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For four days at CinemaCon in Las Vegas, the studios trotted out big name stars, a few stunts and plenty of brand new footage to whet theater owners’ appetites for all the big summer blockbusters and fall awards contenders that will land in their venues in 2017.
Most of the new trailers showed promise, with fewer falling flat than have in recent years. And while the presentations were lighter on news than they have been in the past (at previous CinemaCons, James Cameron announced his Avatar sequels and big ticket films like the Fast & Furious franchise or Fifty Shades of Grey were dated), there was still a great deal of buzz about industry hot topics such as the theatrical window and streaming services, along with new technological advances that could change the business over the next several years.
Here, The Hollywood Reporter highlights the five biggest takeaways from this year’s CinemaCon:
1. The Windowing War Continues, Mostly Behind Closed Doors
Behind the scenes at the convention, studio execs and theater owners continued to discuss the possibility of shortening the exclusive theatrical window, an issue that has been a hot topic in the industry for the past year. However, only one studio executive spoke directly about being open to these changes while giving a presentation onstage. Sue Kroll, Warner Bros. president, worldwide marketing and distribution, told the audience at the Colosseum: “Where there is demand, somebody is going to step in and fill that void. We have to be innovative. Together, I believe, is the way to move towards a future that will be beneficial and profitable to all of us.”
Along with every other studio executive, the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) president and CEO Jon Fithian also did not have much to say about the ongoing talks. When asked about the issue during a press conference after his annual presentation, he said, “We’re not going to talk about it publicly, and our members aren’t going to talk about it publicly.” He said that the parties involved with the negotiations needed to meet behind closed doors to reach an agreement, but did add: “This issue is on everybody’s mind. Everyone wants to find a solution.”
2. Blockbusters (and The Rock) Rule
Dwayne Johnson was a fixture both onstage and onscreen, with The Rock on hand to introduce Paramount’s Baywatch (May 26) and the first footage ever seen of Sony’s Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (Dec. 22) — the latter of which earned an especially strong reaction for the reveal of its inventive premise, which sees The Rock and his co-stars play teens who have been transported into a videogame. Universal’s The Fate of the Furious (April 14) delivered a surprise screening that proved that eight films in the franchise shows no signs of a slowdown.
Theater owners were also assured there’d be movies year-round — not just during the summer season — with potential to deliver huge audiences. Kingsman: The Golden Circle (Sept. 29) shared a stylish, over-the-top trailer that earned Fox’s spy sequel some of the biggest applause of the convention. Blade Runner 2049 (Oct. 6) looked like the rare franchise sequel that could both deliver big crowds and awards season love. And Warner Bros.’ DC superhero team-up Justice League‘s (Nov. 17) banter-heavy new footage reassured the crowd that the film was addressing complaints that Zack Snyder’s 2016 film Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was too dour. Speaking of DC, Wonder Woman debuted its longest look yet, with a new back and forth between Chris Pine’s charming love interest Steve Trevor and Gal Gadot’s superhero, demonstrating there’s a strong character-driven element to the action-heavy movie.
In years past at CinemaCon, there were a few obvious lemons among the blockbusters, but this year, nothing fell particularly flat, other than perhaps Warner Bros. and Skydance’s troubled disaster movie Geostorm (Oct. 20), which featured an exposition-heavy trailer that made it seem almost a parody of the genre.
5. Franchises Stay Shrouded in Mystery
There were plenty of questions going into CinemaCon about the future of the biggest franchises, and not a lot of answers. Just weeks after James Cameron said Avatar 2 wouldn’t make its expected December 2018 date, 20th Century Fox didn’t address when the first of four planned sequels could be expected. The studio shared no release date for Deadpool 2, which is eyeing a start date in the coming months, nor did it offer a glimpse of what else can be expected for its X-Men franchise following Hugh Jackman’s retirement as Wolverine after Logan.
Warner Bros. brought out most of its Justice League cast, and shared the first concept art from 2018’s Aquaman, but it didn’t share any news about the half-dozen DC films it has in development. Meanwhile, Disney offered no updates on its Star Wars or Marvel Studios properties (Though a new Spider-Man: Homecoming trailer did debut during Sony’s opening night panel). Paramount, meanwhile, screened 20 minutes of Transformers: The Last Knight footage, but did not address what its fledging Transformers-shared universe might look like after Michael Bay steps down as a director on the franchise following Last Knight.