CineEurope Wrap: 'Pacific Rim' Tepid; 'Elysium,' 'We're the Millers' Strong
UPDATED: Highlights of this year's convention include Snoop Dogg's "Turbo" concert, footage of WikiLeaks drama "The Fifth Estate" and a first glimpse of Darren Aronofsky's biblical epic "Noah."
BARCELONA -- This year's edition of CineEurope probably had more highs than lows, although a number of European exhibitors urged Hollywood to turn out a more diverse slate, pointing to the large number of action-packed tentpoles that are dominating the studios' shrinking slates.
"We need more estrogen and less testosterone," said Eddy Duquenne, CEO of Kinepolis Group, a Belgium-based circuit.
One upcoming summer tentpole that provoked a tepid response was Guillermo del Toro's monster-robot mashup Pacific Rim. Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros. partnered on the $180 million–plus film, which comes out in July. (Legendary took the lead on the movie, with WB paying for 25 percent of the budget.)
After seeing Pacific Rim, theater owners in Europe said they are worried that the 3D post-apocalyptic tentpole may only appeal to younger males. According to prerelease tracking, interest in the U.S. is equally as soft, although Warner has three weeks left in which to wage an aggressive marketing blitz.
Testosterone-packed or not, one upcoming 2013 summer tentpole drawing keen interest was Sony's Elysium, from District 9 director Neill Blomkamp and starring Matt Damon.
Hollywood studios use CineEurope to generate interest for their upcoming movies among European exhibitors, whose countries contribute greatly to the box office bottom line. Much as they do at CinemaCon -- the annual convention of U.S. theater owners -- studios showing exclusive footage fly in talent, play videotaped messages from stars and directors or, in some cases, screen full movies.
Among the other movies screened in their entirety, a big winner was New Line and Warner Bros.' R-rated August comedy We're the Millers, starring Jennifer Aniston and Jason Sudeikis.
Paramount's Brad Pitt zombie epic World War Z -- which is already doing big business in North America -- was also a crowd pleaser. Box office observers believe the tentpole will do big business overseas.
And most were impressed by Disney's big-gamble summer film The Lone Ranger, which screened in full on Thursday, June 27, giving foreign theater owners their first glimpse of Gore Verbinski's take on the classic Western story that stars Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer.
"I could see the dollar signs in exhibitors' eyes," UNIC president Phil Clapp said during the final luncheon banquet following the screening. "This movie is going to be huge."
Several other theater owners, however, cautioned that the film has more violence than Disney's blockbuster family franchise Pirates of the Caribbean, also teaming Verbinski, Depp and producer Jerry Bruckheimer.
An aging population in much of Western Europe -- similar to the U.S. -- is resulting in fewer younger people going to the cinema, so adult-skewing fare touted during the Barcelona convention was eagerly welcomed.
Clapp is among those concerned about a lack of diversity in terms of the product coming out of Hollywood. "We need to attract the broadest range of moviegoers. And we would have concerns if that isn't reflected in the studios' slates," he told The Hollywood Reporter.
DreamWorks and David Garrett's Mister Smith Entertainment showed extended, exclusive footage of director Bill Condon's WikiLeaks drama The Fifth Estate, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Julian Assange. The presentation drew an all-around strong response.
Universal promoted two adult dramas that went over well; Richard Curtis' About Time, starring Rachel McAdams and Domhnall Gleeson, and Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street, starring Leonardo DiCaprio.
Twentieth Century Fox upped the ante by bringing in director Ridley Scott and Javier Bardem to introduce never-before-seen footage of their upcoming adult thriller The Counselor, also starring Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Cameron Diaz and Penelope Cruz. Ben Stiller later took the stage to talk about The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, another favorite adult-skewing project of the week, as was footage from George Clooney's The Monuments Men.
Tom Hanks had two upcoming adult drams promoted at CineEurope -- Sony's Somali pirate thriller Captain Phillips and Disney's Saving Mr. Banks, starring the actor as Walt Disney.
Paramount shared exclusive shots of Darren Aronofsky's biblical tentpole Noah, starring Russell Crowe.
Universal's upcoming animated tentpole Despicable Me 2 was a CineEurope hit, while DreamWorks Animation's Turbo also went over well. Exhibitors were more mixed when it came to Disney's Planes, a spinoff of the Cars franchise, saying it could skew very young.
DreamWorks Animation and Fox livened up the convention with a lengthy Snoop Dogg concert promoting Turbo (the iconic rapper voices a laid-back snail named Smooth Move in the film). Even Stiller couldn't stop snapping pictures.