When promoting a big-budget summer film, there are plenty of stops at which movie stars are expected to shill their product. Actors hole up in fancy hotels for press junkets, trade banter with
But many also appear at a less talked-about event: CinemaCon, a Las Vegas conference attended by about 3,000 movie theater owners, studio executives and concession distributors. This week, some of Hollywood's biggest names —
The event is meant to give cinema owners a sense of what will lure audiences to their theaters in the coming months. This year, all six major studios will highlight the movies they will be releasing later in 2014, though the emphasis is typically placed on special effects-laden summer fare.
At times, CinemaCon allows for an odd mix of work and play. On Tuesday, following a screening of "Neighbors," Universal Pictures will put on a movie-themed "frat party" complete with beer pong, kegs and the hip-hop dance crew Jabbawockeez. Conference attendees can peruse two massive trade-show floors filled with plush theater seats, gourmet icees and more. Some even skip lunch to splurge on a meal composed of hot dogs, popcorn, candy and massive sodas that would drive former New York
The four-day-long event kicked off Monday evening, when Paramount Pictures was scheduled to trot out
Later that day,
"If Johnny wants to wave, he's gonna wave," Dan Fellman, president of domestic distribution for Warner Bros., said with a chuckle. "People find it quirky. Maybe it's part of his persona. It doesn't' bother anybody. I think everyone appreciates that he came even just to wave."
Depp won't be sticking around, however, for the Big Screen Achievement Awards late Thursday — though plenty of others will. The lineup of those being honored by the National Assn. of Theatre Owners reads a lot like the lineup for the studio presentations: Barrymore and Sandler, for instance, are being named the female and male stars of the year, and Woodley has been deemed the female star of tomorrow.
"This is not the
Which isn't to say that the trophies are entirely meaningless to the stars.
"I swear to God, Dakota Fanning wrote this sweet note on letterhead with all of her I's dotted with hearts," he said. "There's a relaxed atmosphere. People aren't worried about what they're wearing. They can be funky. And everyone likes getting awards."
Corrected: An earlier version of this story contained a typo in Mitch Neuhauser's final quote. "They can be frumpy" has been corrected to "They can be funky."