CinemaCon’s second studio presentation of Day 3 was the one from Sony Pictures and its subsidiaries, and it was quite an event with many of Sony’s upcoming movies showing off their very first footage anywhere, covering most of the company’s 2014 line-up. The presentation was hosted by Sony’s President of Worldwide Distribution Rory Bruer, who seemed to be having some problems reading the introduction from the teleprompter, but after talking about Sony’s great last quarter of 2013 (ignoring the rest of the year), he set-up what they have in store for the rest of the year.
Of course, the summer kick-off sequel The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (May 2) played a big part in the presentation but they saved that for last, by showing the same 30 minutes of footage from the movie they showed to select journalists last week. ComingSoon.net’s Silas Lesnick did a good job describing that footage (see link above), but I’ll share some of our own thoughts (and maybe add a few more details) at the end after we go through the rest of Sony’s film slate and the other movie footage we saw.
22 Jump Street (June 13)
Anyone worried Sony may have already shown all the jokes from Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s comedy sequel in the previous trailers need not fear, because there is a LOT of funny material they’ve saving up, some of which showed up in the extended footage for the movie that kicked off Sony’s presentation reel.
Jonah Hill’s Schmidt and Channing Tatum’s Jenko are back, but this time they’re across the street where the captain of their division (Ice Cube) has set up fancy new headquarters. For their new mission, they’re not going back to high school–they’re looking way too old now–instead going to college with basically the same assignment, to try and find the source of the drugs from the first movie. The Captain tries to get it through their heads it’s the same mission to which Schmidt responds with something a white guy might say to sound cool to a black person, to which Cube responds, “Every time you speak, I want to throw up.”
First, they go see Rob Riggle and Dave Franco’s characters in prison to try to get more information about the drugs and we get an extended scene from the Red Band trailer with Franco getting the last laugh again. When they arrive at the college, Jenko starts to tear up a little bit saying that he’s the first person ever in his family to pretend to go to college.
In another scene, Schmidt is in a fight with a woman played Jillian Bell, who stops him and says, “Were you going to hit me?” but when he stops, she asks him what he’s doing, thinking he’s trying to kiss her, so the two of them are sort of in this weird moment where they might kiss or start fighting again, but she throws him off his game enough that she gets in the next shot. (It’s actually a much funnier scene than the way I’m describing it.)
There’s another funny scene where Schmidt and Jenko are hanging from a helicopter, Jenko holding Schmidt’s leg. When Schmidt tells Jenko to get his gun from out of his shorts, Tatum reaches up and well, you can only imagine, but it’s a pretty funny gag the way they play it out. In what should be another funny subplot set up, the Captain’s daughter introduces her father to her new boyfriend Schmidt, and that does not make him any happier. The footage ended with Tatum dancing around the Captain’s glass office singing “Schmidt’s f*cking the Captain’s daughter” as Cube just seems to get madder and madder.
Honestly, this looks like it will be as funny or funnier than the original movie, which is pretty amazing when you consider how often these remakes or reboots or whatever you want to call them just don’t work.
Deliver Us From Evil (July 2)
Sinister director Scott Derrickson’s follow-up to that film, based on the real life case files of Bronx police officer Ralph Sarchie (played by Eric Bana), looks like it could be this year’s The Conjuring, an intensely scary movie based on true-life supernatural case files. Rather than just showing the recent trailer, they expanded upon it with a couple of full sequences. It included some of the things from the trailer including the guy talking about the two kinds of evil and saying that the sergeant hasn’t seen true evil.
The scene of Sarchie’s daughter from the trailer was shown in a more linear fashion, giving it far more context. Basically, she has a number of toys in front of her including the jack in the box, which she cranks up and the owl head falls off the shelf and rolls towards her and the door slams shut. It’s later that night where she’s lying in bed and she hears the scraping under her bed so her father comes in to investigate, bouncing on the floor boards and looking under the bed but not finding anything, so he gives her a kiss and then we see the scarred man shown earlier coming in from the window behind him.
When the Game Stands Tall (Aug. 22)
This is a little different from what we normally see from Sony, especially during the summer, but apparently they’re also throwing their hat into the sports drama ring this year with a movie based on the De La Salle High School football team in California which was taken from out of obscurity and internal difficulties by coach Bob Ladouceur (Jim Caviezel) to go on to a 151-game winning streak. I don’t have a ton to say about the footage, a pretty decent extended trailer for the new movie from Thomas Carter (Coach Carter), but it did seem somewhat out of place amongst the other movies showcased.
Sex Tape (July 25)
Sony then showed the very first footage from the late summer R-rated comedy which reunites Cameron Diaz, Jason Segel and director Jake Kasdan, all from their 2011 comedy hit Bad Teacher.
The footage introduced us to married couple Annie and Jay who have fallen into a sexual rut, so she brings up the topic of making a sex tape. As we watch a very awkward and funny scene of them doing shots and acting as if they were making a porn film (and acting quite badly, I should add), they then go into some pretty crazy sexual stunts, many of which they find in a sex book. As they go to sleep after that crazy night, she asks if he deleted it, but as the camera pans to his computer screen, we see that the video file is actually being uploaded to his Cloud. Unfortunately, that Cloud is linked to dozens of iPads they gave to family and friends at Christmas who now will all see that crazy sex tape they made. So that’s the general premise of the movie in that Annie and Jay have to get back all the iPads they gave out as presents. That leads to a lot of madcap shenanigans as they try to stop people from seeing the video, including a funny scene with Rob Corddry where he asks them, “Who has sex for three hours? That’s as long as ‘Lincoln’you had ‘Lincoln sex!'” In another scene, Segel is being chased after by their friend’s German Shepherd, who he somehow knocks out so he goes on his iPhone and asks Siri how to give CPR to a dog. Yeah, I don’t think anyone needs to worry about Sex Tape being too intellectually high brow for anyone, but it’s certainly a good premise that hasn’t been explored so far in a mainstream comedy.
The Equalizer (Sept. 26)
During the presentation intro, Bruer mentioned that the reunion of Denzel Washington with Training Day director Antoine Fuqua to update the popular television show of the ’70s “takes visceral to another level” and he was not exaggerating, going by the footage shown.
It opened with a series of random shots of Denzel’s character McCall, a former black ops operative now living quietly in Boston, as Denzel’s voice-over talks about his character’s personal ideals. We see that he’s sitting at a diner counter with Chloe Grace Moretz’s Teri, who walks out and into a waiting limo. If you don’t know the general plot, Teri is a young prostitute on the streets, but something bad happens to her that forces McCall to come out of retirement.
This is where the footage picks up as McCall walks into a room with a handful of Russian thugs to confront (presumably) Teri’s pimp about her being roughed up and he offers him almost $10,000 to buy off her contract and get her free from that lifestyle. The pimp makes a derogatory comment to McCall, calling him the N-word, but then saying he’s kidding but refusing the offer, so McCall walks back to the door but instead of going through it, he locks it and then surveys the room and those in it. It’s a scene similar to what we’ve seen in Guy Ritchie’s “Sherlock Holmes” movies where everything in the room is analyzed to plan the best way to proceed. McCall looks at his watch and says “16 seconds” before heading back to the pimp’s desk and taking out each of the thugs in different and very violent ways, which includes using a corkscrew to stab the last thug a few times before jamming it right into his jaw so that you can see it in his mouth. It takes him slightly longer than 16 seconds to take them out.
This looks like another great role for Denzel Washington and I’m not even remotely surprised Sony already wants to greenlight a sequel to it, because it looks like the type of character that could drive future movies and Washington has yet to do anything even remotely like a franchise.
The sequel to the 2012 hit inspired by the Steve Harvey book, “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man,” brings the characters of that movie to Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, where CinemaCon is held in fact, and it seems like a fairly simple comedy premise. One of the couples is getting married and their friends are there for the bachelor and bachelorette parties, which eventually turns into a competition between the men and women to see who can get crazier.
The footage shown was essentially an extended version of the recent trailer with a few more jokes and a lot more focus on one of this year’s hottest stars, Kevin Hart. What’s good about this one is that it seems a little more fairly balanced between the guys and women, which might help it do even better among couples than the previous movie, which may have been more female-centric by the nature of Harvey’s book.
The Interview (Oct. 10)
The follow-up to last year’s Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg comedy This is the End looks like a very different type of movie from them. Once again, they’re writing and directing and reteaming Rogen with James Franco, who appeared in their previous movie, as well as Pineapple Express and had a cameo in The Green Hornet.
This time around, Franco plays hotshot TV journalist Dave Skylark, who is known for getting some of the most riveting TV interviews, including one we see where he gets Rob Lowe to admit that he’s secretly bald. Meanwhile, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has threatened to destroy the United States, attacking California with nuclear weapons, and when Dave and his producer Aaron (Rogen) discover that Kim is a fan of their show, they think that it might be great to get him on the show as an interview subject.
After a night of heavy partying celebrating their “get,” Dave and Aaron are woken up by a couple of CIA agents, one of them played by the awesome Lizzy Kaplan, and she tries to explain to them that when they meet the North Korean leader, the government wants the duo to “take him out” which creates way more confusion than necessary. We then see a bit of footage of the duo in North Korea where it adds a bit more action to the mix as they interact with the military personnel there.
I hate to say it because I have a great love and appreciation for Rogen and Goldberg’s work, but this was probably the only footage from a movie in Sony’s reel that just didn’t seem to strike a chord with those in attendance. Maybe the humor was too political or just not nearly as funny as other stuff they’ve done, but it just didn’t have the immediacy of some of Rogen/Goldberg’s previous ideas. This might be of interest to the more liberal CNN-watching crowd, but probably harder to appeal to mainstream moviegoers or some of their fans used to more scatological humor.
Fury (Nov. 14)
Speaking of Training Day, that film’s screenwriter David Ayer’s new movie Sabotage comes out tomorrow, but he’s already made another (and a very different) movie, the WWII epic about a group of soldiers in a tank with the word “Fury” stenciled on its gun turret, and it features a great cast that includes Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Michael Peña, Jon Bernthal (“The Walking Dead”) and Logan Lerman.
The footage included a beautifully-shot sequence of a German soldier riding on horseback through a graveyard of tanks before he’s attacked by Pitt who stabs him, knocking him off the horse and setting the horse free. Lerman plays a rookie joining the crew and we see him being hazed by the others, but we got a really good sense of the story and the camaraderie between the men through the footage shown. There’s a scene of Pitt and Lerman breaking into a house with two women and sort of wooing them, so there is a little bit of romance in the mix.
Their tank ends up breaking down in the middle of a road as a large SS battalion starts to march their way and while Pitt’s character offers to stay behind in the tank to defend it, he convinces the rest of the crew to stay with him. Whatever you want to say about LaBeouf, he’s proven himself as a strong dramatic actor, shown here by a scene between him and Pitt plus there’s another interesting scene showcasing Bernthal on a bit of a rant. It doesn’t look like the movie skimps on the action and explosions that people will expect from a war movie either.
Fury looks like a really strong dramatic film with fantastic imagery that puts Brad Pitt back into a role that will be familiar to fans of Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, only with less tongue-in-cheek. It also continues Ayer’s tradition of paying respect to the likes of police officers and soldiers as he’s been doing lately, and it wouldn’t be too surprising if this is one of Sony’s big award push movies later this year.
Annie (Dec. 19)
Last but not least in the main presentation reel was Sony’s big holiday musical, a reworking of the popular Broadway stage show that had already been made into a 1982 movie by John Huston and a 1999 TV-movie directed by Chicago‘s Rob Marshall.
Instead of just showing the recent trailer, we were given a full musical number that opens with Cameron Diaz’s Mrs. Hannigan going out, turning back to yell at the multi-ethnic orphan girls “to act as if they’re being treated well.” They start cleaning the house with mops and brooms and as they talk, it’s obvious they’re setting up them kicking into the classic musical number “It’s a Hard Knock Life.” That’s indeed what we watched as Beasts of the Southern Wild‘s Quvenzhané Wallis led the girls on a perfectly fine rendition of the song that had a bit of other footage cut into it showing the scale of things like the home of billionaire politician Will Stacks, Jamie Foxx’s character, who wants to adopt Annie to help his campaign. The number ends with Hannigan yelling at the girls, “And no singing or dancing!”
There’s been quite a lot of negative chatter about this movie since it was first announced and with the recent trailer, but honestly this seems like a pretty solid holiday release that should appeal greatly to younger girls and it seems to have a cast who will have fun with their roles and make this stand out from the previous filmed versions of the musical.
Between the Comic-Con footage plus numerous trailers and TV commercials, you would think maybe Sony have shown way too much from this movie, so that everything about it is already known. And yet, those 30 minutes of footage shown gave a decent cross-section of the movie not only by showing two strong action scenes from the movie–one high-paced, fun and exciting, the other full of tension and drama–but also continued to develop the relationship between Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker and Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy, who have amazing on-screen chemistry together.
Honestly, as someone who was getting a little burnt out on all of the stuff being shown from the movie in advance, one who was also worried they had shown too much from the movie already, I actually liked those 30 minutes. It was good to start by showing Richard Parker’s connection to Oscorp and what happened to Peter’s parents since that was one of the aspects of the “reboot” that differentiated it from Raimi’s trilogy. The chase of Paul Giamatti’s Aleksei Sytsevich as he drives his tow truck through the streets of New York, destroying things along the way, also worked well with lots of great quips from Spidey and culminating with a fun reunion with Gwen at the end. Some of the scenes run a little long like Peter and Gwen out on a “friend date” and Peter confronting Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx) once he goes full-on Electro in the middle of Times Square, but it was enough to get me curious to see how some of the different elements tie together, especially as we do see some brief bits of Spider-Man fighting both the mechanical Rhino and the Green Goblin. Foxx may be overplaying the villain a bit with some questionable voice modulation, but the CG used for his powers and the destruction it causes is quite spectacular, especially when we see him converting his whole body into electricity to escape from confinement. The part that Oscorp plays in this whole thing is also interesting, something that’s made more interesting when Dane DeHaan’s Harry Osborn goes to get Electro’s help to break into Oscorp and Electro slips out of his harness by turning into electricity.
Before the Spider-Man footage, Bruer also gave a brief mention of Sony’s bigger movies planned for 2015 including two Adam Sandler-related movies, the animated sequel Hotel Transylvania 2 (Sept. 25) and Pixels (no date yet), which sounds like a fun premise about three friends trying to fight off an alien invasion of Earth by popular retro video games.
As announced recently, Sony Animation Studios will do an all-animated untitled Smurfs movie (Aug. 14), and it looks like Dan Brown’s Inferno (Dec. 18) with director Ron Howard and Tom Hanks is still shooting for 2015 as well as the 24th installment of the James Bond franchise, aka Bond 24 (Nov. 6). Bruer also mentioned the Untitled Cameron Crowe Film slated for a Christmas release this year, just mentioning the cast of Bradley Cooper and Emma Stone with no further details beyond the enigmatic plot summary we have so far.
That’s it for what Sony Pictures showed at CinemaCon. Today is the 20th Century Fox presentation and Warner Bros.’ “The Big Picture,” both of which should be quite exciting, because they both have a lot of really cool and anticipated movies this summer.