LAS VEGAS: Hollywood rolled out the big guns at the CinemaCon convention on Tuesday as Disney and Warner Bros locked horns with rival presentations of their upcoming movies.
Disney kicked off the day at the annual Las Vegas film industry get-together with footage from its hotly anticipated “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” while Warner answered the challenge by wowing fans with new images from “Aquaman.”
Disney traditionally keeps back most of its surprises for its own biennial D23 Expo, but delighted delegates with a look at the first meeting between Alden Ehrenreich’s young Han Solo and Donald Glover’s Lando Calrissian.
Scenes from the Ron Howard movie, the second “Star Wars” spinoff after “Rogue One” (2016), showed the pair’s encounter in a sleazy dive bar on a snowbound world, watched by a colorful menagerie of new alien characters.
There was also a glimpse of what looked like the pivotal moment in “Star Wars” lore when Han wins the Millennium Falcon starship from Lando in a card game.
Hollywood decamps to the Nevada desert for four days every year, taking over Caesar’s Palace to show theater owners what they can expect to be making their money from over the following 12 to 24 months.
While most studios wheel out their biggest stars to promote their performances, Disney opted this year to let its movies do the talking.
The audience was treated to preview footage of Tim Burton’s “Dumbo”, Jon Favreau’s “The Lion King”, and a behind-the-scenes making-of featurette for Guy Ritchie’s “Aladdin”. All three movies are due out next year.
“Aladdin is one of those perfect stories. It just burrows down inside of you,” the movie’s star Will Smith said in a preview video.
CinemaCon was also shown a new trailer for “Ant-Man and the Wasp” as well as the opening sequence of animation “The Incredibles 2” from Disney-owned Pixar and scenes from Rob Marshall’s upcoming holiday release, “Mary Poppins Returns”, starring Emily Blunt.
There was a marked difference in presentation style as Warner Bros previewed its slate later in the day, adding some welcome pizzazz with a roll call of its biggest names.
It set out its stall with a parade of its DC Comics superheroes, treating delegates to behind-the-scenes footage from “Aquaman” and sending director James Wan onstage to introduce a “work-in-progress” trailer.
The footage of what is expected to be one of this year’s big Christmas films gave delegates a glimpse of the mythical underwater world of Atlantis, its distinctly humanoid residents riding sea horses into battle.
Comedian and actor Will Arnett, playing host on behalf of Warner Bros, lightheartedly chided “Aquaman” star Jason Momoa for indulging in some rather colourful language.
“You went from ‘Game of Thrones’ to ‘Aquaman,'” Arnett told the muscle-bound 38-year-old Hawaiian, his mouth curling into a smirk.
“Does it feel good to work in something that’s more realistic?
“Have you ever wanted to play a character who wears a shirt?” Arnett demanded, as Momoa, joined onstage by co-stars Amber Heard, Patrick Wilson, and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, took the cheeky line of enquiry in good spirit.
Warner showed a brief sizzle reel of the numerous superhero projects in its DC Extended Universe pipeline, featuring David F. Sandberg’s “Shazam!” and Patty Jenkins chatting about “Wonder Woman 2,” which she revealed will be set in the 1980s.
The cast of “Ocean’s 8”, led by Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett, turned up to pique excitement over the female-skewed heist spin-off, and Bradley Cooper appeared for “A Star is Born.”
A trailer for the romance, which he stars in and directs, was praised by the Hollywood press for the chemistry between the “Hangover” actor and pop sensation Lady Gaga.
“I always wanted to tell a love story and this project was around before and it always stayed with me… to me, music is the purest way you can communicate love,” Cooper said.
STX Films closed out CinemaCon onTuesday with a showcase of nautical thriller “Adrift,” starring Shailene Woodley (“Divergent”).
Woodley, 26, described the movie as “a survival story that’s really about true love” and tenacity in the face of adversity.
“It’s not every day you get to work with a filmmaker who is willing to shoot this thing on the ocean,” she added.
Jennifer Garner introduced revenge thriller “Peppermint”, and STX also showcased the upcoming “Second Act,” “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”, and Peter Berg’s spy drama “Mile 22”, starring Mark Wahlberg and Lauren Cohan.