Welcome to the comedy stylings of Melissa McCarthy, Sandra Bullock, Ben Stiller and Kristen Wiig! Twentieth Century Fox tapped four of its 2013 comic talents for the Thursday morning presentation of its upcoming slate, presided over by CEO and chairman Jim Gianopulos. Bullock and McCarthy's first-time pairing, The Heat, was very well-received at the theatre owners convention Tuesday night, and the two stars' wacky, easygoing rapport was again on display on the Colosseum stage at Caesars Palace.
McCarthy teased Bullock, joking that she's never cared for anyone she's worked with, but three-quarters into the shoot she realized "you're not terrible." She then compared their partnership to various movie teams, finally concluding they were most like "Tom Hanks and that volleyball." (At a later press conference, Bullock sincerely stated that the kind of instant chemistry they experienced is "a rare happening.")
Not to be outdone, later on Ben Stiller responded to Gianopulos' comparison of Stiller's imaginative direction of his The Secret Life of Walter Mitty to that of last year's Fox preview closer, Ang Lee's Life of Pi, by joking, "Yes, the two of us are constantly being compared, especially that year when he did Sense and Sensibility and I did The Cable Guy." The shtick continued: "We're both Asian and both of us were bar-mitzvahed in Israel."
Co-star Kristen Wiig interrupted Stiller's talk, claiming the actor-director told her the Fox preview was the next day and that he had tried to lock her in a closet. "She's not used to performing in front of a live audience," Stiller explained.
But seriously, folks, the footage Stiller showed from his dream project, based on the James Thurber tale of a milquetoast with an extremely active fantasy life, was quite dazzling. With its December release date, Fox is clearly positioning it as a 2013 awards contender. Stiller described it as "funny, serious, epic, small in places, kind of realistic and also a fairytale... I love a film you can't categorize." Judging by the excerpts shown, it's a major artistic leap for a director known for such zany comedies as Tropic Thunder and Zoolander.
Gianopulos' preview also included trailers from Fox's two powerhouse animation suppliers, DreamWorks and Blue Sky, who he reminded the audience are responsible for the top two franchises in animation history, Shrek and Ice Age. Also highly intriguing was the trailer from the Cormac McCarthy-penned thriller The Counselor, whose formidable cast includes Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Cameron Diaz, Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem.
In the afternoon, the Lionsgate presentation was emceed by an actual standup comic, Kevin Hart, who reminded the audience perhaps five dozen times that his new concert film, Let Me Explain, is coming out via the studio on July 3. He also honed in on the not very diverse racial makeup of the Vegas audience: "The five black people in the room, they're with me. I snuck them in."
Celebrating a year in which this "new major" topped $1 billion in box office, Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer and other execs brought out an array of talent including CinemaCon 2013 award winners Harrison Ford, Morgan Freeman, Elizabeth Banks, Hailee Steinfeld and Asa Butterfield, along with Liam Hemsworth and Isla Fisher. Joss Whedon, director of last year's mammoth The Avengers, was there to drum up interest in his black-and-white, modern-dress, micro-budget version of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, which has the tagline "Shakespeare knew how to throw a party." Whedon insisted that just as some people said, "I don't like superhero movies, but I liked The Avengers," folks with an aversion to Shakespeare will have a similar reaction to this "hilarious, timeless text."
Following the world premiere of the trailer for Ender's Game, the cult sci-novel that has spawned 15 sequels, Harrison Ford greeted the crowd with "Hello, my old friends" and praised his latest project as "a very strong, emotional, exciting movie." He also thanked exhibitors for upping their game in recent years and "making the movie experience more enjoyable."
Another premiere trailer was Escape Plan, a prison thriller re-teaming veteran action icons Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger, the latter sporting a new look—a salt-and-pepper beard.
The final trailer of the final preview event of CinemaCon 2013 was from the film voted by Fandango users as the most anticipated movie of the year: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. This time directed by Francis Lawrence (I Am Legend), it looks like it delivers everything fans of the novel and the first movie are expecting. The teaser trailer will debut on May 3 with the release of Iron Man 3.