CinemaCon: The 20th Century Fox Presentation

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20th Century Fox at CinemaCon

The last day of CinemaCon kicked off with the 20th Century Fox presentation for their upcoming 2015 film slate which included a mix of already-seen trailers as well some brand-new footage for some of the more anticipated movies of the fall movie season.

The presentation began with the 20th Century Fox logo music which was transformed into a remix by DJ Enferno, who started to cut in his own version of the “Peanuts” theme as breakdancers called the Academy of Villains did a routine on stage while Peanuts character clashed on the screens in bright colors. This made it pretty evident that the presentation was going to be a big showcase for one of Fox’s bigger family movies of the year.

Fox’s President of Domestic Distribution Chris Aronson came out dressed like a rapper B-boy in a yellow jacket and cap with headphones to huge laughs, and he walked over the podium and did the “wah wah wah” teacher thing before somebody came out to take his costume.

Aronson gave a speech about the great 2014 that Fox had with a worldwide gross of $5.5 billion and showed a sizzle reel of 2014 hits, before the company’s CEO and Chairman Jim Gianopulos and the studio’s new co-chairman Stacey Snider came out to present the footage for Fox’s 2015 line-up. 

The Peanuts Movie (Nov. 6)

They got right into the new 3D animated movie, from Blue Sky Studios based on the beloved characters from Charles M. Schultz, which starts with him drawing Charlie Brown, then showing some of the classic cartoons before Snoopy transforms into 3D animation. It looks pretty faithful to what’s been done before with Charlie Brown being an underdog who is helped by his best friend, his dog Snoopy, to try to overcome his awkwardness. Part of that is trying to get the attention of the little redheaded girl and Snoopy spurs him to ring her doorbell, but when he won’t, the dog rings the bell and runs. All of the favorites were represented, including Schroeder, Linus, Lucy, Pigpen and Peppermint Patty, but most of the focus was on Charlie Brown and Snoopy. It looks cute with a lot humor that should appeal to the fans of Schultz’s comics and cartoons, although the 3D animation is a little off-putting at least in this form. The Peanuts Movie is produced by Paul Feig, so they went right from that to Feig’s next comedy for Fox…

Spy Jason Statham

Spy (June 5)

They introduced Melissa McCarthy, but in real life it was rapper 50 Cent (who appears in the film) and he pretended that he was McCarthy who got so into character as a spy that she became a master of disguise. Then the real Melissa McCarthy appeared on the screen pretending to be 50 Cent and they did a bit of banter before Rose Byrne, Jude Law and Jason Statham came out to talk about each other’s performances and abilities and they showed some extended footage of the very funny comedy that killed at CinemaCon a few nights prior. 

After the presentation, I had a chance to sit down with director Paul Feig and 50 Cent as well as Rose Byrne and Jude Law in the far-too-dark nightclub Omnia which opens this weekend. You can watch those videos below (with apologies for the bad lighting) and we also got to chat a bit with Law about being in Guy Ritchie’s Knights of the Round Table, which they’re almost done filming. 

Poltergeist (May 22)

Right after the Spy footage, the screen flickered and went black to go right into the remake of Poltergeist, and after a few voices saying famous lines from the movie, they basically showed the existing trailer, which did not seem to add very much that was new. There may have been a few longer scenes paying homage to the original movie such as the scary clown and I got a brief glimpse of Sam Rockwell’s phase melting in the mirror, also a nod to the first movie.

Paper Towns (July 24)

The new John Green adaptation from Fox was next, but I’m not sure how much of this was from the existing trailer, although it showcases Nat Wolff in a leading role which makes me think he’d make a great Spider-Man. Basically the movie is about him meeting a girl named Margo who disappears… so wait… this is basically a young adult Gone Girl? It actually doesn’t look too bad and maybe it will surprise me like The Fault in Our Stars did last year.

Hitman: Agent 47 (August 28)

Next up was the latest movie based on the popular video game, which looks like another action-packed super-violent movie, this one starring Rupert Friend, Zachary Quinto and Hannah Ware. It opens in a similar way with Agent 47 being interrogated before escaping and going after Ware’s character, who is being protected by Quinto. When Agent 47 gets her, he says, “Do you know why you’re still alive? Because I chose not to kill you,” and we learn more about the plot in that she’s also an agent with some of the same speed, intelligence and strength he has, so he suggests she use it to escape. From there, there’s a lot more of the action including a helicopter crashing into an office space and blowing up. It’s late summer Labor Day opening weekend could help or hinder it, but  t certainly looks like it offers a lot of the big screen action that moviegoers often thrive on seeing.

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Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials (Sept. 18)

Since I still haven’t seen the original The Maze Runner and haven’t read James Dashner’s books, I won’t have a ton to say about the footage shown although it was indeed the first footage in which the Maze trials proved enough of a success that they’re ready to proceed with Phase 2 as Dylan O’Brien’s Thomas from the first movie and his friends are ready to take on WICKED in a very different environment. This one features “Game of Thrones” star Aidan Gillen as Janson, who seems to be a bit of a trainer for the boys who are now in an enclosed facility, but when they escape, they end up outside in The Scorch, a vast desert that is almost as brutal as the mazes, and Jason says they won’t last a day in the Scorch, so we see footage of the boys being pitted against all sorts of new challenges. It actually looks pretty cool and substantially bigger than the first movie,  and I probably should make an effort to watch the first movie and catch up before this one comes out.

Victor Frankenstein (October 2) 

This was followed in quick succession by the first footage from the new take on Frankenstein starring James McAvoy as the title character and Daniel Radcliffe as his henchman and friend Igor, who is not a hunchback in this version (at least not yet). The footage had an Old Victorian Steampunk look as we saw the monster being raised from the laboratory floor to the rooftop where lightning was striking its body to bring it to life. Basically it was this extended scene with the logo “This Fall, the legend will be reborn” with Frankenstein asking the inert monster, “Where is your soul?” at which it jumps to life.

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Fantastic Four (August 7)

Next, the studio talked about the Marvel movies they have coming up with three in 2016 and a new Wolverine movie in 2017, but their only superhero movie this year is an attempt to bring back Marvel’s premiere superhero family, The Fantastic Four. The screens on stage expanded with four new scenes on the sides of the main stage area showing the Fantastic Four members in their costumes and the four actors–Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Bell–came out to introduce the trailer, which was pretty much the latest one to be released.

After the presentation, we got to conduct one of the earliest interviews with the young actors that make up the Fantastic Four, which you can watch below. (The lighting is a little better than the other interviews since we switched to a different location.)

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The Revenant (Dec. 25)

This is where things started to get really fun as Gianopolus and Snider talked about their relationship with New Regency which has led to back-to-back Oscar Best Pictures with 12 Years a Slave and Alejandro Inarritu’s Birdman and this fall, they’re going to be releasing Inarritu’s latest film, a period adventure starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy and more. They decided to showcase some of the raw footage from two-time Oscar winner Emmanuel Lubezki which looked absolutely amazing as it follows a group of explorers facing the trials of nature and the natives in the Canadian wilderness. We saw footage of DiCaprio with a long beard and all sorts of amazing landscapes and battles with the natives, which made the film look a little bit like Terrence Malick’s The New World. There was almost no dialogue in the footage as it let Chivo’s images speak for itself. It’s hard to imagine that this movie won’t be in discussion in the awards race once again going just by the amazing look of what they’ve filmed so far.

Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip (Dec. 23)

They did a complete about face with the next movie, which was actually a bit of a fake-out teaser that said that showed Vegas, saying in the first movie they took it to the limit and in the second movie (with an image of Asia), they pushed it to the edge. Of course, we see that and we automatically think The Hangover (which isn’t even a Fox movie), but it soon became obvious they were talking about Alvin and the Chipmunks, though they didn’t have any actual footage to show.

Joy (Dec. 25)

They took a similar approach as The Revenant with David O. Russell’s upcoming drama, this one essentially a bunch of shots of the characters played by the likes of Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro (all three returning from Silver Linings Playbook) as church bells rang loudly, again with no dialogue, so it was impossible to tell what was going on or what the movie was about. 

The Martian (Nov. 25)

This was an amazing surprise and probably the best thing we saw at CinemaCon as they premiered the very first footage anywhere of Ridley Scott’s new space epic starring Matt Damon, who introduced the footage with a pre-recorded message.

The footage opened with a shot of NASA with a voiceover from Damon about how every human has the basic instinct and desire to help other humans with a few examples, and we see images of the other astronauts on their mission to Mars. When a storm hits their site, the mission is aborted and they get off the planet, but Jeff Daniels’ character is telling some members of the press that Damon’s Mark Watney character was hit by some debris and killed. We learn that wasn’t the case and he was left behind, trapped on Mars with no way to contact NASA. He knows it will take them four years to reach him, so he has to “science the f*ck out of this” and do what it takes to survive, including growing a garden in the tough environment. Somehow he’s able to get a message to his crewmates who are shocked to learn that he may still be alive so they mutiny against NASA to start a mission to go back and retrieve Watney, who Daniels’ character still doesn’t believe is alive.

This footage looked absolutely amazing (although they did give the caveat that the FX were unfinished) with the most obvious reference points being Interstellar or Gravity, but one could also easily reference Cast Away or Apollo 13 or even Mission from Mars. Hopefully this mark a comeback for Scott after the terribly disappointing Exodus: Gods and Kings last year.

The presentation ended with a sizzle reel showing footage from all the movies and giving a quick look at 2016 through a series of logos and release dates for all of the already-announced movies, including DeadpoolMiss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (from Tim Burton), Keeping Up with the JonesesEddie the Eagle, Independence Day, and many more. There also was a quick tease for Kung Fu Panda 3 with Jack Black’s popular character coming in and seeing the logo upside down, so he suggests everyone in the audience stand on their head, which is what he does.