By Phil Contrino
On Tuesday evening the Coliseum Theatre stage at Caesars Palace belonged to Disney.
The Mouse House made two major announcements: 1) They'll be moving forward with The Muppets 2 and 2) Jack White is going to be scoring The Lone Ranger.
Jason Segel has been quite vocal about not wanting to star in a Muppets sequel, but that's not stopping Disney from continuing to capitalize on the revitalized brand. The Muppets raked in $158.2 million worldwide.
The decision to let Jack White score The Lone Ranger give the project a much needed boost of cool—something that was desperately needed after the bad publicity generated by false starts on the production side.
The Disney showcase also included new footage from Wreck-It Ralph, Monsters University, The Odd Life of Timothy Green andOz: The Great and Powerful. Wreck-It Ralph and Monsters University went over particularly well with the crowd.
The presentation ended with the first 30 minutes of Brave. The Pixar flick should tap into the same audience that appreciated seeing strong female characters in The Help and The Hunger Games. Brave is definitely a force to reckoned with this summer.
LAS VEGAS - MPAA Chairman and CEO Senator Chris Dodd delivered remarks today at CinemaCon, the annual National Association of Theater Owners (NATO) convention in Las Vegas. Speaking at The Colosseum inside Caesar's Palace, Senator Dodd offered an optimistic perspective on what lies ahead for the film and television industry:
Traditionally, so called disruption innovations- radio, TV, the VCR- inspired fear among filmmakers and exhibitors...While that anxiety about change has at times marked our past, it is not how we approach the future. The film industry - home to some of the world's most inspiring visionaries and innovators - embraces the future, its innovations and its challenges.
In a 2012 outlook, Senator Dodd discussed a successful first quarter at the box office and highlighted some of the summer's upcoming blockbusters:
This year has already begun with a tremendous start: as of April 19 - the box office was up 17 percent over the same period last year. And we have an incredible slate coming up this summer, films that combine the best of what's old and what's new. In films like The Avengers, The Amazing Spider-Man, Battleship and GI Joe: Retaliation, our filmmakers will put your audio and video upgrades to good use, dazzling audiences with their use of technology.
Senator Dodd went on to preview other upcoming features, including The Great Gatsby and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, but also took time to underscore the importance of protecting creative content. He emphasized all parties, in both the creative and tech communities, must work together to find a shared solution:
We are a nation of ideas with an economy of creators and makers. But that cannot continue if creators and makers can't get paid for what they create and make - whether it's a movie or a smartphone app... I am committed to doing all I can to achieve a satisfactory resolution to the protection of intellectual property. But, more importantly, the leaders of the content industry are committed as well - and I am confident many in the tech community are similarly prepared to do their part as well.
For a complete copy of Senator Dodd's remarks as prepared for delivery, click here.
By Phil Contrino
Jeff Robinov, president of Warner Bros. Pictures Group, took the stage of The Coliseum Theatre on Tuesday morning to introduce footage from Warner Brothers' impressive 2012 slate.
Dark Shadows: Tim Burton made a brief introduction in which he discusses being obsessed with the Dark Shadows show as a kid. Burton then introduced Johnny Depp to rapturous applause. Depp said simply, "Have fun" right before the clip played. The audience reaction was strong, but not overly enthusiastic.
The Dark Knight Rises: Christopher Nolan took the stage to introduce a series of images and brief scene snippets from his highly-anticipated film. There was plenty of Bane and Anne Hathaway's Selina Kyle to keep Batman enthusiasts entranced. The audience reaction was overwhelmingly positive.
Rock of Ages: Director Adam Shankman won the crowd over by joking, "I want to be Christopher Nolan when I grow up." It was the perfect way to lighten the mood after the serious tone of Dark Knight Rises. The footage of Rock of Ages featured plenty of Tom Cruise's rendition of "Wanted: Dead or Alive." Attendees responded well.
The Campaign: Jay Roach introduced a rough trailer for this Will Ferrell/Zach Galifianakis vehicle. Following in the great tradition of The Hangover and Horrible Bosses, both of which brought the house down at past Vegas events, The Campaign was met with a very warm reception. Keep a close eye on this one.
The Great Gatsby: Any concerns about Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby being a bad fit for 3D were squashed by this incredibly impressive series of clips. Luhrmann introduced the footage via a recorded message.
The Hobbit: This extended look at Peter Jackson's new film will be picked apart for a while to come. Jackson introduced the footage via recorded message and he warned that 48-frames-per-second cinema takes some time to adjust to. Audience reactions were mixed at best. Like any new technology, a higher frame will certainly have its mix of champions and detractors.
By Phil Contrino
Sacha Baron Cohen stole the show during Paramount's reel presentation at CinemaCon on Monday evening.
Cohen appeared in character as The Dictator's General Aladeen, shocking those in attendance. As he made his way down the aisle of The Coliseum Theatre in Caesars Palace, Cohen asked one attendee, "How much for your daughter?"
Once on stage, Cohen made plenty of jokes aimed at Hollywood. "I thought I was the only dictator here, but then I found out Jeffrey Katzenberg is here as well," quipped Cohen. The best joke of the bit came at the expense of Disney. Cohen joked that if exhibitors didn't book his film he would ignite bombs under their seats before saying, "Trust me, there are bigger bombs than John Carter. Calm down, Disney. I'll employ all of you. I'll kill your executive. Wait, you already did." The last part referenced the recent firing of studio head Rich Ross.
Cohen is doing all he can to drum up publicity for The Dictator—but Paramount's decision to move the film from a May 11 release date to May 16 does not bode well. The actor was riding high after Borat until Brüno destroyed a lot of mainstream good will. It's also very likely that jokes about terrorism—of which The Dictator seems to have plenty—won't come across as funny to a lot of viewers.
The dozens of displays lined up in the halls of Caesars Palace make walking around during CinemaCon a treat for any film enthusiast. The convention focuses a lot of attention on the summer slate, and there's plenty of promotion for such high-profile releases as The Amazing Spider-Man, Total Recall and Ted. A handful of fall releases such as The Hobbit and Les Miserables also have a presence at the event.
Here are a few shots of some of this year's displays: