6 Takeaways From CinemaCon 2016, or How Sean Parker Blew It

After four days, the consensus around keeping the status quo for theatrical releases hardened into a full-throated battle cry among exhibitors

The movie business is doing great, according to the associations that run the movie business who convened in Las Vegas this week for CinemaCon 2016.

Only problem is I don’t really believe it.

Oh sure, I accept that last year’s numbers were great. There was a bump in global box office to $38.3 billion. A 2 percent rise in admissions. And a surprising spike in attendance by teenagers ages 12 to 17 — they each went to see more than seven movies last year, on average.

Also Read: Global Box Office Soars to $38.3 Billion, Chinese Movie Attendance Up 51.2 Percent

But the global revenue bump is coming from China — whose box office soared by a stunning 51 percent last year — and so is admissions. That only helps Hollywood a little bit until that country opens its market. China is very protective of its industry and has a quota around how many non-Chinese movies it will take. As for the U.S. teenagers, my guess is that’s a one-off rise related to the return of “Star Wars” in December.

So the going-to-the-movies business depends a whole lot on the quality of the storytelling and spectacle provided by Hollywood. In a week of nine studio presentations and countless cups of coffee, here’s what I learned:

1. Theaters are dug in hard against Sean Parker’s new Screening Room proposal. After four days, the consensus around keeping the status quo for theatrical releases had hardened into a full-throated battle cry among exhibitors, industry associations like NATO and MPAA, and key directors like James Cameron and Todd Phillips who declared their colors when speaking to exhibitors this week. The debate over The Screening Room, a proposal to offer consumers movies at home for $50 on the same date as the theatrical release, hung over the entire convention. Nearly everyone addressed it — except Sean Parker himself.

james cameron

Getty Images

Parker certainly didn’t make any friends by staying away from the convention all week and instead hosting a bunch of movie stars (and Peter Jackson) at his house in Bel-Air for a totally different medical investment.

If Parker and his partner Prem Akkaraju want to show they actually care about the preserving the ecosystem that currently supports billions of dollars in revenue and thousands of jobs, then they need to (a) show up and (b) drop the arrogant private-jet zillionaire aura.

These exhibitors are working folks from the heartland and they need to like you. (Might be too late for that.) The hotshots blew the good opening they had with the very likeable J.J. Abrams espousing experimentation when speaking on stage in Las Vegas. It went downhill from there for their cause.

Also Read: James Cameron Slams Screening Room Again, Says Movies Should Be 'Exclusively in Theaters on Initial Release'

Rory Bruer CinemaCon

2. Sony needs to get its act together. The disarray demonstrated at the Sony presentation was the talk of CinemaCon. Bad enough that the opening sizzle reel had no sound. Worse that no one stopped the reel from running through to the end after the glitch.

But the real problem was that no one stopped distribution chief Rory Bruer from exhausting the crowd by hogging the stage and running through every single movie, every division and every executive working on movies at Sony. This is the second year in a row that the studio looked amateurish.

The studio lost a lot of audience by the time the agonizingly long 90-minute presentation ended, unfairly diminishing the studio’s strong movies like “Passengers” and “Ghostbusters.”

vanilla ice, chris aronson, ice age, fox, cinemacon

Vanilla Ice with Fox distribution head Chris Aronson for a wiggy “Ice Age” routine (Getty Images)

3. Fox let loose. Who knew that Chris Aronson was a dead ringer for Vanilla Ice? The Fox distribution boss proved to be a very good sport in an elaborate and surprisingly well-choreographed song-and-dance number to promote this summer’s animated sequel “Ice Age: Collision Course.” Dope!

Bad Moms CinemaCon
4. STX impressed. The fledgling studio offered up a polished, focused and altogether professional presentation that suggested a serious new player had stepped onto the movie scene. Studio chief Adam Fogelson looked entirely comfortable in his role as emcee of the slate, capably bantering with actors on the stage and even getting Matthew McConaughey to share an “Alright, alright, alright.”

McConaughey stars in “The Free State of Jones,” an historical drama about a revolt by poor Southern farmers against the wealthy landowners in the middle of the Civil War, and it looked strong. So did the gripping “Desierto,” a very timely thriller by Jonas and Alfonso Cuaron set in the no-man’s land of illegal immigration from Mexico.

And sign me up to see “Bad Moms,” about women who’ve simply had enough of all the demands in their lives, starring Mila Kunis and Kristen Bell as leading mama-rebels. Catharsis. Which leads me to…

ghostbusters cinemacon

Getty Images

5. Women-led movies are finding their way. It wasn’t only the new “Ghostbusters” — with the full cast of Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon — that impressed at CinemaCon. Disney had a number of female-led projects, both animated and live action, from “Moana” to Lupita Nyong’o‘s “Queen of Katwe” and “Beauty and the Beast” with Emma Watson.

I loved the teasers shown of “The Edge of Seventeen,” written and directed by Kelly Fremon Craig and starring a fiercely funny Hailee Steinfeld about … being 17. Likewise, the aforementioned “Bad Moms” has a side-splitting cast that includes Mila Kunis, Christina Applegate, Kristen Bell and Kathryn Hahn (wait for Kristen Bell to describe having sex with her not-hard-enough husband). Amy Adams showed up often for a number of movies, and we really really like seeing Felicity Jones in the new “Star Wars: Rogue One.”

star wars rogue one trailer
6. Disney Shows Up, Drops the Mic. In a brief but powerful presentation, Disney swaggered more than a little — but with good cause. The PowerPoint slide that stuck in my mind was that $2.1 billion for “Star Wars,” along with the cumulatively stunning global box office numbers around “Zootopia” and as well as live-action movies adapted from classics in the studio’s archives, like “Cinderella” and “Maleficent.”

One glimpse at the slide with Disney’s five leading movie brands — Marvel, Lucasfilm, Walt Disney Animation, Pixar and Walt Disney Pictures — reminded everyone how incredibly strong the studio’s movie divisions are. (Yeah, there were a lot of slides. The studio didn’t bother to jet in much talent.)

And that’s even with losing Steven Spielberg‘s DreamWorks to Universal, which no one seemed to noticed. Disney’s movie divisions are firing on all cylinders, and that’s why the swagger (yeah, Dave Hollis, we mean you) was deserved.

51 Summer Movies on Our Radar: From 'Captain America: Civil War' to 'Sausage Party' (Photos)

  • Summer Movie Preview
  • "Captain America: Civil War" (May 6)

    The Avengers are back in the third standalone film for "Captain America," in which political pressure to register superheroes with the government divides the team.

  • "Pele: Birth of a Legend" (May 6)

    Starring Kevin de Paula, Vincent D'OnofrioRodrigo Santoro and Diego Boneta, "Pele" tells the story of Brazil's most celebrated soccer player.

    Getty Images
  • "Elstree 1976" (May 6)

    The documentary features actors and extras from the "Star Wars" franchise as they remember their times on set and talk about how the making of the films affected their lives. Derek Lyons, Anthony Forrest and Laurie Goode all make appearances.

  • "A Bigger Splash" (May 13)

    In this film starring Dakota Johnson, Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton and Matthias Schoenaerts, a famous rock star and filmmaker go on vacation only to have it disrupted by an old friend and his daughter.

  • "Money Monster" (May 13)

    Julia Roberts and George Clooney reunite once again in this story about a business network TV host and his producer who face a tough situation when an armed investor seizes their studio.

  • "The Lobster" (May 13)

    Single denizens of The City in this film's dystopian future must find a romantic partner within 45 days, or they're transformed into beasts and sent into the Woods. Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz star.

  • "Dheepan" (May 13)

    After winning the Palme d'Or at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, the drama will be released in the U.S. by IFC/Sundance Selects. It deals with a former soldier, a young woman and a child who pose as a family to escape the civil war in Sri Lanka.

    IFC Films
  • "Search Party" (May 13)

    "Silicon Valley" stars T.J. Miller and Thomas Middleditch reteam alongside Adam Pally in this comedy about two friends who go on a mission to reunite their friend with the woman he was supposed to marry.

    Focus World
  • "Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising" (May 20)

    Seth Rogen, Zac Efron and Rose Byrne are back -- but this time around, the former enemies team up against a sorority that's wreaking even more havoc than Efron's frat from the original film. Chloe Grace Moretz and Selena Gomez join the cast.

  • "The Angry Birds Movie" (May 20)

    After the huge success of the mobile game, the angry birds are coming to the big screen with voiceovers by Peter Dinklage, Kate McKinnon, Jason Sudeikis, Bill Hader, Keegan-Michael Key, Josh Gad, Maya Rudolph and more.

  • "The Nice Guys" (May 20)

    Directed by Shane Black, this period detective film starring Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling will hit theaters in May. In the movie, the two must work together to find a missing girl and solve the seemingly unrelated death of a porn star.

    Warner Bros.
  • "Weiner" (May 20)

    The documentary that disgraced New York Congressman Anthony Weiner now regrets granting access, follows his 2013 mayoral bid which ended in a now infamous sexting scandal.

    IFC Films/Sundance Selects
  • "Holy Hell" (May 20)

    Twenty years in the making, this documentary goes inside The Buddha Field, a cult formed in the 1980s in West Hollywood, California. Filmmaker Will Allen is a former member of the sect who uses archival footage to tell the story of its charismatic leader, who forced members to perform sex acts, get abortions and undergo plastic surgery, often using hypnotherapy.

  • "Alice Through the Looking Glass" (May 27)

    Starring Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen and Rhys Ifans, the "Alice in Wonderland" sequel is tracking for a $74 million opening weekend when it debuts against "X-Men: Apocalypse."

  • "The Do-Over" (May 27)

    Adam Sandler signed a four-picture production with Netflix, and "The Do-Over," costarring David Spade, is his second entry, following last year's "Ridiculous Six." In the film, the two decide to fake their own deaths in order to start over with new identities.

  • "X-Men: Apocalypse" (May 27)

    The eighth movie in the "X-Men" franchise adds newcomers Sophie Turner, Oscar Isaac, Olivia Munn, Alexandra Shipp, Kodi Smit-McPhee and Tye Sheridan to the regular cast. In "Apocalypse," the X-Men must fight the world's first mutant.

    Twentieth Century Fox
  • "Me Before You" (June 3)

    Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin star in the on-screen adaptation of Jojo Moyes' bestselling novel, in which a small town girl becomes the caretaker of a disabled man. Improbably, they fall in love.

    Warner Bros.
  • "The Bye Bye Man" (June 3)

    The horror film was most recently moved from October, and follows three college students who move into a house off campus to discover a supernatural entity called the Bye Bye Man. They must save each other while keeping the entity’s existence a secret from others. It cleared the date for Ben Affleck‘s “The Accountant.”

    STX Entertainment
  • "The Conjuring 2" (June 10)

    The sequel to 2013's "The Conjuring" welcomes back 
    Vera Farmiga and
    Patrick Wilson as they try to help a single mother whose house is plagued by demons.

    Warner Bros.
  • "Warcraft" (June 10)

    Based on the popular video game, the fantasy film directed by Duncan Jones stars Paula Patton, Dominic Cooper, Ben Schnetzer and Clancy Brown, and chronicles the first interactions between humans and orcs.

  • "Now You See Me 2" (June 10)

    Another sequel in a summer that's full of them, "Now You See Me 2" stars Jesse Eisenberg, Lizzy Caplan, Daniel Radcliffe, Mark Ruffalo, Morgan Freeman, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco and Sanaa Lathan, as the Four Horsemen reunite to take down a tech mogul.

  • "Central Intelligence" (June 17)

    The upcoming action comedy stars Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson as the unlikely duo teams up for a "top-secret"case. 

    Warner Bros.
  • "Finding Dory" (June 17)

    The long-awaited sequel to 2003's "Finding Nemo" centers on his blue friend, Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), who goes on a mission to find her long-lost loved ones.

  • "Swiss Army Man" (June 17)

    Known as the "farting corpse" movie, it stars Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe. The film was sold to A24 after premiering at Sundance Film Festival -- before a number of walkouts.

  • "Free State of Jones" (June 24)

    Originally slated for a May 13 release, "Free State of Jones" stars Matthew McConaughey, Keri Russell and Gugu Mbatha-Raw in a film set during the Civil War about a poor farmer from Mississippi who leads a rebel group.

    STX Entertainment
  • "Independence Day: Resurgence" (June 24)

    It's been two decades since the first "Independence Day" film, long enough for reinforcements called in by its vanquished alien invaders to mount an even bigger threat. Liam Hemsworth, Maiki Monroe, William Fichtner, Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman star.

  • "The Shallows" (June 24)

    A young surfer (Blake Lively) finds herself stranded on a small rock off shore after she's attacked by a great white shark in this horror movie. She'll spend the majority of it failing to return to land.

  • "The BFG" (July 1)

    The on-screen adaptation of Roald Dahl's famous novel of the same name is finally hitting the big screen, with Oscar-winner Mark Rylance starring as the big friendly giant. Bill Hader, Rebecca Hall and Ruby Barnhill also star.

  • "The Legend of Tarzan" (July 1)

    We've all seen the stills of Alexander Skarsgard shirtless for this role, so naturally, we're excited to see him play Tarzan alongside Margot Robbie's Jane.

    Warner Bros.
  • "The Purge: Election Year" (July 1)

    "The Purge" films have performed consistently well at the box office despite their low budgets. This third installment in the franchise focuses on a presidential contender who vows to eliminate the annual Purge.

  • "Captain Fantastic" (July 8)

    Starring Viggo Mortensen, Frank Langella and Kathryn Hahn, this Sundance selection chronicles the reintegration into the real world of a man who's raised his kids in isolation for a decade.

    Bleecker Street
  • "Mike & Dave Need Wedding Dates" (July 8)

    Anna Kendrick, Zac Efron, Aubrey Plaza and Adam DeVine star in this comedy about two brothers who place an online ad to find wedding dates -- but before they know it, the ad goes viral.

  • "The Secret Life of Pets" (July 8)

    Illumination Entertainment is releasing another animated comedy, which features the voices of Louis C.K., Eric Stonestreet, Kevin Hart, Steve Coogan, Ellie Kemper, Lake Bell and Hannibal Buress. The film is about what pets do as soon as their owners leave, but a criminal conspiracy soon threatens their happy lives.

  • "Ghostbusters" (July 15)

    This remake of the 1984 classic has been stirring up controversy for multiple reasons since it was announced. Sony’s reboot is directed by Paul Feig and stars Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones as the new all-girl Ghostbusters.

  • "The Infiltrator" (July 15)

    Bryan Cranston plays Robert Mazur, a DEA agent who goes undercover to expose the money-laundering schemes of the world’s top drug lords. Diane Kruger, Benjamin Bratt, John Leguizamo, and Amy Ryan also star.

    Broad Green Pictures
  • "Lights Out" (July 22)

    A mother tries to save her children from a malicious force of the darkness; the same that haunted her when she was a little girl. Teresa Palmer and Gabriel Bateman star.

    Warner Bros.
  • "Absolutely Fabulous" (July 22)

    “Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie” is officially heading to the big screen, based on the cult BBC series that first aired from 1992 to 1995. Starring Jennifer Saunders, Joanna Lumley, Julia Sawalha, June Whitfield and Jane Horrocks, “AbFab” followed Edina Monsoon (Saunders), a heavy-drinking, drug-abusing PR agent who spent her time chasing bizarre fads in a desperate attempt to stay young and “hip.”

    Fox Searchlight
  • "Star Trek Beyond" (July 22)

    The voyagers of the Starship Enterprise Redux are back, and this time they face a new threat on a planet the Federation has never seen before. Idris Elba joins the returning ensemble cast led by Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto.

  • "Bad Moms" (July 29)

    Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, Christina Applegate and Jada Pinkett Smith star in this comedy about three over-stressed moms joining forces on a quest for freedom and self-indulgence.

    STX Entertainment
  • "Jason Bourne" (July 29)

    The spy thriller is a sequel to 2012’s “Bourne Legacy” and welcomes back Matt Damon in the titular role. Julia Stiles, Alicia Vikander, Vincent Cassel and Tommy Lee Jones also star. The official title of the film was announced during Super Bowl 50.

  • "Indignation" (July 29)

    James Schamus is making his directorial feature film debut with "Indignation," a drama set in 1951 in which a Jewish student struggles with sexual repression at a small Ohio college. 

  • "The Founder" (August 5)

    It’s “The Social Network” meets Quarter-Pounders as Michael Keaton plays Ray Kroc, the man who took over McDonald’s and made it a household name. Laura Dern, Nick Offerman, and John Carroll Lynch also star.

    Weinstein Company
  • "Suicide Squad" (August 5)

    One of the most anticipated films of the year pulls together our favorite DC villains like the Joker, Harley Quinn, Deadshot and Boomerang to form a team of supervillains forced to do the government's bidding. The David Ayer-directed film stars Viola Davis, Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jai Courtney, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje and Jared Leto.

    David Ayers Twitter/Warner Bros.
  • "Ben-Hur" (August 12)

    Lew Wallace’s classic novel is getting another feature film adaptation, 57 years after William Wyler’s Oscar-winning epic. Jack Huston, Morgan Freeman and Toby Kebbell star.

  • "Pete's Dragon" (August 12)

    Disney remade the 1977 live action film of the same name, casting Bryce Dallas Howard, Robert Redford, Wes Bentley, and Oakes Fegley as Pete. The film is about an orphaned boy and his best friend, who just happens to be a dragon.

  • "Sausage Party" (August 12)

    “Sausage Party” stars Seth Rogen, Kristen Wiig, Jonah Hill, Bill Hader, Michael Cera, James Franco, Danny McBride and Paul Rudd, and centers on grocery store food items that want to "go home" with buyers but soon discover the truth behind their existence.

  • "The Hollars" (August 12)

    A struggling graphic novelist returns home, where an ailing mother, pregnant girlfriend, clingy ex, and chaotic family problems await. John Krasinski, Anna Kendrick, Sharlto Copley, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead star.

    Sony Pictures Classics
  • "War Dogs" (August 19)

    At the height of the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan, two partying young entrepreneurs land an arms deal with the government worth hundreds of millions. Jonah Hill and Miles Teller star.

    Warner Bros.
  • "Southside with You" (August 19)

    A smash hit at this year’s Sundance, Richard Tanne’s romantic dramedy looks at the first date between Barack and Michelle Obama. Patrick Sawyers and Tika Sumpter star.

  • "Don't Breathe" (August 26)

    Three teen thieves who steal from the rich decide to go for one last heist at the house of a wealthy, blind war veteran. Just one problem: he can hear them breathing, and he’s armed and dangerous. Dylan Minnette, Jane Levy, Daniel Zovatto and Stephen Lang star.

  • "Hands of Stone" (August 26)

    Edgar Ramirez will lace up the gloves to play Roberto Duran, the legendary Panamanian boxer who KO’d Sugar Ray Leonard and became champion in four weight classes. Robert De Niro and Usher also star.

    The Weinstein Company
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TheWrap Summer Movie Preview 2016: “Dheepan,” “Angry Birds” and “Ghostbusters” are also among season’s big releases

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