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CinemaCon kicks off with blockbuster talent at Caesars

Killer clowns and a foul-mouthed Helen Mirren took center stage Tuesday during the first full day of CinemaCon at Caesars Palace.

The initial footage of Joaquin Phoenix in the comic-book origin story “Joker” debuted during Warner Bros.’ portion of the annual convention of the National Association of Theatre Owners.

The adult members of The Losers Club — including Jessica Chastain, Bill Hader and James McAvoy — joined all but one of their young counterparts on the Colosseum stage to present an exclusive look at “IT Chapter Two.”

But it was Mirren — DAME Helen Mirren — who took the early lead as the gathering’s MVP by telling the assembled movie theater representatives, “I love Netflix, but (expletive) Netflix.”

The relatively new studio STX, which focuses on small to midsize movies (“Bad Moms,” “The Upside”), kicked off the presentations by showcasing some of its blockbuster-level talent.

Chadwick Boseman and Dave Bautista — roughly 0.3 percent of the potential “Avengers: Endgame” cast — teased their new projects, both of which offered them the opportunity to produce.

The “Black Panther” star has the lead role in the police drama “21 Bridges,” but Boseman said he was most excited about the fact that it’s his first chance to see a project through from beginning to end. Bautista, the “Guardians of the Galaxy” breakout, touted his upcoming family comedy/action hybrid “My Spy” days before he’s scheduled to hit the ring at WrestleMania.

Charlie Hunnam and “Crazy Rich Asians” heartthrob Henry Golding presented footage from Guy Ritchie’s bespoke action drama “The Gentlemen.”

Diane Keaton introduced scenes from the comedy “Poms,” in which she plays a woman who moves into a retirement community and forms a competitive cheerleading squad. Keaton then hiked up her skirt to show her knees, which she claimed were too skinny to support her real-life cheerleading ambitions.

The strangest interaction from the STX session, though, came from Grammy winners and “UglyDolls” voiceover co-stars Kelly Clarkson and Pitbull. The former announced that she’d forgotten to apply deodorant that morning, so she borrowed some of Mr. Worldwide’s signature cologne to spruce up her pits. The latter, speaking of the animated musical’s appeal to children, declared, “I have kids of a lot of different ages, and I’m looking for more if anybody wants to be a candidate.”

Get those two together with Mirren, who was there on behalf of her Warner Bros. thriller “The Good Liar,” and you’d have yourself a party.

The world premiere of those scenes from “Joker” — which looks Joaquin Phoenix-y in the best possible way — was part of sneak peeks at upcoming D.C. titles including “Wonder Woman 1984” and “Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn).”

Warner Bros. also brought out Melissa McCarthy and Tiffany Haddish for the hard-boiled crime drama “The Kitchen,” played first-look footage of the three-headed Ghidorah battling the giant lizard in “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” and focused on its upcoming horror titles “Annabelle Comes Home” and “Doctor Sleep,” the sequel to “The Shining.”

As expected, streaming services were on the minds of many Tuesday, although their thoughts were less raucously received than Mirren’s.

John Fithian, the president and CEO of NATO, threw some shade at Netflix. “A robust theatrical release provides a level of prestige to a movie that cannot be replicated.”

Charles Rivkin, the chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, the trade organization Netflix recently joined, opened the day by reminding the theater owners and employees, “we’ve been hearing about our demise for more than a century.”

He then rattled off a list of everything from “talkies” and color movies — both of which audiences were expected to reject — to television and VCRs as previously declared death knells for the industry.

Contact Christopher Lawrence at clawrence@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4567. Follow @life_onthecouch on Twitter.

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