Cruise in, toons out as Cinema Expo wraps

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German Defense Ministry qualifies stance on filming of Cruise's "Valkyrie"

AMSTERDAM -- The curtains fell on Cinema Expo International on Thursday amid a smattering of popping flashbulbs for the arrival of Tom Cruise, a 3-D presentation of the last part of "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" and a slick showreel presentation from Universal Pictures International.

Cruise and producing partner Paula Wagner, on hand to talk up the new look United Artists, landed at Cine Expo for an early evening event hosted by 20th Century Fox.

The star-turned-studio co-owner was introduced by Wagner to assure the audience he is aiming "to keep the traditions of UA alive."

Cruise talked about the first two projects from the label, Robert Redford's "Lions for Lambs" and "Valkyrie," the World War II thriller at the center of a media firestorm stemming from Germany's purported reticence to allow filming there because of the star's links with the Church of Scientology.

He made no reference to the recent uproar, focusing strictly on the film itself. "(It) made my hands sweat," he said of the first time he read the "Valkyrie" script.

Wagner thanked UA's international distribution partner Fox and also name-checked MGM and its CEO, Harry Sloan, for partnering on the duo's vision at UA.

The final day kicked off with an impressive showreel from Universal Pictures International. UPI president David Kosse introduced the reel before handing the baton to UPI executive vp international distribution Duncan Clark.

The event featured exclusive extended footage from the Ridley Scott-directed "American Gangster," starring Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe.

The footage from the film, which is set in 1970s New York, drew a round of applause, while other well-received footage included excerpts from "Elizabeth: The Golden Age," starring Cate Blanchett and Clive Owen.

Other crowd-pleasers included "The Bourne Ultimatum" and "The Kingdom," while Universal also whetted exhibitor appetites for the movie version of stage musical "Mamma Mia!" and the return of "Hellboy," directed once again by Guillermo del Toro.

"That reel really smacked of quality and high-end acting talent," one exhibitor said after the show. "Really impressive lineup, and everything looked sumptuous."

Industryites were overjoyed with the absence of an animation title from the reel after four days of being bombarded by toon after toon from the other studios.

Following a Universal-hosted beach lunch that saw the sun come out and finally allow delegates to schmooze outside the cavernous RAI conference venue, attendees had the option of seeing a "Harry Potter" 3-D presentation or watching the entire movie in the main auditorium in 2-D.

The closing gala dinner played host to both the Nielsen EDI Gold Reel awards and Cinema Expo International's trio of awards.

International Distributor of the Year went to Fox International's outgoing Christian Grass, who is joining Universal Pictures International in a few weeks.

Kitag Cinema Group chief Philippe Taschler took home the evening's International Exhibitor award and Anamaria Marinca brought glamour to the proceedings as she collected the Cinema Expo Award of Excellence in Acting for her turn in Cannes Palme d'Or winner "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days."

The show closed Thursday evening with a sneak peek at extended footage from "U2 3D" and other upcoming 3-D-versioned movies and a party.

Cinema Expo International is produced by the Nielsen Film Group, a division of Nielsen Business Media, parent company of The Hollywood Reporter.
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