CinemaCon: The five biggest winners from Warner Bros.' packed slate

CinemaCon: The five biggest winners from Warner Bros.' packed slate
Christina Applegate and Ed Helms discuss their upcoming film "Vacation" during the Warner Bros. presentation at CinemaCon on Tuesday in Las Vegas. (Chris Pizzello / Invision / Associated Press)

Warner Bros. is one of Hollywood's most prolific studios, often releasing more movies in a year than anyone else in town.

Accordingly, the studio's presentation at the CinemaCon trade show in Las Vegas on Tuesday was packed with teasers of more than two dozen upcoming releases, including the earthquake thriller "San Andreas," Ron Howard's whale-hunting drama "In the Heart of the Sea" and the "Point Break" remake. The studio flew in big stars to promote the films: Reese Witherspoon, Sofia Vergara, Channing Tatum, Charlize Theron, Dwayne Johnson, Henry Cavill. To emcee the proceedings, Warner Bros. even had "Extra" host Mario Lopez handling the microphone instead of a dry studio executive.


There was a lot of juicy stuff unveiled at the annual conference for theater owners, which runs through Thursday, but we sifted through the slate and picked the top five films we think you'll be excited about.


The reboot of Chevy Chase's iconic National Lampoon series has been a question mark ever since it went into development five years ago. After Ed Helms was cast as Rusty Griswold, production was put on hold as the studio tried to figure out if the comedy should be more of a PG-13 or R-rated play.

Apparently, though, the wait was worth it. A trailer of the July release easily won the most laughs during Warner Bros.' presentation, beginning with Helms himself, who came on stage with Christina Applegate before the video began.

"Vegas. I've never been here before," the actor kidded, referring to his work in the Sin City-set "Hangover" franchise.

He went on to recall how he saved up his babysitting money to see the original "Vacation." To which one-time "Married with Children" star Applegate -- who plays Helms' wife in the movie -- quipped: "I was really famous back then, so they sent it to my screening room and I watched it with Molly Ringwald, which was a trip."

As for the clip itself, it appears that the filmmakers decided to go with the R-rated approach. The Griswold children are foulmouthed, and in one scene, Chris Hemsworth -- playing Rusty's brother-in-law -- has a boxers-only cameo in which he appears to be hilariously well-endowed.


After Ryan Coogler's stunning debut with "Fruitvale," Hollywood was eager to see what the young director would do next. He settled on "Creed," reteaming with Michael B. Jordan in a film about the son of Rocky Balboa's late opponent, Apollo Creed. The actor and the filmmaker came to Vegas with Sylvester Stallone to talk up the spinoff, which Stallone assured the crowd is not "Rocky 7."

"I pretty much thought the Rocky journey was over -- and in a way, it is," said Stallone, 68. "This is the beginning of a new era .... This is about a man who has to find his own way. A whole different culture. My story's been told."

Coogler, who also wrote the film, said the idea for the movie came from his own relationship with his father, who he described as a "massive Rocky fan."

"Before I had [sports] games, we'd watch 'Rocky' do this or do that in these different situations, and that really informed my life," the filmmaker said. "[Then] my father and I went through something really traumatic, and like most artists, I vented through my art."

Jordan, who is also in town to promote his role as the Human Torch in "Fantastic Four," clearly committed to the role. He plays a young boxer attempting to live up to his father's legacy, begging Rocky to help him train even though the elder boxer insists those days are behind him. Expect a lot of emotional scenes inside the ring, an interesting love story with up-and-comer Tessa Thompson and a bulked-up looking star.

"We Are Your Friends"


After years of trying to break free of the "High School Musical" shadow, Zac Efron finally came into his own on the big screen last summer in "Neighbors." His next role in "We Are Your Friends" is less comedic: He plays an aspiring DJ who is trying to break free from a life cleaning pools with his buddies in the Valley.

Warner Bros. showed the first trailer of the film on Tuesday, and it looks pretty good. The film marks the directorial debut of Max Joseph, who serves as Nev Schulman's right-hand-man (and cameraman) on MTV's "Catfish." Thankfully, it doesn't seem like "We Are Your Friends" has any of the handheld camerawork Joseph employs on "Catfish," but there is a fresh, youthful look to the film.

And yes, Zefron fans, the 27-year-old does appear shirtless in the movie. As if that was even a real question.

"Black Mass"

Johnny Depp has had a tough go of it at the box office over the last few years, misfiring with "The Lone Ranger," "Transcendence" and "Mortdecai." But the actor seems set on proving his worth again with September's "Black Mass," in which he takes on notorious Boston crime boss Whitey Bulger.

If you saw any of the leaked paparazzi shots from Scott Cooper's set, you know that Depp went through a pretty intense physical transformation for the role. He has cloudy blue contacts, a bald cap and decaying teeth. Onstage, Cooper touted the actor's performance as one "for the ages," and it was evident in the trailer shown to exhibitors that Depp's transformation was more than just physical. He nails the Boston accent, and seems to have the creepy intensity one imagines is inherent in a mass murderer.

"Magic Mike XXL"

If there was any doubt that "Magic Mike XXL" was going to be huge at the box office this summer, the cast's appearance at Caesars Palace on Tuesday eliminated it. The crowd went wild as the cast -- which includes Channing Tatum, Matt Bomer and Joe Manganiello -- came out on stage and began a Chippendales-esque striptease.

"We figured, we're in Vegas," Bomer said, beginning to take his clothes off.

"No," Manganiello said, "Never give away for free what people would gladly pay for. And they're going to be lined up around the block to pay for this."

Seriously. The stripper flick looks like it will easily please fans of the first film, and could bring in a new crowd with its marketing campaign. The trailer the crowd saw here this week was so overtly sexual that it elicited a lot of laughter.

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