CineEurope 2012: Warner Bros. Touts ‘The Hobbit,' ‘Great Gatsby’

"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey"

Jackson's two-part "Hobbit" is costing $500 million-plus; shooting in 48 frames added millions to the budget.

Universal’s “Ted” got a surprise screening, with director Seth MacFarlane joking in a videotaped message to the audience that "we set fire to your cars in the parking lot.”

BARCELONA, Spain -- Filmmaker Baz Luhrmann reminded CineEurope showgoers Here Wednesday that he came from theater owning stock - his family owned a cinema in Sydney - via a special video message.

Luhrmann said his heritage meant he knew how important it was for him to allow the European theater owners and operators in the audience a chance to see extended and "very raw" footage of his upcoming 3D extravaganza The Great Gatsby.

The filmmaker would have been pleased with the enthusiastic response the footage got from the packed auditorium as it unspooled as part of Warner Bros. International's showcase. It is set to hit international theaters starting in December as one of two big Warner Bros. holiday season releases.

Warner Bros Pictures International Distribution president Veronika Kwan Vanderberg, formerly Kwan Rubinek, a regular at the European exhibition show, also wowed with Peter Jackson's The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, due to roll out in 3D across the world later this year.

Kwan Vanderberg said the Warner Bros., New Line Cinemas and MGM backed project will be released in two parts with part two, The Hobbit: There And Back Again, set for a 2013 holiday season rollout.

She allayed any exhibitor fears quickly by assuring the room that while the film will roll out in 3D at 24 frames per second, the movie will be made available in other frames-per-second configurations as well.

Kwan Vanderberg said that 2012 was "already tracking five percent ahead" of 2011 for the studio in terms of box office. Last year, the studio registered five films that erned more than $100 million at the box office and was the number one studio across Europe, carving out $2.87 billion.

European exhibitors were also treated to extended footage from the Will Ferrell and Zack Galifianakis starrer The Campaign, directed by Jay Roach. Judging by the laughter in the auditorium, the U.S. comedy can cross European borders. And a videotaped message from the stars in character as wannabe senators Cam Brady and Marty Huggins also entertained the audience.

Brady (Ferrell) welcomed delegates to Barcelona, "the perfect place to sit in a dark, cold theater for hours with boring colleagues." Huggins encouraged showgoers to go and try a list of eats peculiar to Europeans, citing such oddities as a "chocolate dipped bagel".

Kwan Vanderberg also cited the studio's plans to increase the number of event films it makes each year.

Also on show was an extended trailer for the James Franco, Josh Brolin, Sean Penn and Emma Stone starrer Gangster Squad and the return of Clint Eastwood in front of the camera for a star turn in Trouble With The Curve, alongside Amy Adams and Justin Timberlake.

An extended trailer for Ben Affleck's Argo, in which he also stars, also played out to an enthusiastic response from the exhibitors here.

For 2013, Warner Bros. promised big laughs with The Hangover Part 3, and Christopher Nolan's scripted take on Superman with Zack Snyder directing Man of Steel in 3D had exhibitors pumped as well.

After the Warner Bros. showreel presentation, event organizer Robert Sunshine asked attendees to remain in their seats for a "special surprise Hollywood screening."

It meant a switch in studio, with Universal unspooling Seth MacFarlane's big screen debut Ted, starring a giant talking teddy and Mark Wahlberg. MacFarlane, via video tape, told the audience that there were two surprises. The first was his film being shown. The second, he grinned, was that "we set fire to your cars in the parking lot. So, enjoy."