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ShoWest 2010 Showcases 3D

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Judy Thorburn

Las Vegas Round The Clock -
The Women's Film Critic Circle -
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ShoWest 2010 Showcases 3D, Upcoming Movies and Star Power

The annual ShoWest convention put on by NATO (National Association of Theatre Owners) convened at Bally's and Paris from March 15 through March 18, 2010. As the largest movie industry trade show in the world, this is where movie executives, distributors, theatre owner/managers, manufacturers of products and services, gather together to share the latest most exciting technologies, discuss ways to preserve their big screen product, enhance the movie going experience, and to honor the films, stars and filmmakers that brought in the big box office bucks.  As customary, there was also a trade show floor filled with concession vendors and a daily schedule that included seminars, sponsored breakfasts, luncheons and dinners, and special trailors and preview screenings of some of the most anticipated films of the year, many of which are expected to be blockbusters.

Mentioned from day one was the fact that although we are going though a recession and hard times,  it did not keep people away from movie theatres.  Over and over again studio executives emphatically stated that people see going to the movies as a reasonably priced form of escapism that cannot be replicated anywhere else.  To prove that point, 2009 had a record setting box-office take of $10.9 billion in North American ticket sales.

Going out to the movies is more fun than ever, especially since the latest advances in technology offers audiences such premium choices as  digital cinema, 3D, and IMAX, which immerses the movie goer into the ultimate, entertaining experience.  Twenty films were released in 3D in 2009 and with it being the growing trend, more and more 3D movies will hit theatres as audiences in the coming year and thereafter will be delighted to discover.

One issue addressed was an encouraging effort to bring healthy, more nutritional food to the concession stand.  Due to the epidemic of childhood obesity, and the fact that one out of three children are obese, it is important to meet the urgent health needs of the country. Polls suggest that people want healthier options such as fresh fruit, yogurt, granola bars, and unbuttered popcorn and parents are likely to buy one or more of those options for their kids if they are available. Audiences would love both – a great theatrical experience and healthy snacks.

Tuesday morning, DLP Cinema presented a Salute to the $100 Million Films of 2009.  Avatar, which, as of this writing, has made $2.6 billion at the box office worldwide and is the highest grossing film of all time,  topped the eclectic list of 31 movies that included Paranormal Activity, Sherlock Holmes, District 9, Angels and Demons, Inglorious Basterds, Watchmen, 2010, Taken, The Blind Side, The Hangover, Twilight, Up, Monsters and Aliens,The Princess and the Frog, Its Complicated, Terminator: Salvation and other box office hits.

Universal Studios offered attendees a first look at three of their upcoming Summer films. Enticing trailers were shown from Robin Hood starring Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett which is scheduled to open May 14, 2010. Get Em To the Greek, an R rated comedy starring Seth Rosen and Russell Brand will be released on June 4 and the animated 3D film Despicable Me starring the voice of Steve Carrell will be in theatres, July 9.

Tuesday night the Cinemark Theatres at the Orleans hosted a  "A Night Of Independent Films” with a lineup that consisted of Apparition's "The Square" from Australia, SONY Pictures Classics' Get Low starring Robert Duvall, Bill Murray and Sissy Spacek,  Focus Features' "The Kids Are All Right" starring Julianna Moore, Annette Bening and Mark Ruffalo, Hannover House's Twelve starring Chace Crawford, Emma Roberts and Rory Culkin,  Zipline Entertainment's  "Racing Dreams" about NASCAR racing, and Roadside Attraction's  "The Joneses" starring Demi Moore and David Duchovny. Each film was shown at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. so that attendees had the opportunity to see two of the six films. In between screenings, at 8 p.m. a special reception was held in the theatre lobby where attendees could enjoy a buffet style dinner and mingle with some of the featured films' stars and filmmakers in attendance.

During this year's ShoWest convention, there were also special ticketed screenings of upcoming major studios films such as Disney's/Pixar's Toy Story 3 in 2D (though not yet ready, it will be released in 3D) with returning voices of Tom Hanks and Tim Allen, Letters to Juliet starring ShoWest Breakthrough Actress of the Year Amanda Seyfried, SONY's remake of the Karate Kid starring Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan, Lionsgate's teen superhero comedy, Kick Ass, CBS Film's The Back up Plan starring Jennifer Lopez, and Disney's Prince of Persia starring Jake Gyllenhaal.
Judy Thorburn and fellow reporter, Ellen Sterling, with Toy Story characters

Toy Story characters
Photo credit: Judy Thorburn

After Wednesday's luncheon of Chinese food served buffet syle, young Jaden Smith was on hand at Paris' Theatre De Arts prior to the screening of  Karate Kid to accept his ShoWest Breakthrough Male Star of the Year Award. He was joined on stage by the film's producer Jerry Weintraub, and his parents, actor Will Smith and actress Jada Pinkett Smith (co-producers of the film) who stood on the sidelines beaming proudly as their adorable, talented  son accepted the award saying, “I am only 11. Thank you very much.”

Following the Thursday morning screening of The Back Up Plan, there was a luncheon sponsored by CBS Films which included preview clips from three of their upcoming movies for 2010. The star studded event included an appearance by Jennifer Lopez, who was excited about her latest film, the aforementioned romantic comedy, The Back Up Plan. Vanessa Hudgens, Alex Pettyfer, and Neil Patrick Harris took to the stage to help promote their film, Beastly, which is a modern day, re-imagined version of Beauty and the Beast, and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Billy Bob Thornton helped plug their film, Faster, an action drama which will be released in November.

After the luncheon, Warner Bros. Pictures presented a ticketed event titled “The Big Picture” where exclusive footage from Warner Bros. exciting lineup for 2010 was shown along with surprise appearance of the films' stars and directors,  Alan Horn, Pres & CEO of Warner Bros. Entertainment introduced the 2010 lineup that includes 5 films in 3D. Never before seen 3D footage from Clash of the Titans (which will be released on April 2) was presented followed by an appearance by its star Sam Worthington and director Louis Leterrier.  Also taking the stage were director Christopher Nolan following a clip from Inception starring Leonardo diCaprio; Writer/director Michael Patrick Kelly and three of his four leading ladies (Parker, Davis and Nixon) from the upcoming Sex and the City 2;  Zack Snyder, director  of the family friendly, animated adventure Legends of the Guardians;  Director Greg Breganti and his star Katherine Heigl from the romantic comedy Life As We Know It;  and Director Todd Phillips and stars of his comedy Due Date,  Zack Galifianakis and Robert Downey, Jr.   The final two installments of the Harry Potter franchise are also on the slate for 2010.  Although, only rough cut footage was available from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, it was enough to get everyone excited about what's in store, especially since the film will be in 3D.

In addition to Jaden Smith, actors and filmmakers honored with awards this year were the following recipients who received their award during the Final Night Banquet and Award Ceremonies hosted by Billy Bush of Access Hollywood.  Below are some quotes from their acceptance speeches.

Male Star of the Year: Sam Worthington – “This is very humbling.  I am an infant (in the business), but it (this award) gives you a f---king sh--tload of confidence... I am a fan and I've got one of the best jobs in the world... I used to be a bricklayer in Perth, Australia....Simple story telling affects you in the heart. I am a very lucky boy to be doing that.”

Female Star of the Year: Katherine Heigl -  Audiences know her as a blonde beauty, but she recently has gone brunette for an upcoming role, and is nonetheless stunning. Upon getting up from her seat and heading to the  stage, the actress had a wardrobe malfunction, but joked about it saying “This is what I get from not listening to my stylist”,  then went with the flow with help from host Billy Bush who stood behind her holding the broken strap of her dress up as she accepted the award saying,“Thank you so much for supporting my movies.”
Katherine Heigl with Billy Bush assiting with her wardrobe malfunction
Photo credit: Judy Thorburn

Breakthrough Actress of the Year: Amanda Seyfried - “This is an honor...super, super encouraging for me.”

Comedy Star of the Year: Zach Galifianakis – Poking fun at MoNique's Oscar acceptance speech, he first said, “I want to thank my husband”, before stating “In all seriousness, I would like to thank myself, because I lied to myself for 10 years thinking I couldn't do this.” Zack then thanked his girlfriend and "all the Jews who work for me.”

Director of the Year: Todd Phillips - “I didn't get into this because of the Academy Awards.  It is because I love movies.  It's a life changing experience.”  He then thanked everyone for their support including the Warner Bros. Team.

Comedy Director of the Decade: Jay Roach - “I am really glad Judd Apatow is busy tonight. I will get to hold this award and take it to meetings. Thanks so much. I really appreciate it.”

Ensemble Award: the cast of Sex and the City;  Sarah Jessica Parker, Kristin Davis, Cynthia Nixon and Kim Cattrall (who couldn't make it since she was busy starring in a play in London) –  Billy Bush introduced the three stars as “formidable actresses, each in their own right...together they are dynamite.” He then joked, 'You can say you saw the greatest threesome on stage and your wife got more excited then you”.  Cynthia Nixon accepted the award  on behalf of her female co-stars/friends who stood by her side. “It's always nice to get an ensemble award. We are here about acting with each other. To receive an ensemble award is especially important to us,” she said.

Female Star of Tomorrow:  Vanessa Hudgens - “I can't tell you how proud and blessed I am to be here.”

Male Star of Tomorrow: Alex Pettyfer - “I never won anything in my life before.  I won a third place prize in school, but I am sure the teacher felt bad for me.”

Lifetime Achievement Award: Jerry Bruckheimer - “I'm lucky to be part of this magical business. I fell in love with it the first time I walked into a theatre growing up in Motor City.”  He then said, “Do you guys know something I don't know?  Usually you receive this late in life (insinuating he isn't old enough to get a life time achievement award). I can assure you I have no intention of slowing down.  This is a great honor. Thank you.”

In addition, Twilight Saga: New Moon received the Fandango Fan Choice Award for Favorite Movie of 2009; The 2009 Coca Cola Refreshing Filmaker's Award was presented to Alice Mathias and Andy Landen; and Warner Bros. Pictures was given the Box Office Achievement Award for  establishing a worldwide box office record of $4.01 billion in 2009.

As this year's ShoWest came to a close, it marked the end of MPAA Chairman Dan Glickman's presence as he said during Tuesday morning's convention address that he is leaving his job after 6 years to return to public service where he will be working with Refugees International.

I was also informed that this was the last ShoWest convention, as NATO (the National Association of Theatre Owners) has made a transition. Next year, in 2011, the gathering of industry players will meet at Caesar's Palace for what will be called CinemaCon.  While the name might be different, in a matter of speaking, the  "ShoWest" goes on.
Last, but certainly, not least, I want to thank Heather Lewandowski and  Jessica Erskine  of  the L.A. based PR firm, Rogers and Cowan for once again being so accommodating and doing such a great job.   I look forward to working with them again when CinemaCon. rolls around at its new venue in 2011.

Photo credits: Stephen Thorburn

Amanda Seyfried

Amanda Seyfried

Sarah Jessica Parker, Cynthia Nixon and Kristin Davis

Sarah Jessica Parker, Cynthia Nixon and Kristin Davis

Cynthia Nixon

Cynthia Nixon

Sarah Jessica Parker

Sarah Jessica Parker

Kristin Davis

Kristin Davis

Jay Roach

Jay Roach

Jerry Bruckheimer

Jerry Bruckheimer

Katherine Heigl and Robert Luketic

Katherine Heigl

Katherine Heigl

Michael Lewis and Jon Landau

Michael Lewis and Jon Landau

Sam Worthington

Sam Worthington

Todd Phillips

Todd Phillips

Vanessa Hudgins

Vanessa Hudgins

Vanessa Hudgins and Alex Pettyfer

Alex Pettyfer

Alice Mathias and Andy Landen

Andy Landen and Alice Mathias

Zach Galifianakis

Zach Galifianakis

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