CinemaCon: Warner Bros. Teases 'Jersey Boys,' Final 'Hobbit'; 'Godzilla' Wows

5:09 PM PST 03/27/2014 by Rebecca Ford

UPDATED: Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. CEO Kevin Tsujihara, in his first appearance at the convention, said that as other studios produce fewer movies, "we think that is a great opportunity for us to expand our footprint with a strong and balanced slate anchored by key franchises."

LAS VEGAS -- Warner Bros. wrapped up the final day of CinemaCon with a star-studded presentation featuring Johnny Depp, Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore, Melissa McCarthy, Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis. While many of the trailers shown during the Thursday presentation were previously released, there was new footage from Jersey Boys, Godzilla, If I Stay and a very brief glimpse at Peter Jackson's final Hobbit film, There and Back Again.

When Eastwood took the stage to talk about his musical film Jersey Boys, he received the first standing ovation of the convention. "Nine years ago, it started in La Jolla, California, as a small get-together of actors portraying this play that they never thought would be anything," he said of his film based on the Broadway musical, which follows the rise of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.

The first footage for the film was packed with big musical numbers and, interestingly, the characters break the fourth wall by talking directly to the cameras. The story follows the group as they appear on American Bandstand and perform such familiar hits as "Sherry" and "Who Loves You."

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Kevin Tsujihara made his first appearance at the Las Vegas conference under his title of Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. CEO.

"The connection to a movie is so much stronger when you see it in a theater," he said to the audience of theater owners gathered in Las Vegas.

"Warner Bros. is committed to producing the very best in filmed entertainment. As you are painfully aware, other studios are shifting their emphasis away from film and plan to produce fewer movies. But we think that is a great opportunity for us to expand our footprint with a strong and balanced slate anchored by key franchises," said Tsujihara, noting that The Lego Movie and the film adaptation of J.K. Rowling's book Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them will spawn new series.

Dan Fellman, president of domestic distribution, and Veronika Kwan Vandenberg, president of international distribution, guided the audience through Warner Bros.' past year, and looked ahead to the coming summer and rest of 2014.

Depp, Freeman and director Wally Pfister, who were sitting in the audience -- as many of the stars were -- took the stage to speak about Transcendence, opening April 18.

Pfister, a longtime cinematographer who works with Christopher Nolan, described the premise as: "What if we could upload a human mind into a computer?" A previously released trailer was also shown.

Tatum and Kunis, stars of the The Wachowskis' Jupiter Ascending (a Village Roadshow and Warner Bros. film), also took the stage to big applause.

"He is the ultimate warrior, but she becomes quite a badass herself," said Kunis of her co-star and her character. The recently released trailer was also shown.

Director Gareth Edward was on hand to tout Legendary's Godzilla. "We literally just finished the movie yesterday," he said. "Godzilla apologizes that he couldn't be here today to present the film. He's in a play on Broadway."

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New footage for the sci-fi action film was shown, and was a big hit with the crowd. It included a scene of what looks like a giant tsunami hitting Hawaii (but turns out to be Godzilla) and some strong emotional scenes from Bryan Cranston, whose character loses his wife to a nuclear accident early in the film.

Right after the footage, Sandler and Barrymore took the stage to promote Blended.

"Never mind Blended -- how about that f---ing Godzilla!" said Sandler when he took the stage. The duo then turned to talking about their own film.

"He asked if I would love to go to Africa and pretend to fall in love with him all over again, which is the easiest thing to do," said Barrymore, who is pregnant, of her co-star Sandler. "I would be doing cartwheels right now, but I'm really, really pregnant and that would be awkward." A trailer for the film showed Sandler and Barrymore as single parents whose families are stuck together on a trip to Africa.

While much of the footage shown during the presentation had already been released online, Warner Bros. did show some other new footage, include a long look at If I Stay.

If I Stay director R.J. Cutler spoke about the Chloe Grace Moretz-starring YA adaptation. "She will capture your heart and break it in the same instant," said Cutler of his star.

The trailer showed Moretz's character, a cello player, falling for a boy in high school. Planning to attend Juilliard, the girl is encouraged by her family to stay focused on her goals. But a car accident on a snowy road changes everything. The girl's family dies, and the girl is hospitalized. She seems to leave her body, and is tasked with deciding if she'll die or fight to return to life.

Village Roadshow and Warner Bros.' Into the Storm stars Richard Armitage and Sarah Wayne Callies also took the stage to present a trailer for their film, along with director Steven Quale.

"When I made this movie, I said to myself, 'I need to create the realism of the actual story, and not make a "Hollywood movie," ' " he said.

"The power of nature is both terrifying and awe-inspiring, but what is more inspiring than that is the power of human nature," Armitage said.

Melissa McCarthy and her husband, director Ben Falcone, introduced upcoming comedy Tammy.

"When I heard that Melissa McCarthy was interested in playing the lead, I was thrilled," he said.

"I think they know that we're married," McCarthy, who also wrote the script, joked. "For the first time ever, I can now say I'm sleeping with the director." McCarthy stars as a sloppy fast-food restaurant worker who gets fired and goes on a roadtrip with her grandmother.

After a long look at the summer, the Warner Bros. panel focused on footage from post-summer films. Much of the footage was new, including scenes from This Is Where I Leave You, Dolphin Tale 2, The Judge and Horrible Bosses 2.

The presentation wrapped up with a look at Peter Jackson's Hobbit trilogy, which will wrap up with the final film in December. Jackson recorded a special message for the crowd, and brief glimpses were given of the final film.

"The time is upon us when all must choose what side we're on," said Gandalf (Ian McKellen) in the final moments of the video.

Email: Rebecca.Ford@THR.com
Twitter: @Beccamford

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