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LAS VEGAS –“How much for your daughter?” Sacha Baron Cohen — in character as General Aladeen— asked an audience member as he walked down one of the center aisles of The Colosseum at Caesars Palace. The Dictator appeared for the first time since the Oscar ceremony, when the actor famously paraded the red carpet and dumped ashes on Ryan Seacrest.
Dressed in the same white uniform, Baron Cohen arrived in spectacular fashion at CinemaCon on Monday night to roast Hollywood and promote his comedy The Dictator, which was part of Paramount’s opening-night presentation as the annual gathering of theater owners kicked off.
But before Baron Cohen entered The Colosseum, Paramount vice chairman Rob Moore played footage of the film that revealed the movie’s full storyline for the first time, namely, that Baron Cohen’s character ends up on the streets of New York, defrocked as a dictator.
Moore also announced that the studio was hosting a surprise screening of The Dictator for exhibitors later in the evening (the first public viewing). The Dictator reteams Baron Cohen with Borat director Larry Charles and opens May 16.
When walking down one of center aisles of the Colosseum on his way to the stage, Baron Cohen immediately asked one audience member, “how much for your daughter?”
Once on the stage the actor proclaimed: “Hello, and death to the West. I am happy to address Cinnabon.” He also instructed them that as the ruler of the Republic of Wadiya, he has starred in many movies, including “When Harry Kidnapped Sally” and “The Planet of the Rapers.”
He also took aim at DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, who was likewise part of the Paramount presentation because of Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted and Rise of the Guardians.
“I thought I was the only dictator in the house, but Jeffrey Katenberg is here. He rules with an iron first,” Baron Cohen said (upon exiting, he went over to Katzenberg, who saluted him).
His next target was Disney and the recent exit by Walt Disney Studios chairman Rich Ross. Baron Cohen pulled an item from his pocket and indicated it was a detonator. “It’s a bigger bomb than John Carter. In my country you shoot executives. Oh wait, you did,” Baron Cohen said.
Baron Cohen wasn’t the only high-profile star taking part in Paramount and DreamWorks Animation’s combined presentation. Tom Cruise taped a special video message to introduce extended footage from One Shot, starring Cruise as Jack Reacher, the title character of the book series by Lee Childs. Paramount opens the pic Dec. 21.
Cruise’s casting raised eyebrows, since Reacher stands 6-foot-5 in the books. “I guess Lee felt like I was the guy to drive fast cars and beat the shit out of people,” Cruise said in his message.
Chris Rock took the stage to talk about Madagascar 3 and introduced 25 minutes of footage from the threequel, which opens June 8. Chris Pine was on duty for Rise of the Guardians, which opens Nov. 21.
A number of top-flight studio executives and filmmakers took part in a tribute video for Paramount’s outgoing president of distribution Jim Tharp, a longtime exhibitor before going to run distribution for DreamWorks. He later segued to Paramount.
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