Universal was out in force at CineEurope with a bevy of exclusive clips from its sprawling slate, including “Fast & Furious X,” as well as Jordan Peele’s horror thriller “Nope” and Nicholas Stoller’s “Bros,” one of the first major studio-backed romantic comedies with LGBTQ characters.
The jam-packed presentation kicked off with a comedy short film made for the occasion with “Halloween Ends” star Jamie Lee Curtis in a rare comedic role playing herself a retired actor who gets a job at a movie theater and turns out to be a disaster.
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Veronika Kwan Vandenberg, Universal Pictures International’s president of distribution, then opened the show by stressing the importance of having a wide-ranging, diverse slate to thrive in this new era. The executive said UPI, which distribute films across Universal, Focus Features and MGM, will roll out more than 40 films over the next 12 months, “nearly doubling the titles you’ll see from any other studio here this week.”
“[The] theatrical business will not survive on superheroes and VIP alone. At Universal, we cater to diverse tastes and cultural preferences all over the world,” said Kwan Vandenberg, who was joined on stage by Niels Swinkels, EVP and managing director of international, who presented the bulk of the slate, and Julian Noble, president of international marketing.
“We remain dedicated to providing you with a broad lineup of films, from big brands and franchises and best in class animation to original films across a variety of genres.”
Exhibitors and distributors on hand at CineEurope were treated with some exclusive footage from “Nope” which reteams Peele with his “Get Out” star Daniel Kaluuya, starring alongside Keke Palmer and Steven Yeun. The footage shown at CineEurope got folks in the audience to jump from their seats and laugh at the dark humor. “Nope” comes out August 1 and is being positioned as a potential blockbuster of the summer. Another trailer which stirred a vivid reaction from attendees out was “M3GAN,” the creepy Blumhouse movie about a life-like doll who turns out to be dangerous.
One major title being revved up for theater owners was Louis Leterrier’s “Fast & Furious X,” which delivered an exclusive first clip with new cast members Jason Momoa and Brie Larson. That footage earned loud applause.
One of the best examples of the studio’s drive to push the envelop and break the mold when it comes to genres is “Bros,” a high-concept queer romcom produced by Judd Apatow, the producer of some of the biggest R-rated comedy hits in the last two decades, such as “Knocked Up” and “Trainwreck.” The CineEurope audience gave the exclusive extended trailer a warm applause. Starring Luke Macfarlane and Billy Eichner (who also penned the script), the movie is meant to appeal to a broad audience as it pokes fun at today’s social-media-centric dating scene and commitment issues.
Another highly anticipated romantic comedy teased at the tradeshow was Ol Parker’s “Ticket to Paradise” with a new trailer featuring Julia Roberts and George Clooney who seemed to have a blast playing divorced parents who can’t stand each other when they reunite at their daughter’s Bali wedding.
The studio also brought in recorded videos of big-name filmmakers such as Christopher Nolan and Night Shyamalan, who teased their upcoming movies, “Oppenheimer” and “Knock at the Cabin,” respectively, as well as thanking exhibitors and paying tribute to the collective experience of movie-going. But even as Nolan stressed that he couldn’t wait to bring the story of atomic bomb creator J. Robert Oppenheimer to the screen, he did offer up any tantalizing first footage.
The presentation also celebrated the huge success of Universal and Amblin’s “Jurassic World Dominion” with a video of Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard thanking CineEurope attendees and exhibitors. The sixth installment in the franchise, “Jurassic World Dominion” has pulled in more than $245 million from overseas since bowing earlier this month.
“In the times ahead, it is our mission to innovate and raise the bar in everything that we do, from marketing and distribution to our collaboration with exhibition, so that together, we can bring all audiences back to theaters at pre-pandemic levels,” said Kwan Vandenberg.
During the presentation, Noble, who recently joined Universal from Warner Bros., discussed the innovative live events and activation campaigns orchestrated in key markets to promote Universal and Illumination’s next big animated blockbuster “Minions: The Rise of Gru,” which comes out July 1 after a two-year delay. The company enlisted prestigious local partners to create new live activation campaigns for “Minions,” including the Paris Saint-Germain soccer team in France and the Australian music band The Wiggles.
Besides “Minions, the Rise of Gru” the studio’s upcoming animated features teased at the event included “Puss in Boots 2: The Last Wish” with an extended trailer and a video message from Antonio Banderas. The 2023’s slate also includes the untitled “Super Mario Bros.” movie with a voice cast led by Pratt.
In terms of director-driven fare, the studio also showed the trailer for James Gray’s “Armageddon Time,” and played a video of “Skyfall” producer Barbara Broccoli speaking about Chinonye Chukwu’s “Till,” a drama about the story of the mother of Emmett Till, who sought justice for her lynched son.
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