"The Secret Life of Walter Mitty"

Last year at CinemaCon, 20th Century Fox previewed very early footage for Ang Lee’s Life of Pi. Attendees at the presentation were floored, and the buzz on all the blogs was that Pi was an Oscar contender. Some argued that April was too early to be calling for possible Oscar contenders, and they were probably right. We all know how that turned out.

This year Fox arrived in Vegas bearing another special preview: between fifteen and twenty minutes of the Ben Stiller-directed The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. (Stiller also stars.) Again, it’s April, it’s too early to make such claims, but the Oscar buzz has begun.

After the jump you can read my thoughts on the footage screened from Mitty, or watch a video blog I recorded with Alex from Firstshowing talking about presentations of footage from The Wolverine, Epic, How to Train Your Dragon 2 and Walking With Dinosaurs: The Movie.
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Monsters University Mike
Sometimes movie studios come to CinemaCon (formerly ShoWest) to screen early cuts of their films. Dreamworks Animation came to Vegas in 2008 with an early cut of Kung Fu Panda with temp score and sequences of storyboards or unfinished rendered animation. A few years back Disney arrived at the convention with an early cut of Toy Story 3, with unfinished animation and lighting. Both of those worked out well enough.

This year Disney was confident enough in the latest Pixar effort to bring it to the convention. On the surface, Monsters University doesn’t seem like much of a gamble. It’s a sequel (errr prequel) to a blockbuster film from years ago, which brings beloved furry and one eyed franchise characters back to the screen. But the movie is very different from the original.

See spoiler-free video and written reactions, after the jump.

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RIPD

Day 2 at CinemaCon began with a presentation from Universal Pictures.

Last year Universal arrived in Las Vegas with many goods — even previewing footage from films in production for only a few days — showcasing their line-up up until December 2013. This year they came to CnemaCon with a more conservative approach, screening footage only from their slate scheduled through this summer.

After the presentation I receorded a video blog with Alex from FirstShowing, giving our brief reactions to footage screened from R.I.P.D., Despicable Me 2 and Fast & Furious 6. Watch the video blog embedded after the jump.

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PAIN AND GAIN

It’s that time of year again. We’re in Las Vegas at CinemaCon, an industry-only convention (formerly called ShoWest) for movie theater owners and distributors. The Hollywood studios come here each year with their biggest stars and clips from upcoming films, hoping to impress the theater owners into booking their “products” in the coming year. For example, last year we saw footage from films that were in production and weren’t set to be released until late 2013. Some studios also present unfinished cuts of their films super-early. This year Pixar is screening Monsters University, for example.

The opening night of CinemaCon 2013 featured a presentation by Paramount Pictures. They screened a reel with brief clips from a ton of upcoming films including Darren Aroofsky’s Noah and Jason Reitman’s Labor Day. They also presented 18 minutes of Star Trek Into Darkness in 3D, three clips from World War Z, and Michael Bay premiered his film Pain & Gain. After the jump you will be able to read my first reaction to Bay’s latest, along with a video blog I recorded with Alex from FirstShowing giving our thoughts about everything screened.
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matt-damon-elysium-first-look
Sony held an event today in four cities across the world to launch to buzz for District 9 director Neill Blomkamp‘s new film Elysium. Fans in the four cities were invited to the event through the film’s viral website. Blomkamp, producer Simon Kinberg and co-star Sharlto Copley were in attendance at the Arclight Cinemas in Hollywood to answer questions.

Star Matt Damon also answered questions from a theater in Germany, with his appearance also simulcast to the other venues. The event was to premiere the first trailer for Elysium, which will be online tomorrow at some point. But the filmmakers also screened a 10-minute sizzle reel of footage from the movie. Get our thoughts on the footage in a video blog we recorded, after the jump.

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World War Z Forster Pitt

“I wanted to make a film my sons could actually see before they get old,” said Brad Pitt, talking about his upcoming zombie film, World War Z. “As you will see, we got a little carried away.” Pitt was on the Paramount lot last week, along with director Marc Forster, to introduce 20 minutes of footage from the June 21 release.

The actor, who is also a producer, spoke about what they were trying to do with the movie. ”In Max Brooks’ book we found much more than a zombie film. We found this global apocalypse,” Pitt said. “This zombie epidemic as worldwide pandemic.” That massive scope was certainly on display in the footage, which featured Pitt’s character separating from his family to travel the world, hoping to figure out the source of the rising zombie apocalypse. Oh, and also rising walls of vicious zombies.

After the footage, Forster took questions from a handful of journalists, many of which were aimed at the film’s controversial production. The process saw massive reshoots and rewrites. He admitted that, yes, the ending had been changed but that they were very happy with the result.

After the jump, read more about the footage itself, watch a video blog reacting to the footage, and read more from Forster about the ending, how the film goes against zombie conventions and more. Read More »

Now that the final Iron Man 3 trailer is out, do you find yourself craving even more? How about some details on 15 minutes of footage taken from the film? Disney showed two complete scenes, in context, to journalists a few weeks back and we’re finally ready to tell you about it.

We were shown the entire Malibu house attack, from beginning to end, followed by its immediate effect on Tony Stark, played by Robert Downey Jr. It’s an action-packed scene characterized by scope you’ve come to expect from Marvel, with plenty of surprises. We’ll save those for a spoiler section but, after the jump, read some thoughts and watch a spoiler-free video blog. In it, Steve from Collider and I discuss how, in this brief slice of Shane Black‘s May 3rd film, we get an idea of what Phase 2 will hold, and how the writer of Lethal Weapon and The Last Boy Scout is putting his mark on the Marvel Universe.

Later this week, check back later this week for interviews with Black, Robert Downey Jr., and Marvel President Kevin Feige. Read More »

With three days remaining, A.C.O.D. is my favorite film of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. Directed by first-timer Stuart Zicherman, it’s about “Adult Children of Divorce” and stars Adam Scott as Carter, a man whose parents (Richard Jenkins and Catherine O’Hara) had a brutal breakup on his 9th birthday. Decades later his brother (Clark Duke) decides to take the plunge into matrimony and it brings up some major issues caused by the traumatic breakup. Amy Poehler, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jessica Alba and Jane Lynch are also along for the ride.

Co-written by Zicherman and Ben Karlin, the script for A.C.O.D. is a Swiss watch. Everything is economical, hilarious, perfectly-paced and never in-your-face obvious. There are loads of big laughs wrapped around unexpected plot points, resonant emotion and great character development. The cast all bring such vigorous life to the film that it almost makes a sad and touchy subject, divorce, into something to be envious of.

A.C.O.D. is a special, miraculous film and the exact reason why you come to the Sundance Film Festival. It’ll leave you happy and high on the power of comedic cinema. Read more after the jump and watch a video blog. Read More »

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