That is Jordan Peele on whether he was about to present new footage of his Universal Pictures film today at CinemaCon. It’s also the title of his new horror entry, and the maestro has always loved keeping the mystery surrounding his projects like Us and Get Out intact before audiences get to experience the ride.
“The discovery and the surprise of it is part of the fun,” Peele said at a brief Q&A, during which he was joined on the Colosseum stage inside Caesars Palace by Anthony Fykes of Next Act Cinema in Pikesville, Maryland. His is the first Black-owned theater in the Baltimore area. (Universal paired talent during each presentation with exhibition insiders as a way to honor their contributions in keeping doors open.) “Trailers will give you a taste, but we want to retain some of the mystery, so you can be satisfied going to the damn movie.”
Twist! He was only joking about holding back the footage. Minutes later, he presented an extended trailer that shed more light on the extra-terrestrial storyline. However, Peele did ask the audience (filled with 3,000 or so exhibition insiders) to be discreet and not reveal any detail as it won’t be seen by the rest of the world “for several more weeks.”
His request will be honored here. What can be revealed is that he shot the film in 65 mm and IMAX, technology that allowed him to “capture incredible images” with new techniques that he says have never been seen. “This is definitely a ride. I like titles that are into how the audience is feeling and reflect on what they are thinking and feeling in the theater,” Peele explained. “I’m going to personally thrive on the amount of times that we hear ‘Nope’ in the theater.”
Opening July 2 from Uni and Blumhouse, Nope marks Peele’s third film with the studio. It also reps a reunion with Oscar-winner Daniel Kaluuya, who became an A-list performer after starring in Peele’s Get Out. Keke Palmer, Steven Yeun, Barbie Ferreira, Brandon Perea and Michael Wincott also star in the film. Details are guarded on plot, but what is known is that it involves an unidentified flying object and a Black-owned ranch that caters to Hollywood productions.
Universal’s full CinemaCon slate presentation featured a wide range of Hollywood productions with the full list including Nope, Halloween Ends, M3GAN, Beast, Easter Sunday, Distant, Demeter, Minions, Bros, Ticket to Paradise, She Said, Violent Night, Puss in Boots and Jurassic World: Dominion. Studio label Focus Features also presented Tár, Armageddon Time, Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris and Downtown Abbey: A New Era. (See THR’s separate coverage of Focus here.)
Peele was followed by a lively appearance from “OG” horror icon, Jamie Lee Curtis. She walked to center stage accompanied by 19-year-old twin sisters Emily and Mikaela Silerio, guest attendants at Alamo Drafthouse at the Stone Oak, San Antonio, Texas. “What’s up, CinemaCon,” exclaimed Curtis, who pointed out the two people who gave her a standing ovation. “Oh, whatever, it’s only been 44 fucking years. I’m fine, I’m secure. It’s all good!”
Curtis seemed more than good, even through happy tears, while proudly presenting the final installment of her work in the Halloween franchise, bringing an end to her bloody battles with Michael Myers over five decades. Fittingly titled Halloween Ends, the film also concludes a trilogy that began with 2018’s Halloween, the legacy sequel to John Carpenter’s 1978 classic.
David Gordon Green once again directs, with Curtis reprising the role of Laurie Strode. Andi Matichak stars as Laurie’s granddaughter, Alysson, with the two working to stop Myers for good. The film debuts Oct. 14
“It’s been the ride of my life to portray Laurie Strode,” she said with her eyes welling up. She said that she now has an answer for why horror movies matter. “Horror lets us confront what we can’t control.”
She promised it would do more than that. “Trust me, it’s going to fuck you up,” she said before nodding to her current film, Everything Everywhere All at Once. “You people are the first people anywhere, everywhere all at once to get a first look at what happens when Laurie Strode and Michael Myers meet for the final time.”
Peele and Curtis came to the stage after opening remarks from Universal Filmed Entertainment chairman Donna Langley and president of domestic theatrical distribution Jim Orr. Langley promised exhibitors that when studio heads talk about the “magic of movies” at CinemaCon, it isn’t an empty platitude.
“It’s why we are all here today. We have never lost our awareness of all the hours spent to get us back here today. To everyone who showed up and got films back in the theater and made the experience safe, especially in times of fear, I truly thank you,” said Langley.
Orr said Universal is releasing more than 20 films this year, more than any other studio. He promised the studio is building a diverse slate that features originals alongside big franchises. “Tastes change, heroes come and go, but personal stories and ideas is what will always stand the test of time,” said Orr.
Below are highlights from other portions of the program.
• Uni presented an exclusive look at Minions: The Rise of Gru. Based on the popular yellow pill-shaped characters from Illumination Entertainment, the sequel follows 2015’s Minions and is the fifth movie in the Despicable Me franchise, which has grossed $3.7 billion worldwide box office. Opening July 1, the story features a 12-year-old Gru, again voiced by Steve Carell, who appeared on stage.
Carell and co-presenter Everod Allen, general manager at Cineplex Winston Churchill Theatre in Oakville, Ontario, Canada, had a hilarious exchange. Carell taught him the secret of doing the voice of Gru, which he described as “Greek, a little Swedish, perhaps some German.”
Using Gru voices, the pair introduced the footage, which opened with Minions as the pilot and co-pilot of an airplane, and they immediately cause chaos as they take off. The trailer concludes with a bumpy landing in San Francisco.
• Jurassic World: Dominion closed the lengthy 2.5-hour program courtesy of stars Jeff Goldblum and Bryce Dallas Howard and additional footage beyond what has been revealed. The pair got a hearty welcome to the stage from David Quincer, owner of Starlite Drive-In Theater, Litchfield, Minnesota. Dominion is billed as the conclusion to the six-film franchise that began with 1993’s Jurassic Park, and it reunites original stars Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum, who share the screen with Jurassic World mainstays Chris Pratt and Howard.
Colin Trevorrow directs after helming the first installment in 2015. Universal has set a date of June 10 date for the project. Goldblum and Howard delivered on the banter, jumping around from topics that included praising Steven Spielberg, proclaiming their love of movies, and teasing the action sequences of Dominion.
“Going to movie theaters [has] been the most romantic and magical times of my life,” said Goldblum revealing that his sons, ages 6 and 7, have yet to see a movie in a theater but he plans to bring them to Dominion for their first outing. “I think with this next Jurassic movie, we’ve got something very, very special. It really rings the bell.”
• The studio also screened work in progress of DreamWorks Animation’s Puss in Boots; The Last Wish, the sequel to 2011’s Puss in Boots and spinoff following the suave, Antonio Banderas-voiced character from the Shrek franchise. The 2011 movie made $555 million at the worldwide box office and earned an Oscar nomination for best animated feature. (The character Puss in Boots also produced a spinoff series).
The unfinished trailer — introduced by Harry Guillen, who voices Perro, a chihuahua — showed Puss in Boots with a new band of villains in hot pursuit. The voice cast includes Salma Hayek returning as Kitty Softpaws, Olivia Colman as Mama Bear, John Mulaney as “Big” Jack Horner, Wagner Moura as the Big Bad Wolf and Florence Pugh as Goldilocks. This week, Universal pushed the movie from a Sept. 23 release to Dec. 21, replacing Illumination’s Mario movie.
• The studio rolled out the first trailer for the George Clooney and Julia Roberts-starrer Ticket to Paradise. See THR’s coverage.
• Another first-look came courtesy of Bros, the Nicholas Stoller-direcdted film starring Billy Eichner and featuring the first studio film featuring an all-LGBTQ cast. See THR’s coverage.
• Uni unveiled a first look at She Said, the upcoming drama based on the true story of Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times journalists Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey as they investigated sexual misconduct claims against Harvey Weinstein. Star Carey Mulligan was on hand to introduce the trailer. See THR’s coverage.
• Describing Easter as a “day of chaos” and a “Flipino’s favorite day,” comedian Joy Koy gave a hilarious introduction to the trailer for his comedy Easter Sunday, in which he stars as a fictional Koy at an Easter Sunday family gathering. “It’s about a mother with a family that just happens to be Filipino. We’re all the same. … We all laugh at the same things.”
The trailer includes scenes from dinner, karaoke and even a car chase. Opening Aug. 5, the cast includes Tiffany Haddish, Lydia Gaston, Jimmy O. Yang, Tia Carrere, Brandon Wardell, Lou Diamond Phillips and helmer Jay Chandrasekhar.
• Valerie Lucas from a Marcus Theatre in Oakdale, Minnesota, took the stage with actress Allison Williams, who is the lead in the upcoming horror pic M3GAN. Williams said she was surprised to be starring in another horror pic. “I’m genuinely too scared to watch 99 percent of the films in the genre,” said the Get Out star, adding how great it was to reunite with Peele backstage.
The actress then introduced exclusive footage from M3GAN. The Blumhouse and Atomic Monster film is based on a story by the master of horror James Wan that stars Williams as Gemma, a brilliant roboticist working at a toy company who creates a lifelike doll. When she gains custody of her orphaned niece, she uses the prototype of the doll with unimaginable consequences. The footage, which drew loud applause, showed how quickly things can go wrong and how diabolical and murderous a seemingly innocent robotic doll can become.
• Christopher Jones, general manager of the Harkins Theatres Chino Hills 18 in Chino Hills, California, introduced Stranger Things star David Harbour to introduce the first-ever footage rolled out of Violent Night. Directed by Tommy Wirkola from a script by Pat Casey and Josh Miller, the film also stars John Leguizamo, Cam Gigandet, Edi Patterson and Beverly D’Angelo. It opens Dec. 2.
The story follows a team of elite mercenaries who attack a wealthy family compound on Christmas Eve, taking everyone inside hostage. However, the team isn’t prepared when Santa Claus arrives. The Chrismas icon is played by Harbour, who said he’s a fan of escape movies that also make you sweat. And Violent Night looked to fit that bill. “You better not cry, you better not pout, I’m telling you why because Santa Claus is coming to town. Let’s fucking go,” Harbour said with an exclamation point.
• A trailer debut showed off Beast, a survival thriller from filmmaker Baltasar Kormakur starring Idris Elba. The footage shows Elba’s character on an African adventure with his wife and daughters when the situation turns desperate, and they are hunted by a lion. We see the family going from smiling and happy to the car being overturned and Elba’s character doing everything he can to save his family.
• Another trailer featured Last Voyage of the Demeter from filmmaker André Øvredal. Dated January 27, 2023, it stars David Dastmalchian, Aisling Franciosi, Liam Cunningham, Corey Hawkins, Javier Botet, Jon Jon Briones and more in a story based on a single chapter from Bram Stoker’s classic novel Dracula. It follows a merchant ship called Demeter on a voyage from Carpathia to London. Strange events befall the doomed crew as they attempt to survive the ocean voyage.
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