Warner Bros.’ ‘A Star Is Born’ and ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ get enthusiastic reactions at CinemaCon
Warner Bros. Pictures upped the star power on Tuesday night as the studio promoted its film slate for theater owners at CinemaCon, the annual film industry conference in Las Vegas.
The Burbank studio packed the Colosseum stage at Caesars Palace with celebrities (including Sandra Bullock, Anne Hathaway and Eddie Redmayne) from hoped-for blockbusters such as “Oceans 8,” “Mowgli” and the next “Fantastic Beasts” installment, to be interviewed by Will Arnett.
The bullpen of stars was so deep, half of the big names barely got a chance to speak at the event. The end of the presentation featured an impressive group photo op.
The studio drew enthusiastic responses with footage from movies such as Bradley Cooper’s remake of “A Star Is Born” and “Crazy Rich Asians,” starring Constance Wu. It also previewed footage from DC’s “Aquaman” and teased information about the “Wonder Woman” sequel.
The biggest bet on the Warner Bros. lineup may be “A Star Is Born.” Three versions of that movie already have been made, most recently in 1976, starring Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson. The new remake of the classic musical love story stars Bradley Cooper as a musician in decline who helps a young singer (Lady Gaga) find fame.
Cooper, a first-time director guiding the ambitious project, acknowledged the risk factor as he introduced the movie’s trailer. He said that he took vocal lessons before filming and that he and Gaga both sang live, filming portions of the movie onstage at the Glastonbury and Coachella music festivals.
“It’s a big swing, this movie — I totally get that,” he told the audience in Las Vegas. “But you can’t control what moves you. … You can’t really contrive or manufacture something that moves you, and I always wanted to tell a love story.”
The movie was initially slated for release in May but was recently pushed to October, and the studio appears to be priming it as an awards-season contender. Gaga did not attend Tuesday’s presentation.
Warner Bros. also got a rousing response for “Crazy Rich Asians,” based on Kevin Kwan’s best-selling novel about a woman (Wu) who travels to Singapore to meet her boyfriend’s incredibly wealthy family. The romantic comedy is the first movie with an all-Asian cast that has been produced by a Hollywood studio in a quarter of a century, a milestone met with applause from the CinemaCon crowd.
Wu said “Crazy Rich Asians” is important because of its nuanced contribution to representation in Hollywood. The industry has long been criticized for not supporting non-white and non-male talent, despite frequent examples that show the bankability of diverse storytelling. Wu emphasized that the diverse elements of the film are authentic, not about “checking off a quota.”
“What I think is so special about this film is that it really differentiates the Asian experience from the Asian American experience, which a lot of time in Hollywood, they don’t do,” Wu said. “By having a film like this, it shows that our culture is not just skin deep.”
Jon M. Chu directed the film, which hits theaters Aug. 17.
As for Warner Bros.’s crucial lineup of DC superhero films, horror maestro James Wan teased footage of the upcoming, much-anticipated “Aquaman,” showing Jason Momoa in his tattooed underwater glory. Wan appeared reluctant to show the clips, noting the rough, incomplete visual effects.
“Have you ever wanted to play a character who wears a shirt?” Arnett asked Momoa, previously best known for his short-lived role as Khal Drogo on HBO’s “Game of Thrones.”
In other DC bits, Warner previewed its movie based on the comic hero “Shazam,” described as Tom Hanks’ character in 1988’s “Big,” but with superpowers. The studio also confirmed that the upcoming “Wonder Woman” film — the sequel to the World War I-set blockbuster — would be set in the 1980s.
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