For the second year in a row, ComingSoon.net is off to Las Vegas, Nevada, the real life Sin City, to attend the annual exhibitor’s convention ShoWest 2008.
For most of the world at large, ShoWest might seem like just another convention–lots of guys in suits schmoozing and networking–but for exhibitors and theater owners, it’s a chance to meet with the studios and distributors, to get an early taste of their wares for the coming months, particularly the summer movie season which always plays a huge part in the survival of the film industry. ShoWest might have played a big part in the success of the Shia LaBeouf thriller Disturbia after DreamWorks played it at last year’s convention, preceded by a sneak peak at their big summer blockbuster Transformers. It surely helped get theater owners excited about showing both movies: Disturbia went on to be the #1 movie three weeks in a row, and Transformers didn’t do so bad either. (Okay, Sony also played their animated penguin movie Surf’s Up, which also starred our Shia, but that didn’t do so well.)
The convention starts on Monday with International Day and runs through Thursday with a Gala Dinner and Awards Ceremony, and much of the week’s excitement will come from the amount of talent that will be appearing over the course of the week to receive awards, which to be honest, are mostly given out to entice them to show up. While ComingSoon.net will be talking to as many of them as possible, what’s really pulling us to show up are the early looks and sneaks at some of the potential summer blockbusters we’ll all be talking about in just a few months, and there should be some doozies this year.
Tuesday might as well be Paramount/DreamWorks Day as they’ll be opening the convention with a sneak preview of next year’s 3D-animated Monsters vs. Aliens, and they’ll close the day with the first screenings of Kung Fu Panda, DreamWorks Animation’s big summer movie. Like last year, they also promise lots of surprise appearances that we won’t give away just yet.
Sony will be inviting exhibitors to their gala Las Vegas premiere of their blackjack crime-thriller 21 on Wednesday night-the cast is being honored with an award later that week-but the Big Mama of the week will probably be Warner Bros.’ return to ShoWest (they skipped last year) with “The Big Picture ’08,” a star-studded presentation to show clips and bits from their summer movies like Speed Racer, The Dark Knight, Get Smart and Star Wars: The Clone Wars. The likes of Christopher Nolan, George Lucas, Steve Carell, Anne Hathaway and Emile Hirsch will be on hand for the presentation and a few of them will receive awards later that night. Others receiving awards include Brendan Fraser, Robert Downey Jr., Sarah Jessica Parker and Seth Rogen, and earlier in the week, the ShoWest Visionary Award will be presented to Robert Redford and the ShoWest/NATO Freedom of Expression Award will go to Ang Lee & James Schamus (for releasing Lust/Caution with its NC-17 rating apparently?) at a special luncheon.
Also during the week, there will be early screenings of movies like New Line/Walden Media’s anticipated Journey to the Center of the Earth 3-D, the Sundance favorite Hamlet 2 from Focus Features, and Fox’s What Happens in Vegas. Monday’s Independent Film Showcase will include the likes of the Oscar-nominated Mongol, David Mamet’s Redbelt, the Fox Searchlight documentary Young@Heart and others. (I almost wish I didn’t have to pick just two out of the seven movies screening on Monday night, since I’ve been dying to see Garth Jennings’ Son of Rambow again.)
Anyway, expect a lot of updates in the next few days, and if you ever get lost, you can find links to all of our stories and coverage from this year’s ShoWest convention by bookmarking this page and checking back a few times a day for new entries, which will be posted below, between now and Saturday: