The Quorum

What we’re looking for at CinemaCon

For movie geeks who works in the film industry, CinemaCon is like Christmas. Once a year, theater owners congregate in Las Vegas to get a first look at the upcoming films from all the major studios.  

Each studio schedules a two-to-three hour presentation where exhibitors large and small get to see trailers before anyone else. In most cases, an A-list star is flown in to introduce a trailer or an extended clip. Sure, it’s a dog and pony show, but it’s one hell of a fun one.

CinemaCon also gives industry watchers a sense of what’s a priority for the studio. You can tell which films will work and which are likely to underperform. For example, when Warner Bros. introduced the never-before-seen trailer for JOKER, it was clear as day the film would be huge. The buzz machine went into overdrive.   

With CinemaCon starting on Monday, here are some of the films we’re curious to learn more about, by studio.

DISNEY:

On the heels of the tragic passing of Chadwick Boseman, there is a bittersweet curiosity about BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER. The first film is the 3rd highest grossing film from the MCU and the top earner among stand-alone Marvel films that introduce a new character. The first one remains an essential and beloved cultural touchstone, which made the untimely passing of Boseman in 2020 even more tragic.

How does BLACK PANTHER move forward without the title character? With a November release date, there should be enough footage for Disney to put together something for the CinemaCon audience. Let’s hope so.

PARAMOUNT:

Back in 2017, Damien Chazelle won the Academy Award for Best Director for LA LA LAND. That film was an enormous hit grossing over $150M domestically. His follow-up, FIRST MAN, was a box office misfire reaching $45M, so all eyes are on Chazelle to rebound with BABYLON.

A Hollywood period piece that focuses on the transition from silent films to talkies in the 1920s, it has an all-star cast toplined by Bratt Pitt, Margot Robbie, and Tobey Maguire. It feels like a marriage of ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD and THE GREAT GATSBY. Paramount will be platforming this one over the holidays, just in time for awards season. 

SONY

What does Whitney Houston have in common with Aretha Franklin, Fred Rogers, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg? All four have been the subject of both a documentary and a scripted biopic. Houston has been the subject of several projects over the past few years, but it’s the upcoming I WANNA DANCE WITH SOMEBODY with the highest profile.

Naomi Ackie, who is perhaps best known for her work in MASTER OF NONE, certainly looks like Houston. But Houston was a singular talent, and we’re curious to see if Ackie can pull it off. DANCE arrives in theaters on December 21st

UNIVERSAL

Universal owes a considerable debt of gratitude to Jordan Peele. His first two films, GET OUT and US, grossed a combined $350M domestically on minuscule budgets under $20M. We’re talking money hand-over-fist for the studio.

So you can expect a full-court press for his third film, NOPE, due in July. Universal already previewed the film during a splashy Super Bowl roll-out, but the numbers on The Quorum remain frustratingly low. There was a slight bump in awareness from the teaser trailer in February, but since then, awareness has plateaued in the mid-20s. 

We’re curious to see what the next part of the NOPE campaign looks like, and, more importantly, if it lifts these tracking numbers.

WARNER BROS.

Ezra Miller’s recent troubles with the law have been difficult to watch. It’s not easy to watch a star spiraling so abruptly. As the title character in THE FLASH, due next June, Miller’s situation has put Warner Bros. in an awkward position.

Without question, Warner Bros. will be focusing on its DC films at CinemaCon. What remains unclear is if THE FLASH will be part of their presentation or not. It’s the elephant in the room. Its omission would certainly speak volumes if they talk about BLACK ADAM and AQUAMAN THE LOST KINGDOM, but not THE FLASH.

LIONSGATE

Will Keanu Reeves make an appearance? We certainly hope so. JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 4 is easily the highest profile film on the Lionsgate slate, so it would be a major disappointment if we didn’t get some peak at what the next chapter holds.

As you can see above, WICK is already in the top 10 in awareness and interest. There is no doubt this movie will be huge. We just want one little peek behind the curtain. Don’t let us down, Lionsgate!!

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