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From the Will Ferrell comedy Holmes & Watson to its Marvel co-production Venom, Sony had plenty of recognizable names to tout at the CinemaCon exhibitors’ convention Monday night in Las Vegas, but it also wanted to emphasize the diversity of talent and stories on display in its upcoming slate of movies.
“Superfly is timeless,” said Director X, known for the videos he has directed for stars like Drake, Jay-Z and Kanye West, as he introduced his remake of the 1972 blaxploitation film Super Fly, which opens June 15. “It is the definition of cool. It is about the fashion, cars, hair and music. While the location has changed, moving from Harlem, N.Y., to Los Angeles, one thing has remained: the “hustle.” The film stars Jason Mitchell, Lex Scott Davis and Trevor Jackson, who took the stage to help introduce a clip that showcased Future’s soundtrack.
Director Catherine Hardwicke debuted her upcoming thriller Miss Bala, scheduled to be released Jan. 25, which she emphasized stars a successful Latino actress, Gina Rodriguez. The actress, who appeared with co-stars Anthony Mackie and Ismael Cruz Cordova, called their project “the ultimate female empowerment film,” about an “ordinary woman who becomes extraordinary.”
Miss Bala, a remake of the 2009 film of the same name that was Mexico’s foreign language film Oscar entry, doesn’t just have a diverse cast, but also a diverse crew. Hardwicke reported that the film was shot in Mexico and that 95 percent of the crew was Mexican.
“You have seen already the diversity of the product and the diversity of the audience that we aim at,” said Sony motion picture group chairman Tom Rothman, as he took the stage to debut the studio’s upcoming releases, like Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, which stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt.
He added, “We are not all superheroes all the time. But make no mistake — we are in the global franchise business. We are building on Sony’s biggest year in over a decade.”
He then further trumpeted the theme of diversity, introducing the animated feature Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, which hits theaters in December. Rothman continued, “Phil Lord and Chris Miller have created a breakthrough in animation. Fans have clamored for this young hero of color to have his own film and these two guys figured out how to do it,” said Rothman, introducing the duo, who developed the project and served as executive producers.
“He is half Puerto Rican and half African American. He is the product of a happy and alive family,” said Miller of the movie’s hero, Miles Morales, who takes on the identity of Spider-Man.
“I’m not the only kid who imagined himself being Spider-Man, the most beloved superhero of all time,” said Shameik Moore, who voices Miles. “But as Stan Lee said, it’s really true that anyone can wear the mask.”
Antoine Fuqua debuted some Equalizer 2 footage that saw Denzel Washington fighting thugs on a Turkish train, in a well-designed apartment and in a moving sedan, all set to Kendrick Lamar’s “Backseat Freestyle.” Rothman made a point of announcing it as the first time Washington has done a sequel to one of his films.
Bringing out Claire Foy, who stars as computer hacker Lisbeth Salander in the upcoming The Girl in the Spider’s Web, Rothman exclaimed, “Lisbeth Salander makes Wonder Woman looks like a Powder Puff Girl.”
Sony also previewed its family offerings including the Goosebumps sequel, with a new title, Haunted Halloween; and Sony Pictures Animation’s Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation, with new footage that saw Dracula and his family taking a vacation to the Bermuda Triangle for a cruise manned by anthropomorphic sardines.
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Lisa Marie Presley