At this year’s CinemaCon, held at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Warner Bros. showcased footage from five of its upcoming cinematic lineups including Black Adam, Wonka, The Flash, Elvis and Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom. CinemaCon is the annual convention hosted by the National Association of Theatre Owners.
As The Hollywood Reported notes, Warner Bros. came to Las Vegas to put on a show, and delivered by relying on a parade of stars, from Black Adam’s Dwayne Johnson (crowned Entertainment Icon of the Decade) to an animated Baz Luhrmnan, as well as some of the biggest upcoming films from the studio. “Black Adam is one of the things in my life that gets me out of bed,” Johnson told the crowd before a clip from the film was shown. “I think the hierarchy of the DC universe is about to change.” Prior to this, Warners also shared the news of Matt Reeves returning with Robert Pattinson for blockbuster hit The Batman’s sequel Tuesday from the CinemaCon stage.
That announcement was followed by exclusive looks at Black Adam, Elvis, Wonka, The Flash, Shazam! Fury of the Gods, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, Salem’s Lot and Don’t Worry Darling along with appearances by Reeves, Olivia Wilde, James Wan, Helen Mirren, Zachary Levi, and more ready to dominate the theatrical marketplace. Warners also prepared an extensive Q&A round for its feature biopic Elvis, featuring helmer Luhrmann and later joined by his star Austin Butler. “I love biopic[s], this is not really a biopic,” he said. “It’s really about America in the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s. At the center of culture, for the good, the bad and the ugly, it was Elvis Presley.” Directed by Luhrmann, Elvis casts Butler in the title role as the King of Rock ‘n Roll. The film also stars Tom Hanks as Colonel Tom Parker and is weeks away from its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival.
Luhrmann shared that the narrative unfolds through the prism of Tom Parker, played by Hanks, someone he joked about was a newcomer. “He’s a bit nervy and stuff, I had to coach him a lot to get him out of his shell,” he quipped. Then he got serious with compliments: “I have worked with everyone, all sorts of icons and my god, Tom Hanks — the Rolls Royce of actors.” Butler was also asked about his experience of portraying the music legend. “The main thing was I set out to find was his humanity. He’s one of those individuals that has been lifted up to such an iconic status that he’s almost superhuman,” said Butler. Luhrmann praised Reeves and The Batman and said that he also thinks of his film as a superhero film.
Timothee Chalamet’s much-anticipated Wonka also showcased an exclusive footage from the film that debuts on December 15, 2023. The film stars Chalamet as the titular character created by author Roald Dahl and played by Gene Wilder in the classic Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (1971). Paul King serves as director with Rowan Atkinson, Sally Hawkins, Keegan-Michael Key and Olivia Colman also starring. “Is everybody ready,” Chalamet’s Wonka says via voiceover in the opening moments which show a younger Wonka as he is a burgeoning chocolate maker.
A brief trailer for The Flash debuted as well. The biggest reaction came towards the end of the clip, when Ezra Miller’s Flash asks the question “Are you in?” Then Michael Keaton is seen sans mask but in his Batman suit, with grayish hair, who retorts in his deadpan style: “You wanna get nuts? Let’s get nuts.” Due out in June 2023, The Flash hero Miller was first cast in 2014 for Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Andy Muschietti is set to helm one of the longest gestating DC projects. The film marks Keaton’s first-time playing Batman since 1992’s Batman Returns, while Ben Affleck also reprises his role as The Dark Knight for the film that deals with multiple timelines. As THR report mentions, the project will also introduce Supergirl, played by Sasha Calle.
The report also notes a brief look at the Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, which featured Jason Momoa as the watery superhero and a menacing Black Manta, played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II. Director James Wan said advanced special effects allowed him to advance as a filmmaker and spare the actors from hanging from painful wires by using dozens of cameras to create 3D characters. The Aquaman sequel also stars Amber Heard and Patrick Wilson and opens on March 17, 2023. Then followed Wan’s next feature Salem’s Lot, a Stephen King adaptation that centers on a writer who returns to a Maine town where he lived in his youth only to discover its residents are becoming vampires. Wan serves as the producer for the film, which is set to bow in September 2022, and boasts Gary Dauberman as the director. Lewis Pullman stars as the lead character Ben Mears with Spencer Treat Clark, William Sadler, Pilou Asbaek, Alfre Woodard and Bill Camp rounding out the cast.
Next footage was introduced by Zachary Levi and cast members of the Shazam! sequel, Shazam! Fury of the Gods, a film that centers on a teenager named Billy Batson (Asher Angel) who transforms into an adult superhero and gets help from his friend and foster brother Freddie Freeman (Jack Dylan Grazer). “We didn’t want to veer from the magic of first,” said Levi. Angel and Grazer, along with new cast member Helen Mirren, who plays a gold-costumed Hespera, a daughter of Atlantis, joined Levi on stage. As the new member of the “most wonderful crazy family,” Mirren said her character is one “who believes she is right, as most villains and villainesses do.” She added, “I’m not sure how much I’m allowed to talk about it.” The sequel also stars Lucy Liu as Kalypso. David F. Sandberg returns to direct the film which opens on December 16, 2022, opposite 20th Century’s Avatar 2, the anticipated sequel to the biggest film of all time.
Following her 2019 directorial debut Booksmart, Olivia Wilde returned to CinemaCon as helmer of Don’t Worry Darling, a psychological thriller starring Florence Pugh, Harry Styles, Wilde, Chris Pine, Gemma Chan, KiKi Layne and Nick Kroll. “What would it take for you to give up your life, to do what is right? That is the question of Don’t Worry Darling,” Wilde said, introducing an exclusive look at the film’s first trailer as she saluted the exhibitors “who fought so hard to keep the movie business alive.” Due out on September 23, Wilde described the film as a “love letter” to movies like The Matrix and Inception, she said that in Pugh’s performance “you are seeing the birth of a full-fledged movie star” and called Styles “a revelation.” She quipped, “I am also in the movie because I was the only one we could afford when we go that that point.”
As THR reports, Dwayne Johnson, first tested the crowd by opening via video claiming that he was in Hawaii before ditching the routine by saying “fuck this.” He then went into the Colosseum to huge cheers as he walked to the stage and greeted convention delegates. “I could not miss this. You can feel the energy in our business. You can feel the lift, the tailwind in our business. We are reinvesting in bringing the theatrical experience back,” he said. “We all took our hits with COVID and supply chain dynamics and dysfunction and it feels like we are on the other end of it, working our way through it.”
Johnson was on hand to promote two DC movies – Black Adam and DC League of Super Pets. He presented a new Super Pets trailer, which introduces “inseparable best friends Krypto the Super-Dog (Johnson) and Superman (John Krasinski). But when Superman is kidnapped from their Metropolis apartment, Krypto teamed up with canine companion Ace (Kevin Hart) and their friends in the rescue mission.” The film hits theaters on July 29 boasting a star-studded cast of Vanessa Bayer, Natasha Lyonne, Diego Luna, Marc Maron, Kate McKinnon, Keanu Reeves and more.
Black Adam marks Dwayne Johnson’s first time playing a comic book protagonist, who in the comics started as a villain of Shazam! The also stars Pierce Brosnan as Doctor Fate, Aldis Hodge as Hawkman, Noah Centineo as Atom Smasher and Quintessa Swindell as Cyclone. Johnson reteamed with Jungle Cruise director Jaume Collet-Serra for the feature, which has a release date of October 21. Johnson welcomed Centineo and Swindell to the stage prior to debuting the exclusive trailer and never-before-seen footage. The film featured Johnson’s character catching a rocket with his bare hand and threatening others in a fight. Responding to a character who says “heroes don’t kill people,” Johnson’s character declares, “Well I do.”
Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich returned to the stage to present him with the Entertainment Icon of the Decade trophy, calling Johnson the best partner a movie studio could have and noted that with his 50th birthday coming on May 2, “The best is yet to come.” Johnson said, “It’s always a team effort and we all play a pivotal, critical role in all that we do. We all have done business together over the years and we’ve made some good money which is always important and more important than that, we have entertained and made people feel good all over the world.”