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BARCELONA — Twentieth Century Fox International co-presidents Paul Hanneman and Tomas Jegeus pulled out all the stops for their presentation at CineEurope, beginning with a full-piece orchestra and followed by personal appearances from Ben Stiller, Ridley Scott, Javier Bardem and animation director Carlos Saldanha.
There also were videotaped messages from Bryan Singer and Hugh Jackman from the set of X-Men: Days of Future Past in Vancouver and from George Clooney and producing partner Grant Heslov from the set of The Monuments Men in Germany.
Jegeus and Hanneman treated international theater owners, who are gathered in Barcelona this week for their annual convention, to exclusive footage from a number of high-profile titles, including Monuments Men, Scott’s The Counselor, Wes Anderson‘s The Grand Budapest Hotel, Walking With Dinosaurs, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, The Book Thief, from Downton Abbey director Brian Percival, and Saldanha’s Rio 2.
The session began with Scott taking the stage to debut the international trailer for The Counselor and show footage. The 2013 fall film, about a lawyer who takes up with the wrong crowd, stars Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Bardem, Cameron Diaz and Penelope Cruz.
“When Cormac McCarthy‘s script came through my letter box, it was like a time bomb going off. It has to be one of the best screenplays I have ever read,” Scott said. “I called Cormac and said I had to meet him right away.”
Scott next brought Bardem — Spain’s biggest movie star — onstage. The director and his actor, who lives with a very-pregnant Cruz in Madrid, revealed that the inspiration for Bardem’s hair style in The Counselor was producer Brian Grazer‘s famous mane.
“I called him [Grazer] and said, ‘He’s going to look like you,'” Scott said.
Bardem said working with Ridley was a “joy” and that McCarthy’s words “come to you with such powerful movement…it’s like a punch in the stomach. (In 2008, Bardem won the Oscar for best supporting actor for No Country for Old Men, adapted by Joel and Ethan Coen from McCarthy’s novel.)
Fox showed footage of The Other Woman, Diaz’ next film after The Counselor. Diaz is shooting the movie in New York, but greeted CineEurope with a videotaped message.
The two-hour event, by far the jazziest of any Hollywood studio presentation this week, culminated with Stiller taking the stage to talk about his December 2013 event pic The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, which he directed and stars in opposite Kristen Wiig.
Extended footage of the movie impressed foreign exhibitors, much as it did when shown in April at CinemaCon, sparking intense speculation that Mitty will be an awards contender (CinemaCon is the annual convention of U.S. theater owners).
CineEurope attendees immediately warmed to Stiller, clapping loudly when he proclaimed that there are no “robots” in his movie (the day before, Warner Bros. screened Guillermo del Toro‘s robot-monster mashup Pacific Rim at CineEurope to a mixed response).
The evening was punctuated by levity all the way around.
Clooney and Heslov — the longtime producing duo behind Oscar-winning film Argo — said in their videotaped message that all the actors in Monuments Men, including Matt Damon, Bob Balaban, Bill Murray and Cate Blanchett — worked for cheap. Clooney directs and stars in the film, which wraps this week and tells the story of a group of men who worked to retrieve art stolen by Hitler.
“The cheapest of them all was you,” Heslov quipped.
“But I do coffee commercials, so I’m fine,” Clooney responded, drawing a huge applause from the crowd at CineEurope.
Singer took a bit of a more serious approach in his videotaped message, offering a tour of part of the set of Days of Future Past, the most ambitious X-Men movie to date and featuring the casts from the first X-Men films and the 2011 origin pic X-Men: First Class.
“It takes place all over the world, including in Russia, China and Japan,” Singer told foreign theater owners. “So there will more of an international flair than the other films.”
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