Christian Bale and Jennifer Lawrence on the set of 'American Hustle' (Photo: Splash/FAMEFLYNET PICTURES)
Sony began their CinemaCon presentation tonight by repeatedly reminding the exhibition community audience that the studio made $4.4 billion worldwide last year, making them the reigning box office champ. Then Sony put their money where their mouth is and displayed a dazzling sizzle reel that shows they don't plan on giving up that title anytime soon.
But before the footage could commence, the presentation was rudely interrupted by Trojans blaring trumpets as Adam Sandler, Salma Hayek, David Spade, and Kevin James were escorted to the stage via hand held chariots. Spade joked that they were there to promote "Twilight 4: Electric Boogaloo," but they were actually there to thank the theater owners for making "Grown Ups" (2010) such a hit, while rallying support for "Grown Ups 2" to receive the same treatment this summer.
After the "Grown Ups" left the stage, the sizzle reel commenced, albeit slowly at first, with previously seen trailers for Sandler's flick and Will Smith and son's "After Earth." Granted, all the trailers popped on the giant Coliseum screen inside Cesar's Palace, but the Internet doesn't buzz on previously seen trailers now, does it?
No, we're in it for the new footage, and Sony had plenty of that to offer. It's hard to pick an outright highlight, but there were a few choice first-looks that definitely deserve seconds.
The most buzzy of those has to be the brief glimpse we got of David O. Russell's recently re-titled Abscam project, "American Hustle," tag-lined "the biggest hustle in America." Vaguely reminiscent of an old school Scorsese flick, replete with period fashion, swinging excess, and the Rolling Stones' "Heartbreaker" blaring, the reel quickly popped glimpses of some of today's biggest stars sporting some of yesterday's best-forgotten hairdos, including Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner, Amy Adams, and Christian Bale.
A perfectly mustachioed George Clooney and producing partner Grant Heslov sent in a video greeting thanking the exhibitioners and introducing their World War II art-heist film "The Monuments Men," which Clooney also stars in and directs. After realizing "Argo" (2012) was distributed by a competing studio, the two men put down their Oscars and showed off a tiny amount of footage revealing Cate Blanchet looking glamorous with golden curls, Bill Murray as a jeep riding officer, and Matt Damon dashing in uniform.
First footage was also shown of Tom Hanks as "Captain Phillips," a freighter captain whose ship gets taken over by pirates -- the Somali kind, not the Jack Sparrow type. Director Paul Greengrass ("The Bourne Supremacy" 2004) appears to have the tension thoroughly ratcheted up for the sea-going drama, based on the 2009 Somali hijacking of the MV-Maersk Alabama, the first U.S. cargo ship overcome by pirates in some two centuries.
Sony Pictures' 'This is the End'
The most laughs of the evening came from Seth Rogen's apocalyptic comedy "This is the End," which aside from the goods we've already seen also featured a lengthy fight between James Franco and Danny McBride over the defiling of Franco's best porno mag. We also caught an extended glimpse of Jonah Hill being possessed by Satan, and not being very compelled to stop.
There was also plenty to see from "Elysium," Neil Blomkamp's ("District 9" 2009) gritty sci-fi haves versus have-nots tale, including an extended fight sequence between Matt Damon's gang of rebellious outlaws and William Fichter's droids trying to protect him from having data mined from his very important brain. If you're a fan of realistic post-apocalyptic dystopian futures, put this one right at the top of your list.
Another highlight was the extended look at Channing Tatum protecting President Jamie Foxx in "White House Down." While it looks to be just as bloody as the similarly plotted "Olympus Has Fallen," it also looks to be a lot more fun than Gerard Butler's take, including a President who really values his Air Jordans.
On the less exciting front, the sizzle reel also featured previously seen footage of the animated sequel "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2," the baffling as to how come it needs a sequel "Smurfs 2," the tween-girl scream inducing "One Direction: This is Us," the YA demon hunter offering "The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones," the Stephen King reboot "Carrie," and the "Rocky" meets "Step-Up" dance flick "Battle of the Year: The Dream Team."
Time will tell about which studio will hold the 2013 box office title, but you got to beat the champ if you want to be the champ, and Sony's 2013 slate looks like a winner.
Watch the "White House Down" theatrical trailer...
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