Jeri Jacquin

This past week, Las Vegas hosted the annual NATO (National Association of Theatre Owners) CINEMACON gathering together to experience what the studios have to offer theatres with their coming slates for 2022-2023 and beyond.

Caesar’s Palace was the place to be as each studio called us into the Colosseum to talk about the return of the theatrical experience and thanking the theatre owners for hanging on during the Covid shutdown. Reopening to movie-lovers, theatre owners were thanked by studio executives and stars for recognizing that everyone wants to get back into theatres!

Starting on Monday, Sony studios began the convention with director David Leitch giving the audience a look at the new film starring Brad Pitt with BULLETTRAIN. The lovely Reese Witherspoon joins the fun via the big screen to talk about the highly anticipated summer film WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING.

One of my favorite actresses, Viola Davis is introduced by the director of her latest film THE WOMAN KING, Gina Price-Bythewood and receives the CinemaCon Trailblazer of the Year award. Marvel’s film EL MUERTO brings Bad Bunny to star in its Latinx character driven film that will hit theatres in January of 2024.

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse gives us a look at what’s to come and introduced by Phil Betancourt and Chris Miller. This installment has over two hundred and forty characters in six universes and that’s going to test my attention span for sure. Other films coming from Sony include 65 MOVIE, DEVOTION, MADAME WEB, KRAVEN, THE EQUALIZER, GHOSTBUSTERS AND VEMON.

Sony’s Chairman/CEO Tom Rothman talks about the upcoming film about George Foreman to close out the studio’s presentation.

Tuesday morning brought the studio Neon and right out of the gate is Matt Reeves, the director of the successful recent release of BATMAN. He announces that he will be heading up the next BATMAN film much to the excitement of the audience. My shock of the morning is watching the iconic David Cronenberg arrive on stage to introduce the trailer for the Viggo Mortensen-Kristen Stewart film CRIMES OF THE FUTURE. He says, “Seems an appropriate place to launch our attack on the world.”

Cronenberg also admits that writing CRIMES OF THE FUTURE took about 20 years and adding another confession that he has never been to Las Vegas. Welcome sir!

The film FIRE OF LOVE explores the relationship of love between a couple who also happens to love volcanos. An odd but interesting top for this Sundance award winner and I cannot wait to see it.

To finish the Neon presentation is MOONAGE DAYDREAM which is a film about the amazing David Bowie. We were treated to a performance of Hallo Spaceboy as director Brett Morgen says, “Bowie cannot be defined, he can be experienced”. If that were not enough, another performance of Heroes. Everyone in the audience was engrossed and emotional.

Warner Bros. presentation begins with Chairman Toby Emmerich talking about Reeves return for the next installment of BATMAN, followed by Denis Villenueve talking about his own excitement bringing DUNE 2 to the big screen in theatres. That is when the presentation is taken over by none other than Aisha Tyler.

Baz Luhrmann takes the stage to talk about the power of seeing a film in theatres and also talks about his next film ELVIS starring Austin Butler and Tom Hanks. He says, “it is not really a biopic but more about America in the 50s, 60s and 70s with Elvis Presley at the center of culture.”

Next, a look at the film WONKA starring Timothy Chalamet and THE FLASH starring Ezra Miller. Olivia Wilde takes the stage to talk about her directed film DON’T WORRY DARLING with Florence Pugh and Harry Styles. She says her film is a “love letter to the movies that push the boundaries of our imagination”. I don’t know Ms. Wilde, I can imagine quite a lot!

I absolutely loved seeing Helen Mirren enter the stage along with Zachy Levi and Asher Angel to talk about their new film SHAZAM! Fury of the Gods. Mirren says of her character, “She’s convinced of her righteousness.” James Wan offers up a trailer for AQUAMAN AND THE LOST KINGDOM and director Gary Dauberman gives us a take on the new Stephen King film SALEM’S LOT.

The roof always comes down when The Rock enters a large room, and the Colosseum is no exception. Coming in to do double duty introducing two of his films DC SUPER PETS and BLACK ADAM, he couldn’t waste the chance to talk about the bromance with Kevin Hart “who continues to be like my third child”.

Talking about BLACK ADAM, Johnson says it is “truly a dream of mine” and shares the stage with Quintessa Swindell and Noah Cent and a peek at the film. Chairman of Warner Bros. Pictures Toby Emmerich is on hand to give Johnson the Entertainment Icon of the Decade Award. Well deserved!

Jason Blum refers to his new film THE BLACK PHONE as ‘scary as hell’ and the audience will have a chance to see it for themselves later in the evening. Ethan Hawke gives a startling and stunning performance in this eerie film that is going to keep me up nights for a while.

Wednesday morning starts out with a smile on my face particularly because Disney is bringing it all it has to offer. Starting out the morning with a peek at the upcoming slate, it is exciting to see more. Starting with Chris Evans, as the voice of Buzz Lightyear, screening to the audience a thirty-minute preview of the highly anticipated family film LIGHTYEAR coming this summer.

The film AMSTERDAM stars Christian Bale and Robert DeNiro is coming in November and BOB’S BURGER coming in May. Jon Landau announced the re-release of AVATAR this September as James Cameron gives the audience a peek at AVATAR: The Way of Water. And that is exactly how you end a presentation, with a big blue bang!

Universal Pictures and Focus Features bring their presentations starting out with writer/director Jordan Peele talking about his next film NOPE. Waiting for its release, he says, “I’m going to personally thrive on the amount of times I hear the word nope”, and I hope he has a counter on hand because from the looks of it – the number of times is going to be infinite!

Jamie Lee Curtis is always a joy and a laugh to see as I did a few years ago when she was promoting the HALLOWEEN film. She is back to talk about the next film HALLOWEEN ENDS saying that playing Laurie Strode has “been the ride of my life”. Her final warning about the new film is “trust me it’s gonna f**k you up!” and I trust her!

Allison Williams brings a trailer for the film M3GAN and the film BEAST OF NO NATION with Idris Elba. Ko Joy decides to have a little fun with the audience to get them ready for a look at his new film EASTER SUNDAY. I am so looking forward to the dark film THE LAST VOYAGE OF THE DEMETER since I am a wicked period piece fan, this is going to be good.

If lots of laugh is what anyone is looking for, Steve Carell promises that we will get just that with the new installment from Illumination of MINIONS: The Rise of Gru. Along with that, Carell does not mind offering up Gru-voice lessons that are equally as hilarious.

The first entire LGBTQ cast is brought about by Billy Eichner and the film BROS, George Clooney and Julia Roberts come together again with a TICKET TO PARADISE, Carey Mulligan brings SHE SAID to the screen in November and MRS. HARRIS GOES TO PARIS is coming this July. Other films include VENGEANCE, SPOILER ALERT, CHAMPIONS, Anthony Hopkins film ARMAGEDDON TIME, and the Kate Blanchett starring in TAR.

Like a kid weeks before Christmas, I am excited to see any sneak peek or just the name mentioned of DOWNTON ABBEY: A New Era. On stage a special message is brought from the cast that just gets me giddy all over again.

Speaking of Christmas, what is the holiday season without a good horror film as David Harbour gives the audience a look at VIOLENT NIGHT. Our favorite swash-buckling cat is back with PUSS IN BOOTS: The Last Wish but a certain perro in the film thinks he has what it takes to declaw our hero with new charm.

Finally, and what a way to end the evening, Jeff Goldblum and Bryce Dallas Howard give a never-before-seen footage peek at JURASSIC WORLD: Dominion. Bigger, badder and madder dinosaurs are hitting the screen in weeks!

On Thursday, the final day of CinemaCon, the Paramount presentation begins with a supersonic performance that reminds us that SONIC THE HEDGEHOG 2 is still ringing at the box office. Chris Aronson, President of Domestic Distribution for Paramount, dressed like Eggman with the warning “papa has a brand new stache’!” He also introduces a reel to show what is coming with such films as TOP GUN MAVERICK, PAWS OF FURY, BABYLON, DUNGEONS & DRAGONS, IF, TIGERS APPRENTICE, PAWS and A QUIET PLACE: Day One. Brian Robbins talks films of 2023 with TRANSFORMERS, TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES and BOB MARLEY.

That all leads up to a message from Tom Cruise who could not attend CinemaCon because he was filming his newest MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: Dead Reckoning Part One. On the wings of a biplane, he apologizes for not being able to attend and hopes we all understand before hanging on as the plane makes a daring dive! All of this leads up to a first screening of TOP GUN MAVERICK.

The final presentation on the final day of CinemaCon comes from Lionsgate with host Sebastian Mariscalco. Starting off with an introduction by 50 Cent, a preview of EXPENDABLES 4 hits the screen followed by a look at the horror offering THE DEVIL’S LIGHT. Rachel McAdams and Abby Fortson have the chance to talk about their newest film ARE YOU THERE GOD? IT’S ME MARGARET.

Helen Mirren makes another appearance on stage to present WHITE BIRD: A Wonder Story. Director Mark Forster says it “is a film of magical realism that is both beautiful and emotional”. That is an amazing description of the film.

Robert DeNiro and Kim Cattrall talk the film ABOUT MY FATHER from Sebastian Mariscalco. DeNiro says, “Your father was a guy I sort of understand” which is probably the most amazing compliment ever.

Director Chad Stahciski and Keanu Reeves talk JOHN WICK CHAPTER 4. Keanu cracked me up saying, “and to think, this all started because of a puppy.” Dang it Keanu, can you be any cuter? Just a personal observation.

To wrap up the Lionsgate presentation, more films coming include Eli Roth’s BORDERLANDS, BALLERINA, DIRTY DANCING 2 and HUNGER GAMES: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.

The final show at CinemaCon is the BIG SCREEN ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS that go the following actors, congratulations to them all and well deserved.

Cinema Verite Award – Robert DeNiro

Comedy Star of the Year – Billy Eichner

Rising Star of 2022 – Abby Ryder Fortson

CinemaCon Vanguard Award – Rachel McAdams

Star of Tomorrow – Glen Powell

CinemaCon Star of the Year – Zoe Saldana

There you have it, the four days of presentations, stars, studios and theatre owners all gathered in one place to celebrate what we love the most – MOVIES! As 2022 begins to reopen, so do our favorite theatres that are popping the popcorn, keeping the soda’s cold, and stocking up on our favorite movie candy’s. As the theatrical experience brings us all back together to see everything as it was meant to be seen, you can be sure I will review it all.

Our thanks to Sony, Neon, Warner Bros. Pictures, Walt Disney Studios, Universal Pictures, Focus Features, Paramount, and Lionsgate for bringing us such exciting previews. Thanks to Cesar’s Palace for our yearly home away from home with your thoughtful staff.

See you next year CinemaCon and thank you!



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About the Author

Jeri Jacquin

Jeri Jacquin covers film, television, DVD/Bluray releases, celebrity interviews, festivals and all things entertainment.