CinemaCon 2018: And Now, Highlights From The Warner Bros. CinemaCon Panel
Day one at CinemaCon started with an impressive presentation from Disney, and it seemed hard to believe that Warner Bros. - a studio which has struggled to stay ahead of the curve in recent years - would be able to top them. And yet, that's precisely what happened: Warner Bros. damn near blew the doors off the Caesar's Palace Coliseum yesterday, the MCU be damned.
Host Will Arnett arrived onstage following a brief animated clip featuring his LEGO Batman (Arnett: "If you're wondering why this version of the character doesn't have nipples, it's because (WB) keeps milking it so much") and immediately got down to business, kicking off the presentation with a look at James Wan's Aquaman. Though the teaser we were shown was at least 60% unfinished, the scale and spectacle of the film came through loud and clear, and Wan - who appeared onstage alongside Jason Momoa and a chunk of the Aquaman cast - must have been encouraged by the enthusiastic response his not-yet-complete trailer received (he certainly seemed a bit nervous introducing the clip, noting that he hadn't wanted to bring any footage but that his WB overlords had insisted).
We were shown trailers for Melissa McCarthy's Life Of The Party (my response: it looks like another Melissa McCarthy movie, and all that that entails) and Tag (the red-band version of the trailer we were shown was hilarious, and I'll be stunned if this movie doesn't become one of the summer's bigger hits; Jeremy Renner fans should be particularly excited), and then Arnett moved on to a video breakdown featuring Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema's upcoming horror offerings. Footage from The Nun looked appropriately gothic and freaky, another likely hit for the Conjuring universe, and while IT: Chapter Two didn't have any footage to share (the film doesn't start shooting until this summer), director Andy Muschietti appeared onscreen to promise us his sequel would be "scarier" and "more intense" than last year's blockbuster hit. "Bring your adult diapers to the theater," warned Muschietti, to much laughter.
After that, we got a lightning-fast parade of other trailers, each of them preceded by appearances from the cast members and filmmakers associated with each film: Crazy Rich Asians, Small Foot, Teen Titans Go To The Movies (which, real talk, looks a lot funnier than I expected) and Ocean's 8 - and their respective casts - all got a moment in the sun, and then we moved on to the first-ever footage from Andy Serkis' Mowgli. This is the long-gestating Jungle Book movie, which hopes to set itself apart from Disney's recent Jungle Book redux by providing audiences with ... a darker, scarier tone? Less convincing digital animals? Quite frankly, I watched the trailer for Mowgli and I couldn't understand who that movie is supposed to be for, but I suppose we'll see if audiences are as baffled by it as I was.
We then arrived at the highlight of the entire presentation: the very first trailer for Bradley Cooper's A Star Is Born, starring Cooper himself and Lady Gaga. Cooper arrived onstage to introduce the clip, and seemed equal parts nervous about the forthcoming audience response to the trailer and proud of the movie he made. As it turns out, Cooper had nothing to worry about - the Star Is Born trailer knocked the CinemaCon audience flat on its ass. Gaga looks to be turning in a powerhouse performance, while Cooper impressed with a legitimately decent singing voice (his southern accent's a bit much, but you'll forgive it given how great the rest of the footage is). It's obviously way too early to even be thinking about such things, but if I were a betting man, I'd put $5 on A Star Is Born being one of next year's Oscar contenders. It looks that good.
Finally, a bunch of people from Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them (not including Johnny Depp) came out and showed a new trailer for The Crimes Of Grindlewald, a several-minute stretch I spent wishing I was watching the Star Is Born trailer again.
Anyway, Warner Bros. appears to have a solid lineup this year, with Aquaman, Tag, Ocean's 8, Crazy Rich Asians and A Star Is Born being the standouts. Stay tuned for more on all of those movies - and more from CinemaCon 2018 - in the days ahead.