CinemaCon shows new ideas coming to theaters

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CinemaCon shows new ideas coming to theaters


From left, Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg, Angela Bassett and Henry Cavill, from the upcoming film “Mission: Impossible Fallout,” mingle onstage during CinemaCon 2018, the official convention of the National Association of Theatre Owners, at Caesars Palace on Wednesday. [AP/YONHAP]

LAS VEGAS - The summer moviegoing season roared to life with the record-breaking opening weekend for “Avengers: Infinity War,” but industry leaders want audiences and theater owners to know that a healthy movie business is not just about the superheroes.

Last week at the 2018 CinemaCon convention, where movie theater owners, exhibitors, celebrities and studio executives gather in Las Vegas to preview their upcoming slates, attendees got a look at what’s to come in the next calendar year - and what’s worth getting excited about - from Tiffany Haddish to the irresistible movie musical.

Tiffany Haddish’s star keeps rising

It’s funny to think that last year at this time, most people didn’t know who Tiffany Haddish was. Her star-making film, “Girls Trip,” didn’t arrive in theaters until July and when the cast took the stage at the convention one year ago, she was the unknown alongside her more famous co-stars. This year, the tables were turned.

Haddish brought her high-wattage star and irresistibly funny honesty to multiple presentations, including Universal for “Night School,” with Kevin Hart, and “The Secret Life of Pets 2,” and Paramount for a Tyler Perry comedy and then again for Lionsgate’s “Uncle Drew.” Haddish had the notoriously staid crowd in stitches, talking about everything from her aching big toe to how she knows when a movie is going to be funny.

Switching it up

Superheroes and brands are only part of the equation, said basically every studio except Disney, which has become the king of the box office relying on both, with brands that include Star Wars, Marvel Pixar and its live-action and animation properties. Instead of trying to copy the Hollywood behemoth, the other studios talked up their differences.

For some, like Amazon and STX, that meant going for a shock factor. Amazon Studios turned some stomachs showing a scene from Luca Guadagnino’s “Suspiria” remake over lunch. The thriller, starring Dakota Johnson, looks like a cross between “Black Swan” and “The Exorcist” and had some attendees tweeting about being “traumatized” over the images.

Others talked up their prestige dramas, like “La La Land” director Damien Chazelle’s Neil Armstrong biopic “First Man,” starring Ryan Gosling, and “12 Years a Slave” director Steve McQueen’s revenge drama “Widows,” with Viola Davis.

When in doubt, show a musical

Have you heard? “The Greatest Showman” was a hit, and the story of its unconventional success was a refrain heard over and over at the convention. The Hugh Jackman-led musical defied all industry models and came back from a deadly opening weekend to become a veritable global blockbuster. And this year, some of the biggest crowd pleasers had an overt musical element, whether it was Cher performing Abba’s “Fernando” with a dozen backup dancers to promote “Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again!” some tear-jerking footage from Bradley Cooper’s “A Star is Born” remake, with Lady Gaga, or a “We Are The Champions”-scored trailer for the Freddie Mercury biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

#MeToo? Not here

At the first CinemaCon since the Me Too Movement and Time’s Up rocked society, the industry convention took a hard pass in acknowledging the movement.

Quentin Tarantino, who came under fire for subjecting Uma Thurman to a dangerous stunt in “Kill Bill,” and a 2003 interview about Roman Polanski, was given a king’s welcome by Sony Pictures Chairman Tom Rothman, who surprised theater owners with Tarantino and Leonardo DiCaprio to hype “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” Popularly known as Tarantino’s “Manson” film, none uttered the name Charles Manson or Sharon Tate Polanski.

During the 20th Century Fox presentation, a new trailer for “Deadpool 2” prominently featured T.J. Miller.

Amazon Studios, which saw program chief Roy Price resign in October amid sexual harassment allegations, alluded to “a time of change,” mentioning new studio chief Jennifer Salke, but not Price. AP
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