20th Century Fox launched CinemaCon Day 4 with a big musical number to get exhibitors excited about their upcoming animated sequel Rio 2 (April 11), as Ester Dean and B.O.B. came out with dozens of samba dancers to perform “Take You to Rio” from the movie. It was the type of thing that helps to make a movie memorable at CinemaCon with so much footage being shown from so many movies.
The number was followed by a few quick words from Fox’s President of Domestic Distribution Chris Aronson, who then introduced the company’s CEO and Chairman Jim Gianopulos, who got the honors of presenting 20th Century Fox’s upcoming summer and fall slate. First, he brought out Cameron Diaz and Leslie Mann to introduce an extended trailer for their comedy The Other Woman, which comes out on April 25. It looks funny enough, but probably the idea of three women getting revenge on the man who cheated on all of them would have more interest to women than men, I’d imagine.
Fox’s summer slate consists of three tentpole movies, all sequels to very successful previous films.
X-Men: Days of Future Past (May 23)
Probably one of the most anticipated movies of the summer is Bryan Singer’s return to the “X-Men” franchise which combines the casts of the original three movies and those of X-Men: First Class. It has a plum Memorial Day release, which should allow it to possibly strive for a few new box office records this summer going by the growing anticipation.
Fox decided to show the first 7 minutes or so of the movie which opens in and apocalyptic and dystopian future where mutants are being hunted. We see a number of coffin-like ships flying in the sky and we go inside as the bay doors open dropping a number of large robots i.e. Sentinels down to the ground.
Inside a large bunker, we get our first view of the new mutants of the future: Blink (Bingbing Fan), Warpath (Booboo Stewart), Bishop (Omar Sy), Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page), Iceman (Shawn Ashmore), Sunspot (Adan Canto) and Colossus (Daniel Cudmore). Fans of earlier X-Men movies will recognize three of those characters, but we don’t get much time to learn their names before giant drills start poring through the thick stone ceiling and the Sentinels attack!
Blink uses her teleportation powers to shift her and Proudstar away while Bishop calls to Sunspot to charge him up with his fiery elemental powers. Kitty runs off with Bishop, phasing him through everything in their way until they arrive inside a bunker of sorts. He lies down and she puts her hands on each side of his head and some sort of energy passes between them, as the rest of the mutants fight hard against the Sentinels, who are adapting to their powers throughout the fight. Colossus, who can transform his skin into steel, takes on one Sentinel single-handedly and at one point mid-grapple, he uses his powers to freeze the Sentinel by turning it into steel. Bobby Drake aka Iceman creates an ice slide as he blasts the Sentinels with his ice powers and Blink continues to use her teleportation powers to help her teammates get out of danger. (We’re not going to give you any spoilers here, but a couple of the characters are definitely killed in the melee.) Warpath ends up being one of the few mutants standing in the path of two or three Sentinels trying to get to Pryde and Bishop, but as the flaming Sentinel melts the heavy steel door of the bunker and sticks its head in ready to blast Kitty and the prone Bishop, she says “Too late, a$$hole” and the two of them vanish as a giant fire blast heads in their direction.
The footage looked really good, giving us a good idea of the powers of the new mutant characters even though we probably won’t see much of any of them beyond the opening scene. It was surprising that they didn’t spend any time showing the ’70s versions of Professor X, Magneto or Mystique since one assumes they will be the primary focus of the movie.
How to Train Your Dragon 2 (June 13)
20th Century Fox didn’t distribute the original How to Train Your Dragon from DreamWorks Animation, but they should definitely reap some profits from its sequel, which begins with a voiceover by Jay Baruchel’s character Hiccup talking about how his city has changed in the five years since the first movie as the Vikings and dragons are not only coexisting but having something called “Dragon Racing.” We see a little bit of this game that is like Harry Potter’s Quidditch only with the dragon riders using painted sheep as the balls that they throw into targets. While the King seems to be having a grand old time, especially on the release of the “Blood Sheep” that flies into the air from a catapult, he wonders where his son Hiccup is.
We then cut to the skies far out over the ocean where Hiccup is riding on his dragon Toothless completely oblivious to anything else, but at one point he jumps off the dragon and starts soaring towards the ground, freediving basically, and as they crash through clouds, he eventually spreads out his arms to show he has similar wings to that of Toothless as the two of them glide through the skies to the earth. Once down there, they fight playfully with each other, a cute sequence that should appeal to fans of the first movie without really giving much away about the plot for the sequel.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (July 11)
There have been a couple of teasers for this anticipated sequel directed by Matt Reeves (Cloverfield), but the footage shown during Fox’s presentation gave us the best idea of what to expect from the growing rift between apes and humans. Taking place 10 years after the events in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Caesar and his apes have moved into the forest and we see lots of great scenes of the apes climbing up trees and riding on horseback, as well as a good sense of how they’re becoming more militaristic as they try to protect their new home from human intruders. There are some great shots of the apes in full regalia that looks like it could have been taken right out of one of the movies from the early 70s.
After seeing the apes quietly setting up their new home, a human in the form of Toby Kebbell arrives at the apes’ camp, their first human contact in many years, wanting to make a deal, and we also see Gary Oldman and the humans in their own camp, which includes Keri Russell and Kirk Acevedo (“Oz”) arguing about whether the apes were responsible for the virus that killed so many humans. The footage also showed quite a bit of Maurice the Orangutan, who seems to be taking a more peaceful approach to living although the only ape who we actually hear talk is Caesar, who at one point bellows “Apes! Together! Strong” as the footage seems to be leading up to a war between the two factions.
The footage ended with a fun scene where two humans with machine guns see a large chimpanzee in the distance so they immediately grab their guns and tell it to stand back, but the ape acts all playful and harmless, doing somersaults to get closer to the men who are still on edge. Eventually, the ape gets to where they’re sitting and plops down next to them, picks up their bottle of alcohol and takes a swig before spitting it back out, and they all seem to be having a good laugh until the ape quickly grabs one guy’s machine gun and shoots the other armed man before aiming the gun back at the first one.
The Fault in Our Stars (June 6)
Hot on the heels of her appearance in the hit Divergent, Shailene Woodley was on hand to present footage from her passion project based on John Green’s bestselling novel about Hazel, a teenager with terminal cancer who falls in love with Gus, a guy in remission she meets in her support group. Woodley talked about how her character wears an oxygen tube throughout the movie and that it was something depicted on the poster, rather than being omitted. The footage essentially expanded on the existing trailer.
The Maze Runner (Sept. 19)
The new trailer for the adaptation of James Dashner’s bestselling book just came online last week so there wasn’t a lot more to share, although it definitely looks a little cooler and more male-friendly than some of the other recent Young Adult novel adaptations.
Gone Girl (Oct.3)
Speaking of adaptations, David Fincher’s adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s engaging and bestselling thriller starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike certainly should interest a lot of the fans of the book, and Fox showed off some of the first footage, potentially a trailer that included a lot of images to the tune of a song that we didn’t recognize. The story involves the marriage between Nick and Amy Dunne, which ends tragically when she disappears and is assumed dead. If you know the book, there aren’t too many revelations to be had, but a lot of the footage included the search for Amy’s body and Nick hiding out in his home as the media turns on him, accusing him of being the killer, something he goes on television to deny. The film looks like a dark and moodier version of Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones, and it should definitely be of interest to those who read the book and Fincher fans in general.
Secret Service (Oct. 24)
Gianopulos also gave a special focus to a movie that’s probably under many radars right now, that being the new movie from X-Men: First Class and Kick-Ass director Matthew Vaughn, once again adapting a comic book by the latter’s creator Mark Millar, this time in collaboration with Watchmen co-creator Dave Gibbons. The general premise involves Colin Firth as Jack Unwin, an agent in an international espionage organization known as the Kingsmen who finds a possible new recruit in a street kid known as “Eggsy” (played by Taron Egerton). As with most of Millar’s comics work, it’s a funny and often violent satire on the secret agent movies from the 60s and Fox decided to use their presentation to show the very first footage of the movie anywhere.
The scene opens in a pub where Firth’s Jack is having a chat with Eggsy about his potential, but the obstinate youth isn’t really listening to anything the man in front of him has to say, even though he clearly seems to know a lot about the troubled youth. In the middle of their conversation, a bunch of young goons come into the pub after Eggsy who stole one of their cars, and the lad suggests that Jack should go but he wants to finish his beer, so he sits there despite the threat of numbers in the group of hoodlums. After enough goading, Jack finally gets up and walks to the door but instead of going out, he locks it–similar to the scene from The Equalizer shown at the Sony presentation the night before–and states that “manners make the man.” When the lead thug asks him to repeat himself, Jack takes his umbrella and uses it to hit a beer mug right into the guy’s face and while the others hesitate, one of them finally lunges towards Jack and is taken out just as violently. Firth’s Jack is more John Steed than James Bond as he takes out the rest of the group just as effectively using a combination of hand-to-hand combat and his umbrella, but when one of the thugs pulls out a gun to shoot him, he opens the umbrella and we find out it’s bulletproof. Not only that, but there’s also a built-in gun that he uses to shoot the last thug in the chest. The bartender is on the phone ready to call the cops so Jack uses his watch to send a tranquilizer dart into his neck, knocking him out.
After this scene, we got a nice variety of footage with Firth’s character narrating and telling us about the Kingsmen, as well as seeing a few shots of Samuel L. Jackson as the villain Dr. James Arnold, in an odd combination of red baseball cap and glasses.
Gianopulos was about to put a close to the presentation when police sirens and lights started going off throughout The Colosseum and two police officers with megaphones came down the aisles to let him know that he forgot something. But these weren’t real police officers. Instead it was Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans Jr., who stars in the Luke Greenfield-directed comedy Let’s Be Cops (Aug 13), about two guys who dress up as police officers for a costume party and once they realize how many people think they really are cops, start taking advantage of that. They then rolled the recent Red Band trailer, which went over pretty well with the audience.
Gianopulos also mentioned a few other movies opening later this year with no footage to share but some of the first actual images, including the Guillermo del Toro-produced Book of Life (Oct. 17), featuring the voices of Channing Tatum, Zoe Saldana, Christina Applegate and Diego Luna. DreamWorks Animation’s Home (Nov. 26) features Jim Parsons as an alien named OH with Rihanna voicing Tip, a young girl who helps him stave off an invasion from OH’s race, led by Captain Smek, voiced by Steve Martin. Jennifer Lopez provides the voice for Tip’s Mom.
Likewise, there was no new footage to show for either Ridley Scott’s biblical epic Exodus: Gods and Kings (Dec. 12) or Shawn Levy’s Night at the Museum 3 (Dec. 19), only a few new pictures from each, but it definitely looks like the studio has more in store for moviegoers beyond the summer.
There’s just one more studio presentation to go here at CinemaCon and it’s Warner Bros.’ “The Big Picture,” which always proves to be quite massive with lots of stars on hand, so look for our recap write-up of that sometime later tonight.