stars of the Year — Zac Efron, Anna Kendrick & Adam Devine
Producer of the Year — Jason Blum
Cinema Icon Award — Susan Sarandon
Rising Star of the Year — Jack Huston
CinemaCon Vanguard Award — Keanu Reeves
Breakthrough Performer of the Year — Dave Franco
Award of Excellence in Acting — Bryce Dallas Howard
Ensemble of the Universe Award — The Cast of INDEPENDENCE DAY: Resurgence
Liam Hemsworth, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Maika Monroe, Jessie Usher, Sela Ward and Vivica A. Fox
Male Star of the Year — Jesse Eisenberg
Female Stars of the Year — Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, Christina Applegate and Annie Mumolo