CinemaCon 2016: Four ‘Avatar’ sequels are on the way

Hollywood players have descended on Las Vegas to talk up upcoming feature films and look back on the last year’s successes. New films such as “Finding Dory,” “Captain America: Civil War,” “Passengers” and “The Free State of Jones” are being teased at the event, but audience members griped that Paramount Pictures, which faces an uncertain future, did not screen footage from its upcoming movie “Star Trek Beyond.” Sony Pictures also confirmed there will be a “Jump Street,” “MIB” mashup. And AMC CEO Adam Aron discussed how to bring millennials back to theaters.

Universal touts ‘The Girl on the Train,’ ‘Warcraft’ and ‘Jason Bourne’

Emily Blunt in "The Girl on the Train."
(Barry Wetcher / Universal Pictures)

There has been some grumbling among industry folks who traveled to CinemaCon this year that studios aren’t really showing anything new. In an age when fans clamor for teasers and trailers to debut earlier and earlier online, Hollywood has started giving sneak peeks of their films many months -- and sometimes years -- in advance of a movie’s release.

That wasn’t the case with Universal Pictures, whose chairwoman, Donna Langley, told the crowd of movie theater owners gathered here Wednesday that all material the studio would be sharing was “created specifically for CinemaCon.”

A majority of that material involved the studio’s animated slate, but Universal also gave conference-goers a first glimpse at some of its most anticipated live-action releases, including “The Girl on the Train,” “Warcraft” and “Jason Bourne.”

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James Cameron promises four ‘Avatar’ sequels starting in 2018

James Cameron hasn’t made a public appearance here since 2011, as he’s been off working on his long-awaited “Avatar” sequels. Though he’d previously announced three sequels to his 2009 smash hit, Cameron explained that he’s now planning on making four sequels instead.

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Ready for more ‘Avatar’?

Benedict Cumberbatch to star in ‘The Grinch Who Stole Christmas’ reboot

Universal Pictures devoted at least half of its two-hour presentation this Wednesday at the Las Vegas CinemaCon convention to its animation slate, putting a large emphasis on the profitable “Despicable Me” franchise and hanging its hopes on a"Grinch” reboot.

The biggest news? Benedict Cumberbatch, who is currently in production on Marvel’s “Doctor Strange,” will voice the Grinch in an adaptation of 2000’s live-action “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”

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Chief executive of AMC brings hospitality to the film industry

There's a lot of interest these days in whether millennials will be as interested in going to movie theaters as baby boomers have been, says Adam Aron, CEO of AMC Entertainment.
There’s a lot of interest these days in whether millennials will be as interested in going to movie theaters as baby boomers have been, says Adam Aron, CEO of AMC Entertainment.
(Frederic J. Brown / AFP/Getty Images)

Adam Aron was, until recently, running Starwood Hotels & Resorts. Just three months ago, he became chief executive of cinema giant AMC Entertainment, catapulting him into one of the top positions in the movie business.

The Los Angeles Times spoke to Aron, 61, at the CinemaCon film industry conference at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas about various topics, including digital shifts in entertainment and how to bring millennials back to theaters. He also weighed in on the touchiest subject of the week: Napster co-founder Sean Parker’s plan to offer movies on demand as soon as they hit theaters for $50 each.

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Disney presentation touches on theatrical gap and ‘Finding Dory’, closes out with ‘Captain America’

At the end of Disney’s CinemaCon presentation, featuring a trailer for Marvel’s “Doctor Strange” and footage from Pixar’s “Finding Dory,” studio distribution chief Dave Hollis delivered a reassuring message to cinema owners in Las Vegas.

“Our commitment to the theatrical window has never, ever been stronger,” Hollis told exhibitors at the Caesars Palace Colosseum on Wednesday morning before screening the company’s “Captain America: Civil War.”

Protecting the exclusive window — the traditional gap between a movie’s theatrical release and when it becomes available on home video — is a recurring theme at the annual film industry conference. But this year, the topic has dominated the conversation, with the emergence of Sean Parker’s proposed video-on-demand startup, Screening Room.

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Disney box office: They’re just rubbing it in now

Disney had a great year at the box office in 2015.
(Chris Pizzello / Invision / Associated Press)

It was revealed earlier at CinemaCon that the global box office hit a record $38.3 billion in 2015.

It wasn’t all Disney, but their presentation certainly made it seem like it. And that $4 billion that they spent to purchase Marvel? When you look at their cumulative box office, it seems like that was money well spent. Next Up: “Captain America: Civil War” and “Doctor Strange.”

Happiest place on Earth, indeed.

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‘Charlie’s Angels’ is making a comeback with Elizabeth Banks as director

Elizabeth Banks is set to direct a reboot of "Charlie's Angels."
(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

Elizabeth Banks will helm a revival of the “Charlie’s Angels” franchise. The news was confirmed during Sony’s presentation at CinemaCon in Las Vegas on Tuesday.

Banks’ profile as a director has catapulted since the commercial success of the girl power a cappella flick “Pitch Perfect 2" -- which grossed over $184 million domestically last year. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, she spoke about the increase in opportunities that have come her way since.

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Confirmed: Ben Affleck will suit up for a standalone Batman film

Margot Robbie on the origins of ‘Suicide Squad’s’ Harley Quinn

In a behind-the-scenes interview at CinemaCon, Margot Robbie confirmed that most of the character’s origin story roots are still in place, and that Harley Quinn uses her past to manipulate the rest of the pack of villains that were all drafted into the “Suicide Squad.”

“She’s definitely one of the more unpredictable members of the squad,” Robbie said.

“She also used to be a psychiatrist, so she has an extensive knowledge of mental illnesses and how to manipulate people. I’m sorry, well, she has a lot of knowledge on how to profile people, pick their triggers and as Harley Quinn, she kind of utilizes that to just manipulate people and mess with them. And she definitely does that with the squad. She’s always picking someone to be dissecting and playing off and messing with.”

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Elizabeth Banks will helm a ‘Charlie’s Angels’ reboot

(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

Apparently it’s the season of reboots, and following a less-than-stellar box office year for Sony, the studio is looking to take some gambles.

Insert Elizabeth Banks. The actor-director will helm a revival of the “Charlie’s Angels” franchise. The news was confirmed during Sony’s presentation at CinemaCon in Las Vegas on Tuesday.

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A ‘Jump Street,’ ‘MIB’ crossover is really happening

Jonah Hill, left, and Channing Tatum in "22 Jump Street."
(Glen Wilson / Columbia Pictures)

Does anybody really want another “Men in Black” or “Jump Street”? Sony is hoping audiences might want the two together.

The studio teased the picture during its CinemaCon presentation Tuesday and revealed its title: “MIB 23.”

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Star-studded Sony Pictures presentation

“If you’ve got it, flaunt it.”

Sony Pictures’ Chairman Tom Rothman said that’s the approach the studio took this year at CinemaCon, where the company teased well over a dozen films from its upcoming slate.

Sony showed off everything from low-budget horror (“Don’t Breathe,” “When The Bough Breaks”) to animated fare (“Angry Birds,” “Sausage Party”) to blockbuster hopefuls (the “Ghostbusters” reboot and the new “Spider-Man” film).

The studio also flew in a handful of stars to promote the films, including Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt, Melissa McCarthy and Tom Holland.

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Who ya gonna call?

Space travelers: Jennifer Lawrence & Chris Pratt

Paramount Pictures wilts under the spotlight

At the annual industry conference known as CinemaCon, movie studios try to wow theater owners with A-list movie stars, chats with famous directors and sizzling trailers for big-budget film projects. But Paramount Pictures’ presentation underwhelmed.

The studio’s presentation at the Las Vegas event included an awkward exchange between Megan Fox and Will Arnett, stars of the sequel to “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.” Audience members griped that the studio did not screen footage from its upcoming movie “Star Trek Beyond.” And acclaimed director J.J. Abrams ruffled feathers when he suggested to a crowd of cinema owners that they needed to adapt to changing consumer habits.

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Megan Fox’s baby bump steals the CinemaCon spotlight

The star of Monday’s CinemaCon in Las Vegas? Megan Fox’s baby bump.

The 29-year-old actress was in curvier form than ever, appearing with “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” costar Will Arnett as they promoted the film at the annual convention of theater owners.

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‘Jurassic World,’ ‘Star Wars’ helped 2015’s worldwide box office break records

The film industry enjoyed a record $38.3 billion in global ticket sales last year, driven by blockbuster movies and the growing international box office.

The worldwide film market increased 5% in 2015 thanks to billion-dollar films including “Jurassic World,” “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” according to a report released Tuesday by the Motion Picture Assn. of America.

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NATO’s John Fithian wary of Sean Parker’s Screening Room

Sean Parker's proposed Screening Room would give users access to films the day that they're released in theaters, for $50 each.
(Michael Tran / FilmMagic)

Napster founder Sean Parker’s idea to bring theatrical movies to the home earlier has been the talk of the movie industry in recent weeks. But John Fithian, chief executive of the National Assn. of Theatre Owners, called the yet-to-be-launched service a huge “distraction.”

The leader of the cinema trade group defended the movie theaters’ and studios’ traditional way of doing business during Tuesday remarks at the CinemaCon film industry conference in Las Vegas.

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‘Star Wars’ director J.J. Abrams: Movie theater owners must embrace changes

Filmmaker J.J. Abrams accepts the Showman of the Year Award during the Paramount Pictures presentation at CinemaCon 2016.
(Chris Pizzello / Invision)

In front of thousands of cinema owners on Monday night, one of the most powerful filmmakers in Hollywood said the theatrical experience may soon be a thing of the past.

OK, he wasn’t quite that harsh. But J.J. Abrams did urge the crowd at CinemaCon — an annual gathering of exhibitors — to be open to the idea that consumers no longer only want to see films in theaters.

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