Sneak peek of Sony's 'This Is the End' plays to enthusiastic crowd

LAS VEGAS -- The head of the National Assn. of Theatre Owners may want Hollywood to make fewer R-rated movies, but the exhibitors at CinemaCon this week seem to be eager for more.

During nearly every studio presentation here this week, the movies getting the most enthusiastic response have been the raunchiest. On Wednesday night, Sony Pictures revealed a sneak peek of its upcoming 2013 films, from the action flick “White House Down” to Tom Hanks’ pirate thriller “Captain Phillips” -- but the one that seemed to play best was the R-rated comedy “This Is the End.”

The June release, starring a slew of comedic actors including James Franco, Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill as themselves as they face an apocalypse, inspired uproarious laughter inside the Colosseum at Caesars Palace. One especially crude scene between Franco and Danny McBride arguing about ejaculation practices was a particular favorite in the auditorium.

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Still, there was plenty left for a more family-friendly audience, including the sequels “The Smurfs 2,” “Grown Ups 2” and “One Direction: This Is Us.”

The latter production, a concert film following the boy band, is sure to be a favorite among the group’s young female fans -- especially since one of the members of the group appeared shirtless even in the brief trailer. Sony is no doubt hoping the film will also appeal to mothers, as the movie gives lots of screen time to the group members’ parents. (In one scene, band member Zayn Malik buys his mother a house.)

The cast of “Grown Ups 2” kicked off the presentation, as Adam Sandler, David Spade, Kevin James and Salma Hayek were carried onstage in chariots lifted by muscular men.

“I need to check in with my chariot carriers,” the hefty James said after being put down. “I think they are throwing up and groaning now.”

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Sandler played to the crowd, assuring the theater owners that “Grown Ups 2” is “dare I say a ... four-quadrant movie?”

“I think it’s a sweet, funny movie ... it’s PG-13 but very family-friendly,” the actor said. “A lot of mothers and fathers talked to us about ‘Grown Ups’ and we tried to make sure that with this, when they play it in their minivans on DVDs for their kids, that they feel good with it.”

The studio also offered a quick snippet of its more serious-minded year-end fare, including David O. Russell’s next project reteaming him with his “Silver Linings Playbook” stars Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper. Sony announced that the movie about the Abscam scandal, also starring Christian Bale and Amy Adams, will officially be called “American Hustle.”

A very chilly-looking George Clooney and producer Grant Heslov sent word via video message from the Berlin set of “The Monuments Men.” The movie is about a crew of art historians and museum curators who unite to race to recover artworks stolen by Nazis before Hitler destroys them.

“We’re sorry we can’t be at Comic-Con tonight,” Clooney joked, his cheeks red. He then launched into another bit, thanking exhibitors for their support on Warner Bros.’ “Argo” last year while clutching his best picture Oscar.


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