Warner Bros. shows off star directors Snyder, Phillips, Del Toro

LAS VEGAS -- At CinemaCon, most studios charm movie theater owners by putting their best-looking stars center stage. On Tuesday, however, Warner Bros. went a different route, opting to promote its summer slate with the help of its most recognizable filmmakers.

Zack Snyder was here to show off a new trailer from his take on Superman, “Man of Steel.” Guillermo del Toro spoke of his passion for his big-budget robot tale “Pacific Rim.” Todd Phillips, the director behind “The Hangover” franchise, was meant to talk about the third installment of the comedy series -- but he also took the opportunity to try to liven up the crowd.

“Let’s wake this up a little,” said Phillips, who arrived on stage after the studio’s distribution chief, Dan Fellman, and movie division President Jeff Robinov had spoken at length about how successful Warner Bros. has been and will continue to be.

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Phillips, who in an interview later admitted he was a bit drunk during the presentation, certainly made an impression on the crowd. He told the audience that he had recently been asked if he was worried about “The Hangover Part III” opening on the same weekend in May as Universal’s “Fast & Furious 6.”

Apparently not: “Come on, it’s ... Vin Diesel and the Rock,” he said, using some colorful language.

Ultimately, exhibitors seemed most invigorated by the trailer for “Man of Steel,” which depicted Clark Kent being given away as a baby, realizing his powers as a child and ultimately maturing into an adult superhero.

When he first met with Christopher Nolan and wife Emma about the possibility of taking on “Man of Steel,” Snyder said, he was fearful.

“I wasn’t sure if I had something poignant to say about Superman. I had so much respect for the character and I just wasn’t sure what I had to give him,” the director said. “I really hope I can give you something awesome.”

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Del Toro, meanwhile, seemed the most confident in his upcoming project, which tells the story of robots piloted by soldiers who must defend themselves against monsters from the sea. The filmmaker waxed poetic about the three-year-long process of making the $190-million production, saying that at 48 the experience of making the movie had changed his life.

“This allowed me to try a scope and a palette that I hadn’t tried before,” he said. “The summer is a very special time for movies ... it’s not only a time to create big, loud, beautiful movies, but to engage in world creation. It’s a massive window for the audience to be able to see our world populated by things they will never see in real life.”

Warner Bros. also showed snippets from the rest of its 2013 slate, including the sequel “300: Rise of an Empire”; the Hugh Jackman abduction drama “Prisoners”; and “Gravity,” in which Sandra Bullock plays an astronaut spiraling through space.

The Warner Bros. presentation took place hours after National Assn. of Theatre Owners President and Chief Executive John Fithian had urged Hollywood to make less R-rated fare. As it happens, however, the biggest laughs during the studio’s slate came in response to a graphic trailer for the Jennifer Aniston-Jason Sudeikis comedy “We’re the Millers,” in which a character’s genitals swell after a tarantula attack.


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