CinemaCon essentially offers speed-dating for studios and movie theater owners, with more than 7,000 exhibitors from 82 countries packed into a giant room at Las Vegas's Caesars Palace — the same one where Celine Dion plays. The Hollywood studios show clips from their upcoming slate, and sometimes entire movies. And they bring in stars such as Tom Cruise, Reese Witherspoon and Channing Tatum for a more insider version of Comic-Con.
The goal: Get theater owners excited enough to book their films in the biggest rooms and put a ton of promotion behind them. Disney, Sony, Paramount and Warner Brothers all screened footage earlier this week.
What theater owners liked
Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation
Paramount got a good reaction for its preview of this sequel — one of the films shown at CinemaCon that was actually a sequel rather than a reboot, like several of the other high-profile films previewed here.
Disney/Pixar's "Inside Out" played well, but there was some concern that the movie played older than other Pixar movies — it may be too targeted at parents more than their kids.
Max Max: Fury Road
Fans have been excited about this revisiting of the 'Mad Max' franchise, and exhibitors showed similar enthusiasm for the film.
The footage played well with exhibitors, even though the idea of rebooting the Chevy Chase comedy classic with Ed Helms may be groan-inducing for some. One person who was set to release a movie around the same time noted after seeing the footage that they wanted to move their film to avoid conflicting with "Vacation."
A lot of people were talking about this feature version of the documentary "Man On Wire," about French tightrope walker Philippe Petit's 1974 crossing between the two towers of the World Trade Center. Director Robert Zemeckis, an expert with special effects, has created a copy of the fallen towers that inspires vertigo in a great way. It stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
Sony showed footage of "Xmas" from Seth Rogen and James Franco, which a studio exec jokingly introduced as being from the same guys who almost brought you "The Interview."
What theater owners didn't like
The franchise reboot's extended preview received a severely mixed response. The latest glimpses of the film haven't played well online, and it looks like that's being reflected by exhibitors.
Scenes from a feature film version of the HBO satire of young Hollywood bros seemed to indicate this one might have been better left on the "Entourage" DVD collection.
The Will Smith movie looks at NFL players with brain injuries, but the footage looked and played weakly to the CinemaCon audience. Only one scene was shown, but the results weren't promising.
A Warner Brothers schedule versus a Sony schedule
Warner Brothers and Sony presented a tale in contrast. While a lot of studios are scaling back, Warner Brothers is actually releasing more films this year.
Meanwhile, Sony doesn't appear to have much this summer, with most of the films they previewed (including "Concussion," "The Walk" and "Xmas") coming out later in the year. The studio hasn't been doing well at the box office, and they're still dealing with the North Korea-related Sony hack. Their studio chief Amy Pascal was fired, but new head Tom Rothman told the crowd that the studio is "unbroken and unbowed." They also had one big superhero announcement, noting that the filmmakers behind "The Lego Movie" will be delivering an animated Spider-Man film — but that's not for a few more years.
Latinos at the box office
In a panel on Latino moviegoing, there were parallels with some of what theater group head John Fithian told the Frame earlier this week — namely, that Latinos are a huge part of the future of the industry, and that they actually spend more than other audiences. Also, that one of the best examples of reaching that audience has been "Furious 7," which has attained great success with its diverse cast.
Latinos over the age of 12 make up 16 percent of the population, but more than 21 percent of all tickets sold. Even though the box office was down last year, Latino attendance was up.
On a broader level, 37 percent of the nation is non-white — but at the movies, they make up nearly half of tickets sold, at 46 percent. Meanwhile, there were few people of color among the stars presented by the studios. The most prominent Latino at the convention was TV host Mario Lopez, who emceed the Warner Brothers presentation.
Panelists said that the way to reach Latino audiences was not to overly focus the product or to target them as a segment of the population, but to treat Latino audiences as part of the wider population. Latinos are on their way to be a plurality of United States audiences, and both studios and theaters are set to miss out on a lot of money if they don't figure out how to address this audience properly.