Sony CinemaCon 2017 Presentation: 'Blade Runner 2049,' 'The Dark Tower,' 'Jumanji,' 'Spider-Man: Homecoming' & More

Every year in March, movie theater exhibitors gather in Las Vegas for CinemaCon, a convention spotlighting the newest advances in multiplex technologies and presentations from most of the major movie studios showcasing their film slates for the next year and beyond.

Tonight, CinemaCon kicked off with a presentation from Sony Pictures, showing off new footage and trailers for Spider-Man: Homecoming, Blade Runner 2049, The Dark Tower, Jumanji, Baby Driver, Flatliners, Cadavers and Rough Night. Read on for our Sony CinemaCon 2017 presentation recap to learn what was screened and to hear our first impressions and reactions.

Sony CinemaCon 2017 Presentation Video Reaction

After the Sony CinemaCon 2017 presentation, I broadcast a live video blog with Steve Weintraub from Collider on Periscope. You can watch a recording of that broadcast embedded above. We talk about the Spider-Man: Homecoming trailer (which just arrived online) in the video above.

Baby Driver

Baby Driver

The presentation started with a bang in the shape of a clip from Edgar Wright's Baby Driver. They screened the opening action sequence, which follows our heroes as they attempt to rob a bank and the car chase that ensues. Ansel Elgort stars as Baby, the getaway driver who likes to listen to music on his iPod while on a job. The trio leaves to rob the bank, leaving Baby at the wheel, rocking out to his music and the scene isedited almost like a music video. It's revealed that the bank robbery has gone wrong, and the group runs out into the waiting car. What follows is a car chase sequence, cut to a loud musical score.

Edgar Wright is showing off his cinematic flourishes here. We see some awesome drifting, including some kick-ass moments from the trailer. The chase follows the group onto a freeway where they are pursued by multiple cop cars and a helicopter. I won't ruin how the sequence ends, but it's very clever. The footage was a lot of fun, and I can't wait to see more.

After the clip, the cast and Wright appeared on stage. Elgort said that the music we hear in the film is all the music his character is listening to on stolen iPods. Sometimes, the music perfectly fits the action; sometimes it plays ironically. All of the songs were written into the original screenplay.

Wright says he wanted to show the fantasy and nightmare of being in a high-speed chase, noting that he found out it was very tough to film a movie filled with car chases while making his car chase movie. He would follow in a command van during the filming of the chase sequences, and the filmmaker said the satellite feed would sometimes cut out, so he eventually strapped himself to the outside of the car "for the love" of his art. He advised the theater filled with theater owners to play the sound in his movie "one louder."

Of course, you may have read our Baby Driver review from SXSW Film Festival. Because of the insane early buzz (the film is currently 100% on rotten tomatoes), the film will be getting an earlier than expected June theatrical release. That is a big show of faith from Sony in this film.

the dark tower trailer

The Dark Tower

Idris Elba introduced the first look at The Dark Tower, which looks as exciting as it did confusing. I'm not an avid Stephen King reader and have not even attempted to get into the Dark Tower series of books, so consider myself a fresh set of eyes.

The teaser began with the director and screenwriter both talking about how they are huge Stephen King fans. We see text on the screen from the books, "The Man In Black fled across the desert, and The Gunslinger followed," cut with concept art that quickly morphs into film footage.

We see Elba as Roland Deschain, the Gunslinger, walking with two guns in a post-apocalyptic environment. "I don't kill with my guns; I kill with my heart," he says.

"The tower will fall," promises Matthew McConaughey as the Man in Black. We cut to a young boy, Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor) in a physiatrist's office, talking about his vivid dreams of the Dark Tower. The Doctor tries to impress upon him that it is just a dream, and the stories he is recalling are not real. It's worth noting that there is a photograph of the Overlook Hotel from The Shining on the physiatrist's desk, hinting to the larger Stephen King universe that the series is built around.

We see Jake enter a dilapidated house, where he finds a portal to another world. In the other world, he meets the Gunslinger and tells him he has dreamt about him.

"That was no dream boy," Roland informs Jake. "As long as the man in black is out there, the tower will fall."

We see some quick cuts, some things I really couldn't make out, but possibly just showing us a little of this world. We see an action sequence that involves the gunslinger shooting his gun while vaulting through the air. Some of the clips were apparently using very early, unfinished visual effects. We see a confrontation between Roland and the Man In Black, where the Gunslinger shoots a window that comes shattering down upon the Man in Black, but the villain is somehow able to freeze the shards in mid-air, before using his powers to push the pieces of glass back at him.

In another scene, we see Roland aim at a man abducting Jake from many yards away. Using only his hearing, he takes aim and shoots through a bunch of obstacles to take down the abductor.

The footage was interesting, but confusing for a non-fan. I'm not sure if they were trying to appeal more towards fans of the book than newbies, but I didn't know what to make of some of it. Also, the footage had some visual effects that looked very early and unfinished for a July 28, 2017 release. With no trailer yet released for this film, I wonder if Sony will delay the movie yet again.

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Animated Films

They then showed some clips from Sony's animated division. The Smurfs and The Emoji Movie, which looks as immature and more stupid than you might expect.

They also showed some early footage from The Star, which is being sold as "experience the greatest story ever told in a way you've never seen before." The film follows a donkey named Bo who is around during the birth of Christ. We were told that the story "proves you can do the impossible," and that somehow, this retelling of the story of Christmas will somehow appeal to moviegoers of all religions. Seems unlikely. The early concept art looked pretty generic.

The last bit in the animation section took an early look at the new adaptation of Peter Rabbit. Will Gluck's movie stars James Corden as the titular character and we were shown brief clips of animatics cut with some of the live action footage. It's hard to judge a film at this early stage, but it looks like a typical animation-live-action hybrid film. The sizzle reel ended with "Jump Around" by House of Pain.

I'm honestly surprised they didn't show anything from the animated Spider-Man movie, especially since some shots were previewed at a Sony Animation press event recently.

blade runner 2049 harrison ford

Blade Runner 2049

Tom Rothman introduced actor Ryan Gosling to talk about Blade Runner 2049, which Rothman claims will "expand the mythology in pretty astounding ways." He said the script is so good that it attracted one of the visionary filmmakers of our time, meaning Arrival director Denis Villeneuve. Rothman explained that the last time he saw Gosling, he was on a giant set on a freezing night in Budapest, with huge buckets of water being dropped on him. Gosling talked about the practical production of the film:

"I was so surreal to be walking around the universe of Blade Runner. The craftsmanship of this film is really on another level. Every location was real, every set was there, every prop was functional. It was a fully functioning living breathing world. It made it so easy in the end to concentrate on the internal world of these characters as the external world was so rich and filled with detail."

Gosling says the film came out when he was two years old and admits that he saw everything that stole from Blade Runner before he saw the original. But when he saw the movie and it blew him away, so being part of this world is special to him.

Rothman revealed that a big portion of the film takes place in Las Vegas, but the scenes were shot in Budapest. When Rothman asked Gosling to tell the audience about it, the actor joked that he isn't sure he's even allowed to say he enjoyed making the movie.

The footage begins with clips from the original Blade Runner and some words: "In 1982...a film revolutionized movies...and how we saw the future. Now..."

We see a closeup of a gun in Gosling's character's hand, and the camera pulls out to reveal he is bloody and standing in a blue-lit rain. He walks towards a building. Inside we see glass display cases housing unmoving human beings, probably replicants. We meet Jared Leto's character in this location. He says, "We make angels, but I can only make so many." So clearly he is the creator of these replicants.

We saw some fast-cut glimpses of this world and everything looks as fantastic as that early teaser – colorful, vivid, beautiful. We are shown the same clip of him coming face to face with Harrison Ford's Deckard for the first time. Ford is pointing a gun at Gosling and says "You're a cop? I had your job once; I was good at it." "I know." "What do you want?" "I want to ask you some questions."

The most unusual clip from this new trailer was a shot of Gosling's character walking through a snowy environment. We see a scene with Gosling having a conversation with a woman on the top of a skyscraper. It looks like a scene that could be straight out of the original movie.

"There is an order to things," she says. "It's what we do here. We keep order."

We also see a gas station on fire in the middle of nowhere, a holographic woman, a futuristic stage show in Vegas, and Gosling reading through a book. A woman's voice says:

"I always told you, you're special. The story isn't over yet; there is still a page left."

The footage looked stunning and beautiful. The world-building looks very promising, but they have barely even begun to tease the mysterious plot of the new film.

Flatliners Sequel

We then saw a quick sizzle reel featuring footage from other movies:

  • A horror movie called Cadavers, about a woman who works with dead bodies. The teaser ends with a push in on a body vault and we can hear her trapped inside, trying to get out.
  • A female John Wick-style action film called Proud Mary that just doesn't even seem to compare to Atomic Blonde.
  • A remake of Flatliners (which didn't have a title card, leading to speculation that it might have a different title or subtitle) starring Ellen Page. She and her co-workers are experimenting with death, with plans to document the experience of being killed for 60 seconds and then revived. We get glimpses of the dream-like states that they go into, which quickly become more like nightmares.  The footage ends with Page dragged out of a dark house like a typical horror movie. I was expecting the Flatliners remake to have more of a unique angle to it, but it looks exactly like what you might imagine a Flatliners update might look like.
  • Rough Night: A female bachelor party movie that begins like the long line of Bridesmaids-style comedy copycats, but when a stripper is accidentally killed, it seems to turn into a more interesting Very Bad Things-style dark comedy with the group of women having to transport the dead body, Weekend At Bernie's style. Could be fun.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

The presentation ended with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson presenting the first footage from Jumanji, which seems to have a new title: Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.

Johnson wanted to pay homage to the original movie and to the late great Robin Williams while also "make it global, big and fun." Nick Jonas, Karen Gillan, and Jack Black were also in attendance at the convention. Jack joked that shooting in the jungles of Hawaii was "pure hell," saying it was harder than what Leo had to deal with while shooting The Revenant.

The extended trailer we watched for Jumanji was surprisingly good. It begins with a group of high school students attending detention – think The Breakfast Club with the same archetypes. A teacher tells them, "You're all here for a reason. You should all think about who you are and who you want to be. Fortunately, you'll have a lot of time to figure that out while you clean out the basement."

While cleaning the basement, they find an old school video game system and try to play it on an old CRT television. In the system is a 16-bit style Jumanji game and the kids select their characters from the on-screen menu. When they hit start, they get sucked into the game and find themselves in the body of the avatar they selected. For instance, the geek is now The Rock, and the hot girl is inside Jack Black's body.

They discover they each have unique skills and it's revealed that they each have only three lives, which is an interesting twist (and comes into play later). Johnson gets into a fight and we see them exploring the island. I'm usually not a fan of Kevin Hart, but his interplay between Rock is fun. Johnson's character explains that games like this have levels and they need to complete a bunch of levels to beat the game and escape the game. "Welcome to the Jungle" by Guns n Roses plays in the background, naturally.

In one scene, they need to return a jewel to a statue, but it's apparently not that easy. This requires journeying through an Indiana Jones-style temple. Other moments include:

Johnson being told told that he reminds a character of another adventurer who once visited the world.

Jack Black gets eaten by a giant hippo, who appears out of the water Deep Blue Sea-style.

We saw another big action scene with our heroes in helicopters escaping a herd of giant rhinos.

I have to admit, I wasn't really into any of the Jumanji photos released thus far (it looked super cheesy), but this trailer explained everything and was, surprisingly, a lot of fun. It looks like it could be a fun update/sequel. It's promising for sure!

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We will be covering all of the studio presentations at CinemaCon throughout the week, so keep checking back for more. Look for our live broadcasts on Twitter by following us at @slashfilm.