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CineEurope 2012: Jeffrey Katzenberg and Hugh Jackman Preview 'Rise of the Guardians' Footage

Rise of the Gaurdians Screengrab - H 2012

Jeffrey Katzenberg and Hugh Jackman take the stage at the Barcelona confab, which also previewed footage of Tom Cruise’s "Jack Reacher" and Brad Pitt’s "World War Z."

BARCELONA, Spain -- Jeffrey Katzenberg taking the stage sporting a rainbow Afro wig as seen in Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted and the appearance of Hugh Jackman after DreamWorks Animation unspooled the first 42 minutes of Rise of the Guardians had European theater operators abuzz at CineEurope.

DreamWorks Animation founder and chief Katzenberg returned to CineEurope -- a confab aimed primarily at European exhibitors -- to unspool his sneak peak of the animated fantasy title, directed by Peter Ramsey (Monsters vs. Aliens) and featuring Jackman among the voice cast that includes Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin and Jude Law.

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Jackman, who voices the Easter Bunny in the movie, surprised the audience with his appearance and charmed the exhibitors by thanking them for putting his films in theaters.

"If it wasn't for you, I would have been hearing those dreaded words 'straight to DVD' a lot more in my career," he said.

The actor brought his two young children with him and noted they both gave footage "the thumbs up."

Enthused exhibitors greeted the footage with applause.

The Guardians presentation followed an equally well-received reel introduced by Anthony Marcoly, the newly installed president of Paramount Pictures International, who brought footage from a host of upcoming releases through the end of 2012 and into 2013.

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Applause frequently rang out in the massive and packed auditorium, which until a week ago didn't have seating, a stage or any sort of screen let alone a sound system, for several of Paramount's upcoming releases.

Euro exhibitors got a glimpse of the scale of World War Z, starring Brad Pitt, and were audibly wowed by footage from upcoming 3D movie Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away.

Paramount also trumpeted The Guilt Trip, starring Barbra Streisand and Seth Rogan, and showed two scenes from Jack Reacher, the action film starring Tom Cruise that, according to Marcoly, could become a franchise character for the studio based on thriller writer Lee Childs' character.

Marcoly, who joined Paramount "six short months ago" having previously headed Disney's International theatrical division, told The Hollywood Reporter the studio is aiming for big numbers in 2012-13 to follow its record-breaking global box-office year.

"With the domestic box-office static right now and DVD revenues shrinking, there is a big emphasis on what the theatrical box office internationally can deliver," Marcoly said.

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He pointed to growing revenue for markets such as Russia and India as being key to the studio's expansion plans.

Paramount and DreamWorks’ show reels and stage turns ended day one of CineEurope, which also offered delegates the first showcase for big indie distribution players that unspooled upcoming releases.

Lionsgate International (Step Up Revolution in 3D), eOne Films (The Sweeney), MK2 Distribution (A Monkey on My Shoulder), Momentum (Sinister), Les Films du Losange (Amour), Paramount Pictures Spain (The Adventures of Tadeo Jones in 3D) and a brace of Russian distribution product presentations from Karoprokat and Central Partnership were featured.

Day one also included the event's inaugural digital innovation prize, sponsored by cellular operating giant Orange. The web-based Dutch movie theater programming venture We Want Cinema took home the $7,000 cash prize.