Taking a low-key approach, Warner Bros. presented new footage Tuesday for its theatrical slate over the next seven months without significant dating changes, and without the normal ritual of top brass on hand at exhibitors’ confab CinemaCon in Las Vegas.
The studio’s reel shown at the showroom at Caesars Palace included new footage of “The Batman” starring Robert Pattinson and the opening sequence for “The Many Saints of Newark” that is a prequel to “The Sopranos.” A glimpse at the first trailer for “The Matrix 4” was also revealed, along with its title: “The Matrix: Resurrections.” For Clint Eastwood’s neo-Western drama “Cry Macho,” the presentation was a mini-homage to Eastwood’s career with praise via recorded comments by Steven Spielberg, Meryl Streep and other cinema luminaries. The tributes were mixed with “Cry Macho” movie clips.
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Beyond the near-term theatrical slate, Warner Bros. teased that five movie adaptations of its DC Comics properties are expected down the road.
The hour-long presentation was mostly a video presentation anchored by Warner domestic theatrical distribution chief Jeff Goldstein and international distribution counterpart Andrew Cripps on camera. In an unusual bit of staging, a Midwest exhibitor made the in-person introduction: Rolando Rodriguez, who is also chairman of the National Assn. of Theatre Owners (NATO) that sponsors CinemaCon.
The Warner slate was well-received, though exhibitors in the audience were restless at junctures of presentation with comments about the studio’s commitment to cinema. In December, Warner Bros. Pictures said that its theatrical films would be available on its corporate sibling HBO Max the same day they arrive in theaters for 2021.
But the studio’s films are still flowing to cinema — Warner gets credit for releasing big-budget “Tenet” last year when pandemic risk was high, and in July HBO Max announced it would produce a slate of it least 10 movies, presumably setting the stage for more cinema exclusivity for Warner studio-originated theatrical films in 2022.
The overall CinemaCon event is downsized because the pandemic deterred attendance. Most conspicuous in short supply are screen stars and major behind-the-camera talent who would normally support slate presentations with in-person star power. Universal Pictures-based animation producer Chris Meledandri was on hand to address an earlier session Tuesday. An MGM presentation Monday served up company brass that spoke in-person and Sony Pictures stepped forward with a hefty in-person presentation on Monday.
CinemaCon says upwards of 2,000 industry execs registered, which is down from its normal event contingent of 3,000-3,500 persons. The industry-ites on hand seemed happy to get down to business watching distributor movie slate presentations; sizing up the CinemaCon trade show of service and equipment venders; and behind-the-scenes private meeting face-to-face. The second largest circuit, Regal Cinemas, is said to have brought about 500 executives.
CinemaCon’s mood of shrugging off the pandemic fits with the Las Vegas environment. The gambling mecca is packed with large summer vacationing crowds in casinos and on its legendary Strip, seemingly unconcerned that the city is a designated COVID-19 hot-spot right now. State government mandated masks be worn indoors a month ago to battle the virus surge, which made for a face-coverings-mandatory CinemaCon.