FADE IN: CinemaCon 2022 Highlights Reveal Upcoming Blockbusters

CinemaCon is an annual gathering in Las Vegas organized by exhibitors (movie theaters), which gives movie studios such as Disney, Paramount, Warner Brothers, and others a chance to offer a look at what’s coming up. Each year, it is the largest gathering of movie theater owners from around the world and is an event open to anyone within the industry and the media. This year the convention was held at Caesar’s Palace, and each of the major studios was able to show sizzle reels that would excite the exhibitors and offer the promise of successful times ahead. Each major studio had something exciting to offer. Most of the announcements made at this annual event are for projects immediately on the horizon, so if a film is planned for much more than three years ahead of filming, the details about such films might be scarce. Most of the representations tend to focus on completed projects or major project announcements.

Sony Pictures: Opening night for CinemaCon was April 25, and Sony Pictures was the first studio presentation. Last year’s convention was held in August, and Sony knocked their presentation out of the park by offering attendees the first look at Ghostbusters: Afterlife. By the first look, this was not just a trailer (trailers had been out for years for that film due to pandemic-related delays) or a sizzle reel. The studio went all-out, and attendees who wondered why the Sony presentation was scheduled to be longer than two hours suddenly realized Sony would show them the entire film. This year, Sony announced that the Ghostbusters franchise would officially be getting a sequel. They also announced that the Venom franchise would be getting one but did not give details about these projects.

Sony did show off the first ten minutes of the upcoming Brad Pitt Bullet Train, set to be released later this summer. It also showed footage for the animated sequel Spider-Man Across the Spiderverse, a film which has a slight delay in its release. It will now drop in summer 2023. The third in the trilogy, Spider-Man: Behind the Spiderverse, will drop in early 2024. Also announced for 2024 is the first Latino-led Marvel film El Neurito, starring Bad Bunny.

Warner Brothers: The following day, Warner Brothers held their presentation. In some ways, the studio started from a disadvantage and had to work a little harder to win back the excitement of the exhibitors, as their 2021 plan of releasing big films’ day and date” to HBO Maz was not something the theater owners appreciated. The ability for the audience to stream brand new movies at home generally was something that would keep them away from theaters. The presentation focused on the studio’s move to correct this mistake. Attendees were able to see some new footage from the upcoming Flash movie, which will have surprises from the past with both Ben Affleck’s and Michael Keaton’s Batman characters returning. Reports say that much of the new footage indicated that Keaton’s role in the film is not a cameo and will be a significant part of the story. Studio chairman Toby Emmerich also announced that The Batman would be getting a sequel, and director Matt Reeves and star Robert Pattinson would be returning. Images from the upcoming live-action Barbie film (starring Margot Robbie) were also shown to attendees. The film is set to drop next summer.

Acclaimed director Baz Lurhman spoke during the presentation and spoke about how he was happy with The Batman’s performance and how glad he is that people are returning to theaters. He introduced exclusive footage from his upcoming film, Elvis, scheduled for release in July.

While the presentation included footage for upcoming franchise-related projects such as Aquaman: The Lost Kingdom, DC League of Superpets, Black Adam, and Shazaam: Fury of the Gods, attendees also got a glimpse into non-franchise projects such as the new Salem’s Lot film, based on the Stephen King novel, as well as Wonka (starring Timothy Chalamet).

Disney/Marvel: At their presentation, Disney/Marvel held back a little and did not reveal any footage from Thor: Love and Thunder or Wakanda Forever. Marvel Studio president Kevin Feige indicated that he would begin to plan the stories representing the next ten years of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The studio did show some footage from the upcoming Pixar film Lightyear, introduced by the film’s star, Chris Evans. Yet, the most anticipated segment of the Disney presentation was Avatar: The Way of Water. Attendees were offered a glimpse of the long-awaited Avatar sequel, releasing this upcoming holiday season. Viewers will be able to see a remastered version of the original film, which still holds the distinction of being the number one box office film of all time. The question is: are viewers still interested in this universe and these characters?

Universal: Universal used its presentation to show footage from 17 upcoming films, mostly in the horror or comedy genres. Highlights include extended footage from Jordan Peele’s Nope, dropping this summer, and the sequel Halloween Ends, set for an October release. Attendees got a look at the horror film Megan, about a creepy and protective robotic doll, before the studio’s comedic slate from upcoming movies was revealed (including a new Minions film, a Friday sequel, among others. As for the more dramatic fare, the studio announced She Said (about the Harvey Weinstein scandals) and the theatrical release of Downton Abbey: A New Era.

The capper of Universal’s presentation was some exclusive footage for the upcoming blockbuster, Jurassic World: Dominion, which will end the Jurassic saga by combining the casts of both the Park and World franchises for one last hurrah.

Paramount: One of the most revered studios in Hollywood has been through its share of low points these last few years, but it took some time during its presentation to celebrate the success of recent projects like the Sonic franchise, The Lost City, JackAss Forever, and the latest Scream film. As far as new projects go, attendees got a look at footage from Babylon, a film set in the 1920s about Hollywood’s challenges as films transitioned from the silent era to “talkies.”

Paramount also showed footage for the upcoming Transformers: Rise of the Beasts. Though no “beast” like Transformers were shown in the brief clip, viewers did get a look at Optimus Prime in all his glory (looking much like he did in the 2018) Bumblebee film and Arcee, historically the first female Transformer, fighting for the Autobots. Don’t let her pink colors and feminine appearance deceive you. According to attendees, she looked ready to kick ass. Paramount revealed the first footage from the upcoming Chris Pine vehicle, Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves. Movie star Tom Cruise “called in” with a video to the event, as he was still filming daring due stunts for upcoming Mission Impossible movies. The first of these sequels, Mission Impossible Dead Reckoning Part One, will be released next summer, with Part Two to come the following summer.

For attendees, the highlight of the presentation was being the first to see Top Gun: Maverick, which will be released next month.

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