From the looks of things, Paramount has been searching for its next blockbuster inside a Blockbuster.
Nostalgia ruled Thursday’s final day of CinemaCon at Caesars Palace as Arnold Schwarzenegger rattled off 35-year-old catchphrases to support yet another “Terminator” sequel, a manic Jim Carrey ran amok on the Colosseum stage to promote his “Sonic the Hedgehog” movie, and some of the loudest applause was reserved for brief looks at Eddie Murphy in “Coming 2 America” and Tom Cruise in “Top Gun: Maverick.”
Even “Dora and the Lost City of Gold,” the live-action tale that drew stars Eva Longoria and Michael Pena to the annual convention of the National Association of Theatre Owners, is based on a Nickelodeon cartoon that debuted all the way back in 2000.
Elsewhere, the last time Lionsgate brought a “John Wick” movie to CinemaCon, two knuckleheads inside the Colosseum got so excited they tried to track down Keanu Reeves for an autograph, left their bags unattended and triggered a bomb scare and evacuation. This time, the studio let Halle Berry, the franchise’s latest addition, do the talking while introducing one of the numerous cinematic bloodbaths from “John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum.”
“Stranger Things” star David Harbour, who plays the titular half-demon hero in Lionsgate’s “Hellboy,” had a little fun with the anti-streaming sentiment in the room. “It’s really nice when your day job is at Netflix to be invited to an event like this.”
The studio also brought out Jamie Lee Curtis and writer-director Rian Johnson (“Star Wars: The Last Jedi”) for his upcoming whodunit “Knives Out,” and Seth Rogen and Charlize Theron introduced a special screening of their romantic comedy, “Long Shot.”
Paramount made the most noise of the day, though, thanks in no small part to “Terminator: Dark Fate.”
the sequel pretends all the movies that followed “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” — “Rise of the Machines,” “Salvation” and whatever “Genisys” was supposed to be — never existed.
Director Tim Miller (“Deadpool”), who confirmed the November release is a direct sequel to “T2,” introduced a sneak peek that included the arrival of Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Conner before the cast took the stage. Schwarzenegger then went off-script — touching on everything from Hollywood to politics to climate change to the deep pockets of film financier David Ellison — before ensuring some of his less-experienced co-stars, who were only supposed to smile, had the chance to speak.
Ang Lee, who debuted the first footage of his Oscar-winning “Life of Pi” at CinemaCon in 2012, provided an early look at “Gemini Man.” The action drama stars Will Smith as a middle-aged special-ops type as well as the clone of his much younger self who’s trying to kill him. The special effects, similar to those used on Samuel L. Jackson in “Captain Marvel,” make the clone look as though he popped straight out of an episode of “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.”
And Elton John returned to the Colosseum stage — kind of — as Paramount showcased an extended look at the biopic “Rocketman.” Taron Egerton (the “Kingsman” movies) sings John’s catalog of hits while embodying the performer, who called the theater home during his residencies from 2004-09 and 2011-2018.
Egerton and director Dexter Fletcher, who took over when Bryan Singer was fired from “Bohemian Rhapsody,” were greeted by theater owners with nearly the same enthusiasm they showed for the footage.
“Rocketman” already looks better and far more ambitious than that Queen movie.
Not that either of those are exceptionally high bars to clear.
Contact Christopher Lawrence at email@example.com or 702-380-4567. Follow @life_onthecouch on Twitter.
UNLV duo’s short film to get big screen play
UNLV student filmmakers Nicolle Petersen and Lily Campisi didn’t win the Coca-Cola Regal Films Contest, but they won’t exactly walk away empty-handed.
The duo, one of five teams of finalists in the national student competition, will have their short film, “The Big Wish,” played on each of the more than 7,000 screens operated by the nation’s second-largest theater chain beginning this summer.
The winning team, from the Savannah College of Art and Design, was announced Thursday in conjunction with the final day of CinemaCon.