Sony chairman and CEO Tom Rothman did not hold back Monday on the opening night of CinemaCon in Las Vegas, reminding a crowd of theatre owners and exhibitors that Sony is and was the “only major studio dedicated entirely to theatrical.”
The studio’s motion pictures group president Josh Greenstein added that while other studios experimented with streaming and shortened theatrical windows over the past few years, Sony stayed the course.
“Just two years ago in the throes of the pandemic, there was a lot of noise, a lot of talk about the death of exhibition,” Greenstein said on stage at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace. “The future, everyone said, was streaming.”
Now some of those studios who pivoted are “realizing the value of exclusive theatrical windows and reversing course,” he said. Some streamers are even getting into the theatrical game in a meaningful way.
“Oh how the times have changed,” Greenstein said. “I say come on in, there’s room for everyone, the water is fine.”
One of those streamers is Apple TV, who partnered with Sony to give Ridley Scott’s Napoleon, starring Joaquin Phoenix, a robust theatrical release in November, before it goes to its small screen subscribers. Rothman excitedly previewed the first ever footage from the film from the 85-year-old director.
“Old school, big screen,” Rothman said. “Epic is the only proper description of that Apple original film.”
Sony was first the presentation of many to come this week from studios including Warner Bros., Disney, Universal, Paramount and Lionsgate. All come to Las Vegas armed with new footage and major stars to assure their partners in exhibition that they have the product to get audiences in their theatres.
Sony has 23 theatrical releases set for 2023, and touted its mix of IP-driven fare, superheroes and sequels as well as their commitment to original films, like R-rated comedies and horror.
“The more ‘they’ say those genres are dead, the better we like it,” Rothman said. “Originality is always a risk, but to me, the bigger risk is boring the audience to death with sameness.”
Jennifer Lawrence introduced a funny clip from her R-rated summer comedy No Hard Feelings, about a woman hired by a shy 19-year-old’s parents to “date” him. David Harbour and Orlando Bloom showed the first trailer for the video game adaptation Gran Turismo, about racing simulator experts who get a chance to drive a real racecourse, directed by Neill Blomkamp. The high-octane spot with lines like “You miss a line in the game, you can reset. You miss it on the track, you die” got a hearty cheer from the crowd.
Glen Powell and Sydney Sweeney brought some rom-com energy to the stage with some dailies from Anyone But You, which recently wrapped filming in Australia.
“We love seeing ourselves on the big screen,” Powell said with a smirk.
“Ok, ‘Top Gun’,” quipped Sweeney.
Craig Gillespe previewed his GameStop movie Dumb Money, starring Paul Dano as a redditor and youtuber from a blue-collar family who sent Wall Street into chaos, that’s expected in theaters in October.
“It’s a really communal film about the little person,” the I Tonya director said. “It’s a true story about how the everyday investor flipped the script on Wall Street.”
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse co-director Kemp Powers asked that people “bring everyone you know” to see the sequel in theatres on June 2. It is, he said, “the only place this film deserves to be seen.”
He was joined on stage Shameik Moore, who voices Miles Morales, Hailee Steinfeld, the voice of Gwen Stacy, and Issa Rae who plays Jessica Drew, a Spider-Woman of another dimension.
Moore said it’s been over a year since the events of the first film when we pick up with Miles, who is “still trying to figure out how to be a superhero.”
Some sent in pre-recorded clips, like Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, from the set of Bad Boys 4, which is currently in production, and Aaron Taylor-Johnson, teasing new footage from Kraven the Hunter, Sony’s first R-rated Marvel movie. Taylor-Johnson said he couldn’t be in Las Vegas because his contract limits him to only two grams of carbs a day.
Denzel Washington also made a brief appearance to accept a lifetime achievement award from CinemaCon and to preview Equalizer 3.
“We would be nothing without you all. What we do means nothing if you’re not there,” Washington told the exhibitors. “We’re here for you, we’re here because of you and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
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