The opening night of CinemaCon 2016 began with a bang and much fanfare as Paramount Pictures presented attendees with a peak at what audiences can expect from the studio in coming months and the year ahead.
After a heartfelt introduction from studio Vice Chairman Rob Moore, the evening began with a strong showing of support for the TMNT franchise and its upcoming installment, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows. Stars Megan Fox and Will Arnett took the stage for a highly appropriate (if ultimately very awkward) opening bit wherein Arnett feigned disinterest, entering while talking on his cellphone, and ultimately ending with a TMNT-branded pizza being delivered to an unsuspecting audience member. When we did finally get our eyes on the trailer, we were treated to an example of director Michael Bay at his best. While this movie will feature new baddies and some excellent additions to the cast, it’s clear from the trailer that this next chapter for the Turtles will see them face bigger odds, bigger stunts and some big questions about their future as a mutant-powered turtle team. Catch it in theaters starting June 3rd.
Next, introduced by the voice of Morgan Freeman (which appropriately had its own spotlight) Jack Huston took the stage to discuss the forthcoming remake, Ben-Hur. This story, set in the ancient Roman era, looks both epic and deeply personal. With death-defying chariot races and high paced fight scenes, Ben-Hur will certainly satisfy action lovers. But the intense plot about family, betrayal and redemption paired with Freeman anchoring the seasoned cast, are sure to provide an equally compelling emotional journey for those movie go-ers desiring more with their special effects. With a première date of August 19th, there’s plenty of time to catch the original before Ben-Hur makes its debut.
Coming in October, Paramount will present two films with starkly different tones. First, releasing on October 21, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back promises to be another exciting addition to the franchise. The sequel reunites star Tom Cruise and director Edward Zwick who previously collaborated on The Last Samurai. Taking Jack through D.C. and New Orleans, Never Go Back also adds Cobie Smulders, of How I Met Your Mother and Avengers fame as Danika, a member of the Army’s Military Police Corps and all-around badass. Promising more of the classic Americana-style adventure, Never Go Back seems sure to please fans of the franchise and new viewers alike.
Also in October, Paramount will bring us an addition to another franchise, though one that we haven’t seen action on in some time. Rings, the follow-up to the chilling Ring trilogy, brings back the familiar footage, phone calls and 7 day warning period we all know and love from the previous movies. However, Rings looks to be a highly modernized take on a franchise that began with a menacing VHS tape. The trailer combined both the fears of creepy-crawly ghosts and the more realistic fear of flying to leave the audience on edge and thoroughly spooked. Coming on October 28th, Rings will fit right into the Halloween season.
Presented by Paramount, though not premiering full trailers at CinemaCon, were the films Allied and Foster Florence Jenkins. Allied gives us a harrowing tale set in World War II and stars Brad Pitt. Florence Foster Jenkins, starring Meryl Streep, looks to be a bright, funny and touching movie based on true events with delightfully musical overtones. Additionally, the CinemaCon audience was treated to still shots from the upcoming Denzel Washington and Viola Davis collaboration, Fences, based on the award-winning play of the same title. While still very early in production, this will be one to watch for as Paramount releases trailers closer to the release date.
Most exciting to this writer was the trailer for the upcoming sci-fi flick Arrival. Based on another piece of award-winning source material, though this time a short story, Story of Your Life, on it’s surface, might appear to be another alien invasion movie. But from the trailer it was clear this film, led by Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner, will not only pit everyday characters against extraordinary situations but will deeply examine what makes us human. With it’s strong female lead and unique take on the genre, Arrival should be on the must-watch list for sci-fi fans and adventure lovers alike.
On the action side of adventure comes xXx: The Return of Xander Cage. Teased via video by the movies three stars, we weren’t able to see new footage from the film as it’s slated for an early 2017 release. But we can tell you that Vin Diesel himself said this might very well be the greatest cast ever assembled. While that might sound lofty, it is certainly not unjustified. xXx will unite Vin Diesel with Nina Dobrev and Donnie Yen, both megastars in their respective markets. The cast alone may be enough to motivate movie-goers, but we’ll definitely be seeing some major stunts and intense fight sequence to tease the film in the coming months.
Rounding out the presentation was the trailer for 2017’s Baywatch. Likely to be rated R, this new take on the Baywatch series looks fun, fresh and delightfully self-aware. If the energy between stars Alexandra Daddario, Priyanka Chopra, Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron and Kelly Rohrbach during their video intro to the hilarious trailer was any indication, the group has come together to make this an ensemble comedy to look forward to.
Toward the end of our evening with Paramount, the Showman of the Year award was presented. Simon Pegg took the stage to give a loving, heartfelt and side-splitting introduction to his longtime friend and colleague, J.J. Abrams, who graciously accepted the honor. On the tail of the Star Trek franchise, 10 Cloverfield Lane and, of course, the mega-blockbuster that is Star Wars: the Force Awakens, we are sure to see many more great things from Abrams in the future; a future only aided by the tremendous amount of support for him shown by Paramount and their partners.