Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn on Tuesday celebrated the company’s mammoth box-office run at CinemaCon in Las Vegas before teasing Disney’s upcoming slate, which included a look at the first footage from Tim Burton’s live-action Dumbo. The exec didn’t, however, take a gamble and disclose any details about what the proposed Disney-20th Century Fox film merger will look like.
Disney’s presentation came as the studio prepares to unleash Avengers: Infinity War around the globe this weekend, continuing the studio’s streak of box-office domination. The Marvel superhero mashup, coming as the Marvel Cinematic Universe celebrates its tenth anniversary, has a shot at scoring the top opening of all time domestically if it can eclipse Disney/Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens ($248 million). Globally, it could hit or surpass $500 million, one of the top starts of all time.
“Being there last night at the [Infinity War] premiere was almost an out-of-body experience,” said Horn. “There were 24 movie stars, and I was thinking to myself how complicated it is to coordinate all of their arrivals at the premiere, much less the Russo Brothers coordinating their performances.” He added, “This movie really delivers for us and for you.”
Horn knows his audience — whether its moviegoers or the theater owners gathered together in Las Vegas for their annual convention. “The Walt Disney Company is committed to the theatrical window, period,” said the exec, prompting a loud applause.
Tuesday’s event also was bittersweet, as it marked Dave Hollis’ final CinemaCon appearance as head of distribution at Disney. Hollis is leaving the studio to run his wife Rachel Hollis’ company, Chic Media, and relocate their family to Texas. Disney veteran Cathleen Taff is assuming Hollis’ job and, upon his departure at the end of the month, she will become the only woman to currently run theatrical distribution for a major Hollywood studio.
“We didn’t have to look far. She is smart and experienced and committed, and I am sure she will represent us as well as her predecessor,” Horn said.
“If you would have told me a few months ago that I would be standing on the same stage where Celine Dion performs, I wouldn’t have believed you,” joked Taff as she took the stage to introduce Disney’s massive slate of upcoming films. She began with Marvel selections Ant-Man and the Wasp and Captain Marvel, and then dove into the studio’s highly anticipated live-action adaptations — Mary Poppins, Christopher Robin and Aladdin, with footage from the later film debuting during the studio presentation.
And before introducing Dumbo, Taff offered up another quip: “Okay, let’s talk about the other elephant in the room — Dumbo.”
The presentation was capped off with a sequence from The Lion King that also screened at D23, as well as new footage from Solo: A Star Wars Story, which showed the first time Han met Lando.