CinemaCon 2023 is halfway through now with jam-packed presentations from Sony Pictures, Warner Bros., and Walt Disney Pictures setting a high bar. Universal Pictures is up next at CInemaCon 2023, and they’ve got an exciting variety of new films to exhibit. The official convention of the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO), CinemaCon has risen in great notoriety since it debuted in 2011. Every year studios, distributors, exhibitors, industry professionals, and more unite at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas to celebrate the communal moviegoing experience on the big screen and discuss the future. You can checkout this Wattmasters too
This is where all the big names – with Paramount Pictures and Lionsgate still left – present their upcoming slate of theatrical releases to actual theater owners. CinemaCon is not open to the public but fear not because DiscussingFilm is on the ground this year reporting the biggest announcements and reveals. Universal Pictures is next to give their presentation at CinemaCon and fans can expect a lot of exciting updates as they always deliver the goods. News related to major upcoming Universal releases like Oppenheimer, Fast X, and Migration (the next film from Illumination) is expected.
Exclusive footage and first-look reveals from CinemaCon are never released to the public, so that’s where we come in. Aside from listing huge updates, we’ll also be describing all exclusive footage shown to CinemaCon 2023 attendees. Stay tuned as we cover all the announcements and reveals from Universal Pictures’ CinemaCon 2023 presentation and make sure to follow along as we report the upcoming presentation from Paramount Pictures.
Universal Pictures Updates from CinemaCon 2023
Director: Louis Leterrier
Release Date: May 19, 2023
Exclusive Footage Description: An extended reel at Fast X was shown to CinemaCon 2023 attendees. Most of the footage was made up of previously released footage from the trailers and current promo for the film. The new notable additions gave a better idea of just much this franchise is continuing to push the bar of insanity. Michelle Rodriguez’s Letty is seen fighting Charlize Theron’s Cipher hand to hand in some kind of top-secret high-tech liar, the two throwing each other around until they find a huge triple laser beam device and try to use it on each other. John Cena as Jakob Toretto re-enters the story when he’s asked by Dom to protect his son Brian. When the action kicks off, Jakob and Brian ride in a sports car with rocket cannons.
Director: Christopher Nolan
Release Date: July 21, 2023
Exclusive Footage Description: CinemaCon 2023 was treated to a sizzle reel that showcased the sights and sounds of Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer. The footage includes Cillian Murphy, Robert Downey Jr., Matthew Modine, Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Josh Peck, and more of the film’s jam-packed cast ensemble as they go back and forth debating and arguing over the ethics of creating the world’s first atomic bomb. The footage switches between black-and-white and color, with the testing and creation of the bomb being in color and political table meetings being colorless. Oppenheimer’s main motivation is to beat the Nazis in creating the ultimate weapon, but at what cost? The IMAX aspect ratio makes a clear difference in telling this story, with even the most intimate conversations being felt in their intensity. The sound design was also immense and felt throughout, solidifying Oppenheimer as a big-screen experience.
Director: Benjamin Renner
Release Date: December 22, 2023
Exclusive Footage Description: CinemaCon got an exclusive look at Illumination’s next animated feature Migration, which puts a unique spin on the timeless road trip family comedy but with ducks. Kumail Nanjiani plays an overprotective father duck who’s afraid to leave the safety of the pond while Elizabeth Banks voices the more adventurous mother duck. The voice cast includes Awkwafina, Danny DeVito, and Keegan-Michael Key. The footage showed the conflict between the father and mother duck, leaving their two kids stuck in the middle. After the dad has an epiphany and decides to finally take his family on a migration, they realize the world is bigger than they could have ever imagined.
We see them in hilarious scenarios, like playing “cloud” ball fights in the sky and the youngest child wanting to stop to use the restroom even though the mother insists she just does it from the sky since they’re birds anyway. Their family road trip goes south when they venture into the city and get lost in all the chaos, almost getting hit in traffic and seeing cooked ducks in fancy restaurants. Danny DeVito plays the grandpa duck and Awkwafina plays a street pigeon from the city. The animation is very expressive as expected from Illumination and the story is very reminiscent of National Lampoon’s Vacation.
The Exorcist: Believer
Director: David Gordon Green
Release Date: October 13, 2023
Exclusive Footage Description: Universal and Blumhouse revealed the first-ever footage from David Gordon Green’s upcoming reimaging of The Exorcist. The film is now titled The Exorcist: Believer and is the first in a new confirmed trilogy coming to theaters. The Exorcist: Believer features the possession of not one but two children. Leslie Odom Jr. plays a father whose daughter and her best friend go missing for 3 days in the woods. The two young teenage girls become the victims of demonic possession, getting more facially deformed and monster-like as the days go by.
We see one of the girls interrupt a church session in the daytime while she walks down the middle aisle covered in blood and speaks in her terrifying demonic voice for the first time. Their makeup design is very similar to what Regan looked like in the original film, with yellow eyes, facial scars, and slime all over their face. Speaking of Regan, original actress Ellen Burstyn returns as her mother in the role of Chris MacNeil when Leslie Odrom Jr. reaches out to her for help. Given her history, Chris could be the key to bringing these girls back.
The iconic Exorcist theme kicks in and the two young girls go full demon mode. When Ellen Burstyn comes face to face with Odom Jr.’s daughter, she tells the demon inside her, “We’ve met before,” prompting a sinister smile and laugh from the demon. A montage begins showing more of the film’s horrifying scares, leading up to an at-home exorcism led by Chris MacNeil in the basement. The two girls are tied together and hooked up to heart monitors, and their two hearts begin to beat in sync in a creepy final shot of them giving monstrous yells.
Kung Fu Panda 4
Director: Mike Mitchell
Release Date: Spring 2024
New Details: Even though there’s no trailer for Kung Fu Panda 4 yet as it’s too early in the animation process, star Jack Black gave more details on the plot itself. Po will now be deciding who will be the next Dragon Warrior, as he’s receiving his own promotion as the highest master of the Valley of Peace. In planning his succession, Po meets a female Fox warrior named Chen. They don’t get along at first but must learn how to put their differences aside in order to travel into the city for the first time ever and face the Chameleon, a sorceress who can summon every single villain from past films back from the dead. Po and the next Dragon Warrior to be must face every single one of the franchise’s big baddies in order to defeat the Chameleon, who’s the most powerful of them all.
The Fall Guy
Director: David Leitch
Release Date: March 1, 2024
Exclusive Footage Description: CinemaCon 2023 got the very first exclusive look at The Fall Guy, director David Leitch’s (Deadpool 2, Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw) adaptation of the 1981 action-adventure television series of the same name. Leitch says the project hits close to home since the story gives an inside look into the life of hard-working stunt people. Ryan Gosling plays retired stunt performer Colt Seavers, who gets called back into the film industry by her ex-girlfriend (Emily Blunt) who’s about to direct her feature debut. Her feature is a Mad Max-like space opera led by the hottest action hunk in Hollywood (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and she needs Colt to be his stunt double. Gosling’s Colt is blonde with a dark beard, and he looks similar to Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s character, whose a total jerk and party freak.
Colt Seavers agrees in the hopes of possibly winning back his former lover. He’s hyped up on the set of the film by the assistant director (Winston Duke) as the best stuntman around. Blunt really puts him through the wringer with tough challenges on set, from getting flipped in cars to getting set on fire over and over again, as a petty way of getting back at him. There is clearly still some romantic tension between the two, making it hilariously awkward for everyone else on set. When Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s egotistical action star goes mysteriously missing, maybe due to his affiliations with the criminal underground, the feature film at hand is at huge risk of being shut down. Thus, Colt Seavers goes out of his way to go out and save him from Hollywood’s dirty underbelly in order to save the production and, ultimately, the relationship with his ex.
Furthermore, the footage revealed Hannah Waddingham’s character, Colt’s talent agent, and Stephanie Hsu’s role as what appears to be one of Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s party friends who’s involved in his disappearance. The Fall Guy feels noticeably different from David Leitch’s past work while still carrying his engaging comedic tone. The film goes back and forth between the world of the in-movie dystopian space opera and the ugly side of Hollywood, which makes for some awesome visuals. Ryan Gosling’s charisma is on full display and his take on Colt Seavers also allows him to let loose and be a bit more unserious at times as he embraces his love of being a stuntman. Overall, The Fall Guy could very well shape up to be David Leitch’s best film yet.
Director: Jon M. Chu
Release Date: November 27, 2024
Exclusive Footage Description: Although still very early in production, Universal Pictures ended their CinemaCon 2023 presentation with the first behind-the-scenes sizzle reel of director John M. Chu’s cinematic adaptation of the hit Broadway musical Wicked. The reel gave attendees a sense of the film’s humongous scale, with large immersive practical sets and stages being used in full force. This take on Oz carries the same technicolor feel as past adaptations, with the saturated color palette popping off from the screen. In terms of the production design, Wicked looks accurate to the classic The Wizard of Oz.
The entire cast ensemble was seen in their various whimsical costumes and make-up, including Cynthia Erivo as Elphaba Thropp, Ariana Grande as Glinda Upland, Jonathan Bailey as Fiyero Tigelaar, Jeff Goldblum as The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Michelle Yeoh as Madame Morrible, and Bowen Yang as Pfannee. Throughout most of the reel, Ariana Grande and Cynthia Erivo’s rendition of “Defying Gravity” can be heard and it sounds as powerful as fans would expect. The dynamic between Glinda and Elphaba was heavily talked about, with the two main stars having a blast bouncing off each other with their differing personalities.
John M. Chu spoke highly of the film’s practicality, claiming that the crew planted 9 million real multi-colored tulips in one set that featured the expansive landscape of Oz. Early VFX of the flying monkeys was shown as well. Wicked is by far the biggest project John M. Chu has tackled so far in his career and judging from this sizzle reel, he seems to be up to the task and operating on a whole different level. One thing is for sure, fans of the musical will be happily satisfied at the very least with Universal’s big-screen adaptation. Although some may still have mixed thoughts on Wicked being split into two parts, the epic fantasy scale of this project could justify two films.