Sony “didn’t screw up” at CinemaCon

The studio is releasing 23 movies in theaters in ’23, trying to mix, as chairman Tom Rothman put it, big IP, originals and an Apple epic.

Sony kicked off CinemaCon’s four days of studio previews with one hell of a mission statement: “We’re not in a rush here,” Sony Pictures Entertainment president Tom Rothman told a theater full of theater owners. It was bolstered by badass trailers for “The Equalizer 3” and “Kraven, the Hunter,” as well as the first footage of the R-rated Jennifer Lawrence comedy “No Hard Feelings.”

Rothman wasn’t the only one who flew past PG-13 on Monday. Shots from the latest “Equalizer” and “Kraven,” Sony’s first R-rated Marvel movie, took the beating (and Aaron Taylor-Johnson got on the F-bomb train early), and the J. Law comedy was no slouch. but (very well received) sex jokes. It’s clear that Sony’s message is about boldness.

Still not sold? The studio launched the entire program with Will Smith (and Martin Lawrence), which is certainly a good choice. The “King Richard” best actor winner, who has since been kicked out of the Academy for slapping Chris Rock, appeared in a trailer to promote “Bad Boys 4,” which is currently filming. But above all else, Sony Pictures Entertainment president Josh Greenstein said the real reason they should be opening CinemaCon is because they’re delivering a whopping 23 films in the 2023 calendar year.

The bundle includes everything from tentpole IPs like “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse,” PlayStation’s “Gran Turismo” and the trailer for the sequel to “Ghostbusters: Afterlife,” but original properties like as well as the GameStop stock film “Dumb” Money.” The presentation ended with the first scene of a film that is theirs, but will be promoted with a “strong” theatrical window, Apple’s Napoleon, directed by Ridley Scott and starring Joaquin Phoenix.

The first look at the film showed the sheer scope and brutality of a sweeping battle sequence on a frozen battlefield as Napoleon the Phoenix sent an army of Russians to their deaths in icy water. The film is one of two Apple films this year, following Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon,” to hit theaters before appearing on Apple TV+. It’s the foundation of what could be a big push for Apple to commit to movie theaters. “Napoleon” opens in theaters worldwide on Nov. 22 before debuting on Apple TV+ at an as-yet-undisclosed date.

But Rothman took his dedication to the movie industry a step further when he said that it wasn’t them, but the “punditocracy that pissed off his business,” to anyone—namely, us in the media—who doubted its survival. exhibition. “We were confident that films in theaters would not only flourish but triumph,” he said.

So Rothman takes a risk (beyond his language). There’s also “The Machine” with Bert Kreischer and Mark Hamill.

Rothman also added that he still believes in making movies with movie stars, even though the data suggests that movie stars don’t matter as much. “I really hope our competitors believe this shit,” Rothman said. “I’m here to say that real movie stars are more important than ever…streaming doesn’t create movie stars, only worldwide blockbusters.”

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

“Spider-Man: Through the Spider-Verse”

Sony/screenshot

One sure bet is Spider-Man: Through the Spider-Verse. We’ve been seeing footage of this film since last year’s CinemaCon, but it was very much ‘work in progress’ material. It’s a rough look for more casual fans, but it’s also catnip for animation fans who want to see how the sausage is made. But with the film soon to be released on June 2, the latest trailer looked much sharper. Moreover, another 14 minutes were shown and this time it was “mostly complete”.

Then there was the first trailer for Gran Turismo. And while Sony PlayStation Studios is riding a victory lap after HBO’s “The Last of Us,” they still have a lot to prove on the theatrical side. But with “Gran Turismo” they are making real laps on the racing circuit and are only the second PlayStation game to hit the big screen after “Uncharted”. And while the first look at “Gran Turismo” was shown at CES back in January, the actual first trailer was reserved for CinemaCon.

“Gran Turismo” is directed by Neill Blomkamp (“District 9”) and is both inspired by the video game and based on the true story of Jann Mardenborough, a teenage gamer who became a professional racing driver after winning numerous Nissan races. to his playing skills. The film stars Archie Madekwe as Mardenborough alongside Orlando Bloom and David Harbour, and will be released by Sony on August 11.

The trailer gave a deeper look at Harbour’s character, who plays a coach who says this isn’t some video game, “this is real” and that if they put them behind a real car, he’ll “tear them to shreds.” You’re right. Beyond the limitations of the PlayStation, car racing comes with high risks. Rothman has thoughts on the broader topic as it applies to his business.

“The greater risk than originality,” he said, “is boring the audience to death.” Well, Tom, your turn at CinemaCon wasn’t fucking boring for us.

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