Studios, stars roll out slates for exhibitors

Int'l distribution pitches made at Cinema Expo

AMSTERDAM -- Studios' international distribution executives played slate pitchmen at Cinema Expo on Tuesday, getting welcome help from some globe-trotting movie stars.

With the industry trend toward day-and-date worldwide releasing well advanced, European exhibitors got glimpses of previously unseen footage from several upcoming films. That's in stark contrast to the warmed-over domestic trailers once commonplace at this confab.

Fox showed extensive footage from Baz Luhrmann's romantic adventure "Australia," which the helmer explained by video he was still posting after a yearlong shoot Down Under.

Star appearances of the sort common at similar U.S. confabs are often in short supply at Cinema Expo. So it played well when Hugh Jackman, co-star of "Australia" along with Nicole Kidman, popped up to plug the holiday release.

"It was a once in a lifetime opportunity," Jackman said. "There wasn't a second that went by that Nicole and I didn't thank our lucky stars for being in this movie."

Keanu Reeves was on hand to introduce footage of "The Day the Earth Stood Still," an effects-laden remake of the 1951 sci-fi classic set to unspool worldwide Dec. 12.

Jennifer Aniston, Owen Wilson and their co-starring white Labrador retriever, along with director David Frankel ("The Devil Wears Prada"), set up scenes from their first-quarter comedy "Marley & Me."

Fox International co-presidents Paul Hanneman and Tomas Jegeus also trotted out "The Rocker" topliner Rainn Wilson, who asked exhibs if they enjoyed a morning screening of the summer laugher.

"How many of you thought it was the greatest movie you ever saw?" Wilson deadpanned, prompting at least a few in the audience to raise their hands.

Sony's international distribution president Mark Zucker began his presentation with the usual claim that the studio's upcoming releases represented one of its best slates ever. Expectations were whetted even more when exhibs were asked to cough up all cell phones and BlackBerrys before the first peek at Sony's "Quantum of Solace," the 22nd James Bond film.

Michael Wilson, the film's producer along with Barbara Broccoli, and latest Bond girl Olga Kurylenko were on hand to introduce 10 minutes of footage from the recently wrapped Daniel Craig starrer. With director Marc Forster ("The Kite Runner") now overseeing postproduction, the segment featured a temporary soundtrack, but the audience responded well to scenes from London, Italy and Bolivia. "Quantum" unspools in the U.K. in late October and the rest of the world the first weekend of November.

Sony also offered all-original clips from several other films, including the Steve Martin comedy "The Pink Panther 2"; "The International," a political thriller starring Clive Owen and Naomi Watts; and a remake of "The Taking of Pelham One Two Three," with Denzel Washington and John Travolta.

Paramount's slate presentation Monday featured new footage from year's end and 2009 titles, with Paramount Pictures International president Andrew Cripps noting the studio was the first distributor to surpass $1 billion in foreign coin this year. PPI exec vp Roger Pollock is set to receive international distributor of the year laurels Thursday, when Cinema Expo concludes with an awards banquet.

The Paramount execs showed a new one-minute clip of next year's "G.I. Joe," a big-screen rendering of the well-known action figure co-produced by Hasbro and directed by Stephen Sommers ("The Mummy"). No footage yet was available from the DreamWorks/Paramount action sequel "Transformers 2," but helmer Michael Bay provided a humorous video greeting.

Steven Spielberg, a producer on the "Transformers" franchise, welcomed confab attendees by video as he introduced "Eagle Eye," a fall thriller starring Shia LaBeouf on which Spielberg is an exec producer.

Sam Mendes also did his videotaped best to introduce a clip from his '09 literary adaptation "Revolutionary Road," which reunites Leonardo DiCaprio and Mendes' better-half Kate Winslet for the first time since "Titanic."

Warner Bros. and Disney were set to make slate presentations Wednesday.
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