The evening started with the usual introduction by CinemaCon’s Managing Director Mitch Neuhauser and the not-so-usual announcement of CinemaCon’s first-ever poster designed by Zabrina Santiago, an employee of AMC. The artwork is an interesting new spin for a conference navigating how to handle the future of the quickly changing film landscape.
Speaking about the film landscape, after Neuhaser’s introductions and thank yous, Sony’s presentation began with a tongue-in-cheek trailer recap of their offerings from the last year while simultaneously tackling assumptions about the theater industry’s longevity. Next, Sony’s President Josh Greenstein further drove the point home that Sony believed in the cinematic experience.
An opinion that Director David Leitch echoed as he discussed the night’s first film presentation, Bullet Train, an adaptation of the Japanese novel Maria Beetle by Kōtarō Isaka. This film is sure to be a crowd-pleaser with a stacked cast including Brad Pitt, Brian Tyree Henry, Joey King, and many more, and an action-packed and hilarious preview.
Next up was a message from producer Reese Witherspoon as she introduced the trailer for Where the Crawdads Sing. Starring Daisy Edgar-Jones of Normal People fame, this film is a highly anticipated adaptation of the international bestseller by Delia Owens. As a fan of the book, the trailer reveal got my hopes up just a little bit. And the presentation continued to build from there.
What came next was a wonderful surprise. Gina Prince-Bythewood, writer-director of the upcoming The Woman King, presented CinemaCon’s first-ever CinemaCon Trailblazer of the Year Award to the incomparable Viola Davis. While accepting her award, Viola preached the importance of great stories and how she has built a career around trying to see those great stories for people who look like her, both as an actor and as a producer. With The Woman King, she was given that opportunity to tell the incredible true story of the Dahomey warriors, a real-life Dora Milaje. The footage looked terrific, and with a great cast, this will be high on people’s to-watch list.
And how do you follow Viola Davis? With the announcement of the first-ever Latiné lead of a Marvel film, El Muerto, and that lead is none other than international superstar Bad Bunny, whose first film role is the previously mentioned Bullet Train. While no footage was offered, we did get to see Bad Bunny, and we also got a confirmed release date of January 12, 2024.
After those two huge presentations, we were treated to the comic stylings of Phil Lord and Chris Miller as they discussed the highly anticipated sequel to their Oscar-winning Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse. With a record-breaking 1000 people working on the film with over 240 characters on screen across six universes (so far), Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is likely to be an even bigger hit than the original when it releases in June of 2023. In addition, the title for the third installment was announced, Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse, and it will be released around Easter 2024. The footage featured a look at the returning Gwen Stacy and Miles Morales and the introduction of some fun characters that comic fans will enjoy.
As the presentation was nearing its end, Sony showed a quick trailer of all the titles coming soon, including the films above and others like Lyle, Lyle Crocodile, Devotion, I Want to Dance with Somebody, and Kraven the Hunter. Other exciting news included an announcement that a new Ghostbusters sequel was coming and a third Venom movie was on the way as well. But they weren’t done yet. We were treated to the first look at George Tillman Jr.’s biographical film about two-time heavyweight champion Reverend George Foreman to end the night. And final words were left with the champ himself as he thanked the theater filled with exhibitors for continuing to showcase stories on the big screen.