The place for Hollywood insiders to be this week was not on the lot or a fancy restaurant in Beverly Hills. They weren’t in California at all. Instead, all eyes were on Las Vegas.
The biggest stars, directors and studios crowded into a high-tech theater at Caesars Palace, where they showed new trailers, behind-the-scenes footage and even some full-length films. Plus, the latest and greatest in sound and theater technology.
It’s a confab you might not be familiar with, called CinemaCon. Unlike, say, Comic-Con, movie fans are not invited. Instead, theater owners from around the world come to see everything from the latest projectors, new food items to sell alongside the popcorn, and of course, the movies themselves.
“In this day and age, a theater owner could watch a trailer back home. But this is a way to sort of make them feel special and give them attention,” said Pamela McClintock, senior film writer for the Hollywood Reporter, who was in Las Vegas covering the event.
That attention included big stars announcing big new projects. Vin Diesel paid homage to Paul Walker and announced that yes, there will be an eighth movie in the “Fast & Furious” franchise. Tom Cruise presented footage for the next “Mission: Impossible film.” But that wasn’t all.
He “talked about doing the stunt where he’s hanging off the side of the airplane, which you see in the trailer,” McClintock said. “They showed unedited footage and you could see the rope where we was hanging… It really was him.”
That sense of excitement is especially important in cultivating the ongoing relationship between filmmakers and theater owners, because exhibitors don’t make that much money on the movies themselves. Most of it comes from concessions: popcorn and those 4-gallon sodas.
Some of McClintock’s snack-worthy picks among the movies promoted at this year’s CinemaCon, beyond Tom Cruise hanging from a rope on the side of an airplane, include:
Jurassic World “seemed to really wow theater owners,” McClintock said.
The Avengers: Age of Ultron
Tomorrowland, “the Brad Bird movie with George Clooney was another big [one],” McClintock said.
And come the fall awards season, we’ll be looking ahead to Alejando Iñárritu’s next movie The Revenant, starring Leonardo DiCaprio; David O. Russell’s Joy; and Ridley Scott’s The Martian, starring Matt Damon.