The Sony Pictures presentation Thursday at CinemaCon in Las Vegas was light on celebrity guests, but the ones who were there made up for it with a bit of showmanship.
As Rory Bruer, the studio’s president of worldwide distribution, was touting Sony’s 2012 successes, he was interrupted by a burst of fanfare, as a quartet holding trumpets and dressed as Roman centurions entered, followed by more centurions carrying chariots containing Grown Ups 2 stars Adam Sandler, Kevin James, David Spade and Salma Hayek.
Sandler introduced Spade as Ellen DeGeneres and James as Channing Tatum, and Spade joked that “you may know us from Twilight.” Sandler made some jokes about Sony’s upcoming slate — “You overseas people are fucking excited about Smurfs 2” — and then talked a bit about his own movie, which finds the characters from the first Grown Ups moving back to their childhood hometown. “It’s a sweet, funny movie,” he said. “It’s very heavy on the comedy. It’s PG-13, but it’s very family-friendly.”
After the actors left the stage, Bruer introduced footage from upcoming films, and mentioned that the studio will release After Earth, Elysium and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 in IMAX. The reel began with the Grown Ups 2 trailer, featuring a moose urinating on Sandler’s face, among other hijinks.
Footage from M. Night Shyamalan’s After Earth showed Will and Jaden Smith as father-and-son space explorers stranded on a future Earth abandoned by humans, where familiar animals have mutated into deadly, monstrous versions of themselves. Both actors were sporting some sort of inscrutable accent.
Next up was Captain Phillips, directed by Paul Greengrass and starring Tom Hanks in the title role. Based on the true story of a shipping vessel invaded by Somali pirates, the film looks suspenseful and action-packed.
Footage from The Smurfs 2 featured unfinished special effects but introduced some big set pieces taking place in France, where the evil Gargamel (Hank Azaria) has kidnapped Smurfette so he can steal her magical powers.
In Battle of the Year, Lost veteran Josh Holloway plays a tough but fair coach who helps train a team of dancers (the cast includes singer Chris Brown) for an international competition.
Next came a longer look at the animated Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2, in which the machine that made food rain from the sky in the first film has now spawned an island full of food/animal hybrids (taco-dile supreme, etc.), and the main characters must shut the machine down before the food animals escape the island and overrun the world.
The trailer for The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, based on the popular novel series by Cassandra Clare, featured a lot of demon-fighting and a hint of romance as a teenage girl (Lily Collins) discovers she’s part of an ancient battle between good and evil.
There was a surprising amount of plot revealed in the trailer for Kimberly Peirce’s remake of Carrie, based on the Stephen King novel and starring Chloe Grace Moretz and Julianne Moore. The trailer included versions of infamous moments from the original film, including the climactic chaos at the prom, where Carrie is drenched in pig’s blood and takes revenge on her classmates. It also showcased a more extensive use of Carrie’s telekinetic powers than in the 1976 original.
The longest look in the presentation came for the thriller White House Down, which stars Channing Tatum as a police officer who finds himself in the White House as it comes under attack from terrorists, and must save the president (Jamie Foxx). The footage was filled with explosions, with a sort of buddy-cop vibe between Tatum and Foxx, who gets heavily involved in the action. Director Roland Emmerich, who destroyed the White House in Independence Day, does so again, and the footage even included a character making an explicit reference to Emmerich’s earlier film.
Bruer had earlier talked about the studio’s international acquisitions, and the next footage came from Russian World War II epic Stalingrad, which looks every bit as grandiose and impressive as a Hollywood blockbuster. The clips managed to convey the scope and bombast of the movie without including a single line of dialogue.
Next was a surprisingly long look at the documentary One Direction: This Is Us, the concert and behind-the-scenes documentary about the popular British boy band, from director Morgan Spurlock. With Spurlock’s background in more substantive documentaries, the movie looked like it would be more than just 3D performance footage.
Elysium, the new movie from District 9 writer/director Neill Blomkamp, also received an extended look, showing Matt Damon as a reformed criminal living on a dystopian future Earth. Exposed to deadly radiation at his job, Damon’s character undertakes an invasion of the sophisticated space station where Earth’s ultra-rich reside. The footage showed Damon bonded with an armored exoskeleton and fighting armed robots, all with the goal of pulling off a “data heist,” downloading top-secret information into his brain.
A brief glimpse at David O. Russell’s American Hustle offered little more than looks at the 1970s attire of stars Bradley Cooper, Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence. The preview of George Clooney’s World War II-set Monuments Men was equally quick, although it did feature a video introduction from Clooney and producer Grant Heslov, in which Clooney jokingly referred to the event as Comic-Con. He and Heslov spent half their time holding their Oscars for Argo before seriously thanking the audience and teasing the star-studded cast (which includes Clooney, Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett, Bill Murray and John Goodman).
The final set of footage came from the apocalyptic comedy This Is the End, co-written and co-directed by star Seth Rogen. Featuring a range of actors playing themselves, the film looks at what happens when the end of the world arrives while stars are busy partying at James Franco’s house. The scenes showcased included a long, profane argument between Franco and Danny McBride about a porn magazine, and Emma Watson arriving to steal the group’s supplies.
The presentation ended with an array of titles set for later release, closing with the logo for The Amazing Spider-Man 2, which opens in May 2014.