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Movie Industry Giants and Cinema Owners Celebrate The Movie Going Experience at 2012 CinemaCon

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Movie Industry Giants and Cinema Owners Celebrate The Movie Going Experience at 2012 CinemaCon

For the first time in over a decade, all the major film studios including Paramount, Warner Bros., Lionsgate, Sony Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Disney (and their partners at DreamWorks, Marvel Entertainment and Pixar) and Universal were represented at CinemaCon 2012,  the annual convention of NATO (National Association of Theater Owners) that is the largest and most important gathering of cinema owners and operators from around the world. The four day event was held at Caesars Palace from Monday, April 23 to Thursday, April 26 and drew attendees from over 62 countries to celebrate one of the world's favorite past times, going to the movies.

John Fithian, President and CEO of NATO announced at his state of the industry address on Tuesday, April 24 that the studios and theatre owners had reason to celebrate. Global box office for all films each each country around the world reached $32.6 billion in 2011, up 3% over the previous year. After a bad start last year, domestic box office over the 12 months prior to CinemaCon 2012 grew more than 6% over the same period in the previous year. And, Paramount had the distinction of being the first-ever studio to surpass a $3 billion dollar year at the box office.


Along with the trade show floor that featured the latest technological advances, concession goodies, comfort seating and more to enhance the theater audience movie going experience, each of the movie studios presented a sneak peak of their upcoming films slated for release in 2012 and beyond, many which were being seen  for the very first time.  The hot topics included discussions about more and more movies being released in 3D, the ongoing conversion to high definition digital projection, and the newest innovations:  films being shot in a higher frame rate, and what was described as “the cinema of the future”; the introduction of laser projection which offers the promise of a brighter light source and savings on bulb costs.

A slew of movie stars and filmmakers appeared in person including Charlize Theron, Kristen Stewart, Johnny Depp, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Chris Rock, Tim Burton, John C. Reilly, Sacha Baron Cohen, Mila Kunis, Cameron Diaz, Salma Hayek, producer Jeffrey Katzenberg, directors John Chu, Martin Scorsese, Ang Lee,  and the list goes on. All were in attendance to help promote their upcoming films and to thank the theater owners and managers, while several were honored with awards.

The Gala Opening Night Studio Event on Monday, April 23, presented by Paramount Pictures and Dreamworks Animations featured trailers and clips of select upcoming releases including G.I. JOE: RETALIATION (in theaters June 29) and Rise of the Guardians ( November 21). Prior to the evening's event G.I. Joe stars Dwayne Johnson, Adrianne Palicki & D.J. Cotrona,  director Jon Chu and producer, Lorenzo de Bonaventura , Rise of the Guardian's Director Peter Ramsey and Chris Rock who lends his voice to one of the animated characters in Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted (in theatres June 8) made their way down the red carpet for a photo opportunities with the media.

Later at the studio presentation, John Chu, director of G.I. Joe said, “I grew up watching GI Joe and would play it in his backyard and on the couch. I fell in love with it and jumped a the chance make the movie.”

Before presenting Dwayne Johnson with the  Action Star of the Decade Award, Chu said “We call him franchise viagra. Any movie he is in he brings their game up.” Upon accepting the award, Johnson recalled growing up in Charlotte. N.C. and going to the movies where he saw Indiana Jones as a child. “I wanted to be like that guy.  Receiving this award is very special to me. I have a personal connection. Thank you for making the dreams of an 8 year old boy come true,” he told the crowd.

Chis Rock introduced a clip from Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted  which will be released in 3D, on June 8. After being introduced by Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO of DreamWorks Animation, Director Peter Rampsey showed clips from Rise of the Guardians (coming in November) based on a book by William Joyce. Ramsey emphasized the film is “a big, magical epic that will peak to generations.”  Katzenberg said the film is “one of the most unusual and unique moves we have made at Dreamworks. Among the stars lending their voices to the animated characters are Hugh Jackman, Alec Baldwin, Jude Law, Isla Fisher and Chris Pine.  Pine who plays Jack, talked about his role in the film that he stated was “wonderful and moving and there are lots we can learn from it”.

Lorenzo de Bonaventura
Photo credit: Judy Thorburn

John Chu
Photo credit: Judy Thorburn

D. J. Cotrona and Adrianne Palicki
Photo credit: Judy Thorburn

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Chris Rock
Photo credit: Judy Thorburn

Peter Ramsey and Jeffrey Katzenberg
Photo credit: Judy Thorburn

Chris Pine
Photo credit: Judy Thorburn

Antonio Banderas, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Jack Black

Cameron Diaz and Jeffrey Katzenberg

Martin Scorsese (center) and Ang Lee (on the right)
Photo credit: Judy Thorburn

Jeffrey Katzenberg
Photo credit: Judy Thorburn

Billy Bush
Photo credit: Judy Thorburn

CinemaCon 2012_Leslie_Mann_2
Leslie Mann
Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn

CinemaCon 2012_Tyrese_2
Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn

Tom Cruise did not show up in person, but appeared on video to talk about his film “One Shot, based on a series of best selling crime novels by Lee Child. Although they were rough-cuts, three scenes were shown as a taste and tone of what to expect.

The Paramount and DreamWorks presentation culminated with a showing of a trailer from The Dictator, the latest project from the ever controversial Sacha Baron Cohen. That was followed by an unexpected surprise when Cohen, dressed in character as General Aladeen of Wadiya, surrounded by two female and two male armed bodyguards appeared at the back of the theatre.  As they marched down the aisle to the stage, Cohen stopped at a woman sitting in an aisle seat and asked how much she would charge for her daughter. Once on stage, he said, "It is a pleasure to be here to address Cinebomb," He added that he was told he'd be the only dictator in the room that night but "imagine my surprise when I heard Jeffrey Katzenberg was speaking." Before leaving, he invited the audience to a special 11 p.m. screening that evening of The Dictator at Rave Theatre.

Tuesday's sneak peak of Warner Bros upcoming films was preceded by an announcement that the studio was “celebrating 85 years and the best to come”.  At the presentation, Tim Burton  came out to introduce a clip from Dark Shadows. In talking about the film adaptation of the iconic TV soap opera that was in class all its own,  Burton stated he was a fan of the  show and had a “strange love of weird cultural phenoms” that he shared with Johnny Depp, with whom he had worked with on eight films. Depp made a surprise entrance on stage which was greeted with thunderous applause.  He didn't utter a word to the crowd, but waved at the audience as he walked off.

Next up was director Christopher Nolan, who introduced what he referred to as “a selection of images” from the final installment of the Batman trilogy, “The Dark Knight Rises – The Legend Ends” starring Christian Bale.

Nolan was followed by Adam Shankman (Hairspray) who showed footage from Rock of Ages, based on the 1987 Tony Award winning Broadway musical. The film version stars Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, Catherine Zeta Jones and up and coming Diego Boneta (recipient of CinemaCon's Rising Star of 2012).

After he was introduced, Shankman said, ""I'm older than he is, but I want to be Christopher Nolan when I grow up. After I saw the footage (of Batman), I just looked at him and said, 'You f---er, that is some badass sh-t,'" Shankman added.  Shankman described his film "like Hairspray but with booze and strippers.” Yet, he exclaimed, “If I can make a musical that every man can bring his woman to then (raising his arms in the air), yeah! It (this film) is a party from beginning to end”.

Director Jay Roach  introduced a clip from his political comedy The Campaign starring Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis.  “The actors (Will and Zac) came to me wanting to make a film together that would have them going against each other. A political comedy was the perfect scenario,” said Roach. "We moved the release date up to Aug. 10 to make sure we are funnier than real life stuff.”

Australian director Baz Lurhrmann introduced scenes from The Great Gatsby, his 3-D remake starring Leonardo DiCaprio. The original starred Alan Ladd and another, decades later, starred Robert Redford.

In what turned out to be one of the highlights at this year's CinemaCon was the stunning, 10 minute  footage from Peter Jackson's new movie, the epic 3D film adaptation of Tolkien's The Hobbit (which opens December 14) that was shot at a  frame rate of 48 per second achieving an unprecedented combination of uniformity and brightness. The trailer blew away everyone in the audience. Afterwards, everyone was talking about how the action looked like it was happening right there live on the big screen. “The higher frame rate, which is double the usual 24 frames per second, creates much more of an illusion of real life. The images are sharper in the faster frame rate and looks fantastic in both 3D or 2D,” Jackson noted.

Later in the afternoon, Disney, Dreamworks, Marvel and Pixar presented their highlights of Summer of 2012 and beyond.

One of Dreamworks most anticipated films is The Avengers which opens up domestically on May 4.  Marvel Studios has highly anticipated action sequels for  release in 2013 and 2014. Thor 2  will open November 5, 2013; Iron Man  3 opens May 3, 2013 and Captain America 2 is scheduled for release on April 4, 2014.

Clips were shown from some of the films that will be opening in the coming months.

Dreamworks showed clips from “People Like Us”, a story inspired by real life events, starring Chris Pine, Olivia Wilde and Elizabeth Banks and “Lincoln” directed by Steven Spielberg starring Daniel Day Lewis and Sally Field.

The Disney preview included clips from Tim Burton's stop action animated Frankenweenie, that will be released on Oct. 5. Burton was back on stage to talk about this film.  He said it was more personal since it was inspired by his childhood experience with his dog and all the characters are based on certain childhood memories.

Jennifer Garner introduced a sneak peak of “The Odd Life of Timothy Green” that she co-stars with Joel Eggerton.  “It is a special movie that should touch the heart of all who see it”, said Garner. Based on the trailer, I can only add that it looks to be an emotionally riveting gem.

Disney also showed the first scenes from Oz: The Great and Powerful, directed by Sam Raimi that tells the history behind the characters of the Wizard of Oz. Producer Joe Roth was introduced and spoke a little about the making of the film.  He stated there was 8 sets created and there were 2,000 special effects shot in 3D.  Roth brought along two of its stars, James Franco who plays the title character, and Mila Kunis (I won't divulge who she plays).

When a Muppets sequel was announced, Kermit came onstage riding a plastic horse and wearing a cowboy hat, announcing his wish to portray The Lone Ranger. Then, before you knew it, Miss Piggy, never to be out-staged, arrived at the other end of the stage dressed as Glinda, the good witch, hoping to land that role in Oz.  Needless to say, the muppet duo added some comic relief to the presentation.

Of course, being cast in those roles were never in the cards for both Kermit and Miss Piggy. The Lone Ranger stars Armie Hammer in the title role and Johnny Depp plays his faithful Native American sidekick, Tonto. The Lone Ranger, directed by Gore Verbinski, is a thrilling adventure infused with action and humor in which the famed masked hero is brought to life through new eyes.

Producer Jerry Bruckheimer was on hand and he was accompanied by Depp who actually spoke this time, saying “The story is told from Tonto's point of view. While the classic elements from the original, such as the black mask and horse remain, there are some interesting additions that Jay Silverheals (the actor that originally played Tonto) would not have wanted.” Depp described the film as “The Odd Couple meets The Wild Bunch”. Later it was announced that Jack White will write, produce and perform the score of The Lone Ranger, which hits theaters May 31, 2013.

Walt Disney Animation Studios previewed the first 6 minutes of “Wreck It Ralph”, that reveals the secret life of video game characters. Disney/Pixar Animation Studios President John Lasseter referred to the clips as a “rough draft”. Jack BcBrayer (of TV's 30 Rock), Jayne Lynch and Sarah Silverman supply their voices to supporting characters and John C. Reilly voices the title character.

Pixar's slate for for 2014 and beyond include The Good Dinosaur (opening on May 30, 2014); the next movie from the creative team of Toy Story 3, and an original story about the hispanic holiday Dia de los Muertos. Closer to release are Finding Nemo in 3D on September 14, 2012; the re-release of Monsters, Inc. now in 3D, on January 19, 2013 followed by a prequel, titled Monsters University, once again with John Goodman and Billy Crystal lending their voices to the lead characters.

Last but not least, John Lasseter returned to the stage, although this time he was wearing a kilt, and was  accompanied by a Scottish band, complete with bagpipes and drums as he offered up a full 30 minutes of Brave, set in the Scottish highlands. Lassetter noted that it was the first Pixar animated film with a female lead character. “The film will set a new high bar for visuals.  It is funny with tremendous heart”, he said.

During Wednesday's luncheon, RealD Inc. a leading global licensor of 3D technologies, awarded its third ‘RealD Innovation in 3D Award’ to five-time Academy Award winning film ‘HUGO’.  Academy Award winning filmmaker and ‘HUGO’ director Martin Scorsese was on hand to accept the award on behalf of the film from RealD Chairman and CEO, Michael V. Lewis.

“’HUGO’ set a new bar for innovative use of 3D, representing a leap forward in 3D filmmaking by utilizing 3D techniques to draw audiences into the story in ways unobtainable in 2D,” said Lewis. “With his work on ‘HUGO,’ Mr. Scorsese has embraced 3D as a creative tool and demonstrated its true potential to bring a life-like and fully immersive world to the big screen.”

"I had a fascination with 3D that goes back to the View-Master. I'd always dreamed of making a film in 3D. It's like a combination of theatre and film. There's something 3D gives to a movie that takes you to another land," said Martin Scorsese in his comments upon receiving the award. "Working with RealD creatively was a liberating experience. Thank you RealD for allowing us to make something like ‘HUGO.’"

The ‘RealD Innovation in 3D Award’ recognizes extraordinary contributions to digital 3D that embody the pioneering and creative spirit the technology brings to life in cinema and other applications.

Late Wednesday afternoon, Sony Pictures' showed clips from their upcoming product slate that included a remake of  Total Recall starring Colin Farell; the next James Bond film: Skyfall;  Adam Sandler's That's My Boy; Hope Springs, starring Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones and Steve Carrell; the action sci fi thriller Looper starring Joseph Gorden Levitt and Bruce Willis;  Premium Rush also starring Joseph Gordon Levitt;  and the remake of the musical Sparkle starring former American Idol winner Jordan Sparks and the late, great Whitney Houston in her last film role.  Also shown were footage from upcoming 3D releases, Men in Black, The Amazing Spider-Man (July)  Resident Evil- Retribution (December) and the animated, Hotel Transylvania (September). For 2113 and beyond we can expect releases of a The Smurfs sequel, M. Night Shyamalan's After Earth starring Will Smith, Robo Cop, and Evil Dead.

Wednesday night, The Will Rogers Motion Picture Pioneers Foundation, the industry’s foremost charitable organization, presented its 2012 “Pioneer of the Year” Award to Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO of DreamWorks Animation SKG at a dinner hosted by Jack Black.  Special guests were Antonio Banderas and Cameron Diaz who dished out  some kind words about the industry mogul they have worked with and have high regard.

In accepting his award, Katzenberg said, “This reward is a reminder of what a lucky guy I am doing what I genuinely love. He jokingly added, “The only thing better in this evening would be to have stadium seating and popcorn with butter.” ”

Proceeds from the event go to the Motion Picture Pioneers Assistance Fund, an industry charity that helps movie industry veterans who are encountering an illness, injury or life-changing event.

“We are honored in our own right to be able to single out someone like Jeffrey Katzenberg,” noted Ted Cooper. “When it comes to passion for our industry and compassion for those in our industry who need help, Jeffrey has no equals. He is most deserving of this prestigious accolade. As well we thank our friends at NATO for their continued support as we could not imagine a better forum at which to honor Jeffrey than at CinemaCon 2012.”

Thursday morning, Twentieth Century Fox unveiled their slate of big films to open in 2012. By far, the most anticipated is Ang Lee's first film in 3D that is based on Yann Martel's 2001 best-seller Life of Pi, about a 17 year-old boy and his relationship with a Bengal tiger. The acclaimed director stated, he was "so happy I got to make that attempt and learn the 3D language." Lee stated that the audience was about to see an unfinished work, an early look at the creativity process. “I have been working on it for 3 and l/2 years. It took a worldwide search to find the 17 year old boy to play the lead.” Lee went on to describe the film as “an extraordinary story about hope, survival, spirituality and faith. It is hard to imitate G-d's work, but we are trying. Presently we are in the last 10% towards the completion of the film.”

Other clips included scenes from Prometheus, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Diary of A Wimpy Kid: Dog Days, Ice Age: Continental Drift, Won't Back Down, Taken 2 and a family comedy, Parental Guidance starring Billy Crystal, Bette Midler and Marisa Tomei, which is scheduled to open on Christmas.

We can also expect upcoming sequels to Planet of the Apes and The Wolverine and a remake of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty which will star Ben Stiller.

In the afternoon, Universal, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary, presented clips from its upcoming roster of films. Director Rupert Sanders, producer Joe Roth and stars Charlize Theron and Kristen Stewart were on hand to talk about Snow White and the Huntsmen (opening June 1) before showing some clips from the film.

Theron: “I was honored and saw great potential in his character (as he evil Queen). When I met the director, I said I must go “ball to the wall”. I wanted to be like Jack Nicholson in The Shining.  Meeting the director and producer was very encouraging. What was said in that meeting was delivered.”

Stewart: “After Twilight this seemed like the perfect thing for me. I got a feel and wanted to join the cause, although I never felt a connection with Snow White.”

Seth MacFarlane introduced footage from Ted, his film venture, that tells the story of a man (Mark Wahlberg) and his childhood gift, a Teddy bear, that comes to life.
MacFarlane said he enjoyed movies, as opposed to TV, because in movies, he could use as many "f***s" as he wanted.

Jeremy Renner was there to talk about The Bourne Legacy, a continuation of the franchise that shifts focus on a new character portrayed by Renner. The movie's tag line is “There never was just one”.

Renner stated, “I did my own stunts. Authenticity is really the key. I felt it would be cheating if I didn't do it. Learning and growing with Rachel Weicz (his co-star) was a great experience.”
There was recent footage of Universal's musical version of Les Miserables that took 37 years to transition from the classic on stage production to the big screen. Now in production, it stars Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter and Sasha Baron Cohen and is scheduled for released n December of 2012.   The audience at CinemaCon was the first ever to get a peak at footage from the first weeks of filming.  Director Cameron MacIntosh said the “singing (by Hathaway)was recorded live on the set as it was performed, not altered - raw and real.”

There were also clips from Judd Apatow's sequel to Knocked Up called This Is 40 (Christmas of 2012), 47 Ronin in 3D (February 2013), Oblivion starring Tom Crusie and Morgan Freeman which opens April 2013 and R.I.P.D. (Rest In Peace Department) starring Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds, plus the next installments of two big franchises, Fast and The Furious 6 and Despicable Me 2, in the Summer of 2013.

Oliver Stone, along with John Travolta, Salma Hayak and Taylor Kitsch, appeared on stage to help promote their movie, Savages, a powerful drama about a marijuana cartel. 
Travolta:  “I wanted to work with Oliver for 25 years. The film reminded me of Pulp Fiction in its style, but is more current, significant in this environment. I was really excited about this movie. The quality of the script is awesome. And the when I saw his casting, thought it was perfect.  I learned all my tricks from a DEA agent I was set up with.”

The four days of CinemaCon came to a close on Thursday night with the CinemaCon Big Screen Achievement Awards ceremony, hosted by Billy Bush followed by an after party at Caesars pool. The festivities began with the presentation of the Fandango Fan Choice Award for the favorite movie of 2011, The Help, as voted on by fans.

Sylvester Stallone kicked off the talent award ceremonies as the recipient of the Career Achievement Award. Other honorees were Male Star of the Year, Jeremy Renner; Female Star of the Year, Jennifer Garner; Distinguished Decade of Achievement in Film, Charlize Theron; Cinema Icon Award, Michelle Pfeiffer; Comedy Star of the Year, Anna Faris; Award of Excellence in Filmmaking, Judd Apatow; Male Star of Tomorrow, Taylor Kitsch; Female Star of Tomorrow, Chloë Grace Moretz; Breakthrough Performer of the Year, Josh Hutcherson and Rising Star of 2012, Diego Boneta.

Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson
Photo credit: Judy Thorburn

Judd Apatow
Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn

Anna Farris
Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn

Charlize Theron
Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn

Chloe Grace Moretz
Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn

Diego Boneta
Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn

Jennifer Garner
Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn

Jeremy Renner
Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn

Josh Hutcherson
Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn

Michelle Pfeiffer
Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn

Taylor Kitsch
Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn

CinemaCon 2012_Sylvester_Stallone_1
Sylvester Stallone
Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn


That about wraps it up. CinemaCon 2012 has come and gone, but not the celebration of movies.  Ask any movie goer.  Nothing compares to the fun and excitement of the movie going experience.  With the struggling economy effecting the masses,  it is great to know there is an affordable means of immersive entertainment most people can turn to. And now, thanks to the latest technological advances like 3D, high definition digital, a higher frame rate and top notch creative talent on both sides of the camera to amp up the believability,  audiences can journey into another world,  like never before. That, indeed, is something to celebrate.

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