Sony Pictures has a number of power brands returning to their lineup in the next few years but during their presentation, they emphasized their commitment to originality and new and innovative storytelling. They kicked off their CinemaCon 2016 presentation with a teaser of one such film from the visionary director Ang Lee titled Billy Lynn’s Long Half Walk. The teaser gave us a glimpse into a film about an American soldier returning home from Iraq and his adjustment back into normal life and being celebrated as a hero for what he considers to be the worst days of his life. The teaser was powerfully emotional, a signature of Ang Lee’s filmmaking style.
The second film in their presentation lineup had two very special guests come out on stage to talk about it; Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawerence. The film, Passengers, is a space thriller that takes place on a ship traveling to a far off colony 130 years away from Earth. During the trip, two people (Pratt and Lawrence) wake up from their cryogenic sleep 90 years too early and must deal with the struggles of isolation for the rest of their lives. On stage Pratt and Lawrence’s bantered and joked with the crowd and the chemistry between them was undeniable and was a high point during the presentation.
The divisions of Sony Pictures including Tristar, Affirm Films, Sony Animation, Screen Gems, and Columbia were all represented during the show and bring a broad and eclectic lineup of films for the coming years. Tristar was up first which gave us a preview reel of films that they are currently bringing to the table. The most exciting of these films is Trainspotting 2, directed by Danny Boyle and includes the complete original cast including Ewan Mcgregor, Robert Carlyle, Kelly MacDonald, Johnny Miller, and many more. Another action packed film on their slate is Baby Driver starring Jamie Fox and John Hamm, an action-comedy crime film hitting theaters in March of 2017. The last film they showcased from Tristar is Money Monster, releasing May 13th of this year and directed by Jodi Foster and stars George Clooney and Julie Roberts. This intense drama centers around a disgruntled man who holds a Wall Street TV personality and his produce hostage on live TV. A high-stakes film with an all-star cast is sure to be a contender for the awards season next year.
After Tristar’s presentation Sony discussed their budding studio division Affirm Films, a faith-based production company that focuses on films with a higher message. Their biggest project on the dock is in collaboration with Sony Animation Studios currently known as an untitled Nativity Movie. The movie will focus on a donkey’s point of view during the nativity of Jesus and show the unsung heroes of the very first Christmas. Moving into the next presentation was Sony Animations who unveiled their line-up of CG films for the next few years the next installments into the Smurf franchise as well as Hotel Transylvania. Smurfs: Lost Village is branching into new territory as is will be a fully CG film with no live action cross over as in previous films. Hotel Transylvania 3 will be another high energy hilarious animation that takes the main characters all across the globe. Sony Animations is also debuting two original films as well, the first titled Emoji Movie takes place in the secret digital world of emojis and phone apps. Their second film is the highly anticipated all animated Spider-Man film which they couldn’t reveal very much details on since it is still in the early stages of production.
Next up on Sony’s division line up was Screen Gems and their preview reel for new films geared toward the horror and thriller genres. Their first trailer opened with a satirical commercial for the Umbrella corporation and their eco-friendly products which led into an action-packed glimpse into Resident Evil: The Final Chapter. The follow-up dove right into an unsettling teaser for Keep Watching, a horror film that blurs the line between reality and asks its viewers whether they could handle the content and continue watching. The next film on their reel was called When the Bough Breaks, a seductive thriller where a surrogate mother becomes obsessive and dangerous towards the unsuspecting soon to be parents. This film was followed up by the action horror franchise, Underworld with their fifth installment Underworld: Blood Wars. The Lycan army has grown too powerful and as the elite vampire clans are under attack, the key to ending the war lies within Selene’s blood. The final film in Screen Gems reel was an unnerving dive into psychological horror. Don’t Breathe is a film about a group of young thugs who try to rob a blind man’s house only to discover that he is not as disabled as they thought. As they try to escape his malicious clutches they wander through a maze of horror and blindness as the old man levels the playing field. Chilling and claustrophobic, this horror thriller may just have you jumping out of your seats.
The final Division of Sony Pictures, Columbia Pictures presented and lightened the mood as they announced the upcoming films that are in the early stages of production. The first is The Dark Tower, a cinematic take on the best-selling novel series by Stephen King. The next is a natural thriller called The Shallows the centers around a female surfer who is attacked by sharks and is trapped on a small reef 100 yards from shore. While the first two films were still darker in tone, the third film, Angry Birds livened up the crowd and had us all laughing at the crazy antics of these fine feathered friends. Another CG comedy coming to theaters soon is Sausage Party, but unlike Angry Birds, this is for adults only. Sausage Party focuses on the grocery store foods we eat as they discover the horrific fate that awaits them. To get the crowd pumped up the next film featured at the presentation was introduced by Chris Pratt and Antoine Fuqua, the director, and star of the remake of The Magnificent Seven. This action-packed western starring Denzel Washington alongside Pratt and a slew of other talented male actors pumps life back into the Western genre unlike any other film before. A few final films mentioned in the works was The Equalizer 2, Zombieland 2, Insidious 3, Flatliners, The Girl Who Played with Fire, Peter Rabbit, Rock That Body, Robotech, Jumanji, a remake of Blade Runner, Barbie the Movie, Bad Boys III, and MIB 23, a crossover of the two successful franchises, Men in Black and 21 Jumpstreet.
The two final highlights of the Columbia Pictures presentation was the extended footage and special appearances by the stars and director of the new Ghostbusters film. Paul Feig, Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones came on stage and talked briefly about their own personal experiences with ghosts and why they signed on to the project. The exclusive footage was a scene where they have their first encounter with a ghost followed by an extended trailer with new story lines and jokes thrown in. It was simply incredible to see the new footage and the scene had me rolling in my seat.
The final big surprise of the night was the announcement of the new Spider-Man film called Spider-Man: Homecoming. The star of the film, Tom Holland was currently attending the world première of Captain America: Civil War, however, Sony was able to fly him into Vegas for a special onstage appearance. Tom Holland is a new face to the iconic superhero but judging from his onstage appearance and his charm I can’t think of a more fitting actor to fill Peter Parker’s shoes. Sony and it’s divisions have grown into a larger than life production studio that is not afraid to take risks as well as continue franchises that audiences love. With their overwhelming number of new films coming soon, Sony will no doubt be a contender for top box office sales for 2016.
Laurel Way is a writer for film, television, websites, and blogs. She is based in Phoenix, Arizona in the U.S., and has two fat cats and a loving husband. Laurel is a geek to her core and loves all things within horror, sci-fi/fantasy, and more. When she is not writing films, she is watching them, and her go-to movie snack is popcorn and Milkduds.