Warner Bros. brings out stars at CinemaCon

Updated April 25, 2018 - 5:50 pm

Disney let footage of its upcoming movies do the talking on Day Two of CinemaCon at Caesars Palace while Warner Bros. brought so many celebrities to the Colosseum stage, many of them barely had a chance to speak.

Warner’s afternoon of A-list mayhem has become something of a tradition at the annual convention of the National Association of Theater Owners. Before attendees had time to fully register the fact that, say, Channing Tatum was onstage with his co-stars Zendaya and Common touting their animated movie, “Smallfoot,” they were whisked away and replaced by Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett and director Andy Serkis showing footage of “Mowgli,” their take on Rudyard Kipling’s “The Jungle Book.”

Bradley Cooper actually took time to have a conversation with host Will Arnett about his directorial debut, the remake of “A Star Is Born” in which Cooper shares the screen with Lady Gaga, before introducing the first trailer for the movie. But for the most part, the stars — who are whisked in from the airport to a red carpet before being sent out onstage to mumble a sound bite or two, wave, and head straight back to McCarran — might as well have been on a conveyor belt.

Among the dizzying array of talent pitching scenes from their latest projects were Sandra Bullock, Blanchett again, Anne Hathaway, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson and Awkwafina from “Ocean’s 8”; the primal beast known as “Aquaman” star Jason Momoa; “Life of the Party’s” Melissa McCarthy; Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner, Ed Helms and Hannibal Buress from the based-on-a-true-story comedy “Tag”; Eddie Redmayne, Ezra “The Flash” Miller and most of the core cast of “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald”; and actors including “Fresh Off the Boat’s” Constance Wu from “Crazy Rich Asians,” the first major Hollywood release with a primarily Asian cast since 1993’s “The Joy Luck Club.”

Disney, meanwhile, continues to mine its vaults for remakes, updates and sequels. After more than a little chest-thumping over its recent successes, executives bypassed celebrities and headed straight for footage, featurettes and behind-the-scenes looks at its live-action versions of the Winnie the Pooh story “Christopher Robin,” “The Lion King,” “Dumbo,” “Mary Poppins Returns” and “Aladdin” starring Will Smith as the Genie.

In other sequel and spinoff news, Disney offered up the scene where Thor meets the Guardians of the Galaxy from this weekend’s “Avengers: Infinity War,” the opening scenes from June’s “Incredibles 2” and the holy grail of backstories: footage of Han (Alden Ehrenreich) meeting Lando (Donald Glover) and playing sabacc for the pink slip to the Millennium Falcon in May’s “Solo: A Star Wars Story.”

STX, the four-year-old studio behind the “Bad Moms” movies and Amy Schumer’s “I Feel Pretty,” wrapped up the night with a presentation featuring Jennifer Garner (the action movie “Peppermint”), Shailene Woodley and Sam Claflin (the lost-at-sea drama “Adrift”) and Mark Wahlberg, Ronda Rousey and “The Walking Dead’s” Lauren Cohan (the action-thriller “Mile 22”).

Some thoughts on the day:

— “A Star Is Born” looks, and sounds, far more promising than you’d expect.

— There wasn’t a single laugh in the footage from McCarthy’s “Life of the Party.”

— Tim Burton’s “Dumbo” sequel — starring Danny DeVito, Michael Keaton and Colin Farrell — feels magical.

— Disney’s “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms,” due out Nov. 2, already has me planning to take that week off so I don’t have to see it.

— “Shazam!,” which stars Zachary Levi of TV’s “Chuck” and is being described as “Big” meets “Superman,” appears godawful. There’s no way that can share a universe with the rest of the DC movies.

— “Mowgli” doesn’t seem capable of emerging from the shadow of Disney’s live-action “The Jungle Book.”

— And if the rest of “Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2” is one-tenth as uproariously funny as the self-deprecating, Adult Swim-style scene in which Sarah Silverman’s Vanellope hangs out with virtually every Disney princess, I’ll never, ever stop watching it.

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

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