Day two of CinemaCon kicked off with The State of the Industry: Past, Present and Future Presentation. We got a look at a snazzy display of 2012’s $100 million earners and talked at length about the state of the box office, the MPAA’s future plans, and more, but the show really started when Universal Pictures Chairman Adam Fogelson took the podium to show off the studio’s past hits and highly anticipated summer slate.
While scrolling through Universal’s 2012 successes including “Ted” and “The Lorax,” Fogelson announced that “Pitch Perfect” scribe, Kay Cannon, is officially on board to pen the sequel. Then, after noting that 2012 was the studio’s biggest year ever, he recognized that even with the great success, there were some disappointments, namely “Battleship,” which significantly underperformed last May. However, on behalf of the entire Universal team, Fogelson put a positive spin on the situation, stressing that the company learned a lot from the experience and that they still believe in director Peter Berg as a filmmaker and are thrilled to be working with him on his next project, “Lone Survivor.”
Before moving on to the main event, Fogelson highlighted the upcoming Universal films that weren’t part of the footage presentation – the horror thriller “The Purge,” the return of “Riddick,” Ron Howard’s “Rush,” “About Time” featuring Rachel McAdams, Bill Nighy, and Domhnall Gleeson, the Malcolm D. Lee comedy “Best Man Holiday,” the Keanu Reeves-starrer “47 Ronan,” and the 2014 release, “Ride Along.”
This July 19th release features Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges in the story of recently killed cop, Nick Walker (Reynolds), who doesn’t go to heaven, rather the Rest in Peace Department where he’s assigned to keep evil demons at bay back in the world of the living.
The sneak peek was an extended trailer of sorts. It began with Walker engaging in a heated warehouse invasion. There’s explosions and gunfire before Walker dives headfirst from one floor to the next. He gets up and walks away through a sea of paused action and violence before being sucked up into a stormy hole in the sky.
In a sterile office-like space, Mary-Louise Parker’s Procter informs Walker that he’s indeed dead, but that he still possesses skills that are valuable to the Rest in Peace Department. Walker is assigned a partner, seasoned R.I.P.D. operative who resembles a gun slinging cowboy, Roy Pulsipher (Bridges). Pulsipher takes Walker through the basics, showing off what the duo is up against, a brigade of demons including one with a face that’s peppered with eyeballs.
It’s then revealed that while Walker and Pulsipher see each other as they looked the days they died, the living can only see their alter egos. Walker is an old Chinese guy and Pulsipher gets to be a hot blond.
Back in Walker and Pulsipher form, they track down a potential suspect. After bursting through an apartment door, an average man reveals himself to be a tall, lanky demon. In the heat of the chase, the demon opts to hurl himself out a window to escape. Already dead, Pulsipher follows and takes Walker with him after which Pulsipher jokes, “You might notice we’re pretty durable.” Funny thing is, while Pulsipher and Walker watch their dead selves pop right back up after taking brutal hits, the living see the hot blond hurled against the windshield of a bus and a poor old Chinese man crushed by an oncoming vehicle.
So far, “R.I.P.D” looks like a brutal, supernatural blast. Reynolds and Bridges are oozing with chemistry while the R.I.P.D. world is loaded with curious and wildly entertaining details.
“Contraband” director Baltasar Kormákur’s “2 Guns” was next, and the film’s extended look hinted at a significant amount of action, some humor and a noticeably intricate relationship between Mark Wahlberg’s Stig and Denzel Washington’s Bobby.
The piece opened up with Stig and Bobby outside a coffee shop discussing an upcoming heist after which the pair bursts into a bank donning a creepy clown and zombie mask. They make off with $40 million and mere seconds after reveling in their haul, the guys pull guns on one another and it’s revealed that Washington is actually DEA and Stig is Special Forces. It isn’t precisely clear what the two were doing posing as bank robbers in the first place nor how their respective organizations come to turn on them, but ultimately, the tale becomes a love-hate relationship with the duo being forced to work together to recover the money and get out of the mess alive.
Washington is hauled in by Bill Paxton’s Earl who demands the money within 24 hours or else. Before coming to a close, the piece shoots off a few notable action sequences one of which has Stig and Bobby hanging upside down as a bull threatens to bash their heads in below and another during which Bobby opts to “make it rain” and blows up a nearby car causing the money inside to pour down around them.
The narrative details were a little tough to follow so it’s unclear exactly where this story’s going, but there was a good deal of talk about trust between Stig and Bobby, so expect the duo’s arc to involve some double-crossing, a necessary trust, and the need to figure out which of the two each character is more dedicated to and when.
“Kick-Ass 2” rolled through next and, unfortunately, the footage was merely an extended cut of the red band trailer. After the scene of Mindy (Chloe Moretz) and Dave (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) sparring we get a lengthier look at Hit Girl’s throw down in the alley, which, in this showing, culminated in a closer look at the thug’s painful demise.
From there we get a new scene during which a brigade of high school girls get a laugh out of the fact that Mindy’s never kissed a boy. One jokes, “Maybe she’s a dyke,” to which Mindy keeps true to form and responds, “Maybe I’ll jam my foot up your snatch.” We also get a peek at John Leguizamo’s Javier who’s working as Chris D’Amico (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) chauffer, but refuses to call him by his new super villain name. D’Amico takes pleasure in that his superpower is being “rich as s***” and puts together a vicious looking crew including a former KGB agent and Black Death. The piece also included a cemetery sequence, which looks to be an epic throw down involving Hit Girl in Mindy form.
Ultimately, this lengthier look reiterated that the sequel is going to be bigger, badder, and far more brutal than round one with a bigger contingent of heroes and villains, more outstanding battle sequences, and some significant developments for Dave and Mindy beyond their alter egos.
Now this was the highlight of the Universal presentation – 20 minutes of minions. The display consisted of a string of lengthier scenes showing off the entire gang including Gru, Edith, Agnes, Margo, the Minions, as well as newcomers Lucy Wilde and the evil Eduardo.
First up was a clip that featured a slew of minions living it up in a tropical paradise. The moment is loaded with amusing details including a green popsicle forever hanging from one minion’s tongue, another’s coconut bra, and one that strips down revealing his backside before running into the ocean. Gru announces, “Minions assemble,” and we’re taken to another minion party, but down in Gru’s lair. Naturally the minions are having a blast, but Gru notes, “We need to revisit the number of occasion days you get.”
Next is yet another party, Agnes’ birthday party. The festivities take place in their backyard and consist of typically harmless play structures with amusingly dark additives like piranhas in a kiddie pool and Gru’s pet Kyle dressed as a ferocious dragon. The minions arrive to save the day and slay the dragon, but end up beating each other instead while Gru argues on the phone about the fairy princess he ordered who’s bound to be a no-show.
In order to make sure Agnes gets the birthday party of her dreams, Gru floats down from the roof of the house courtesy of a minion-operated pulley system, dressed as the fairy princess. The gaggle of girls seemingly buy it, but when everyone else runs off to play, Agnes returns and tells him “I know it’s really you, Gru. I’m just pretending for the other kids.”
There’s some talk about an adult partygoer named Jillian setting Gru up with a friend, making for the perfect transition into a scene during which Agnes recites her mother’s day show speech for adopted father. After earning a laugh by trying to coax her out of giving a painfully robotic show, a deflated Agnes relents and suggests maybe she shouldn’t perform. After all, she doesn’t even have a mother. Gru swoops in yet again to lift her spirits, suggesting that using her imagination might help.
After a bittersweet moment during which Agnes agrees to pretend she has a mother, we meet Kristen Wiig’s Lucy Wilde in an extended version of her meet-and-greet with Gru from the trailer. After Gru loses the battle of the dueling freeze and fire rays and is knocked out by Lucy’s lipstick taser, she shoves him into her trunk and takes off. Two minions catch sight of the abduction and run after them, indulging in a chase sequence that involves one minion enjoying the ride by cruising in a box as the other pulls him along by his suspenders.
When the box-riding minion becomes a parachuting minor courtesy of a rogue sheet, Lucy catches sight of the action and hauls them. She zips the car through a town before taking it off a peer and into the water. The vehicle sinks down and continues to travel through the sea with Lucy using her windshield wipers to shoo away an octopus and honking her horn at a passing school of fish. Eventually, she reaches her destination, a gigantic submerged submarine.
Inside the facility her car is washed and dried with a massive blow dryer and towel after which she pops the trunk and lets Gru out. She welcomes Gru to the AVL, Anti Villain League, and takes him to meet the head of operations, Silas Ramsbottom (voiced by Steve Coogan). Ramsbottom explains that Gru’s villainous know-how could help them catch the notorious Eduardo (voiced by Al Pacino) before the clip launches into a peek at Eduardo’s past. Dressed in a costume that looks quite a bit like Nacho Libre’s wrestling attire, Eduardo stalks through a desert town and then robs an armored bank truck singlehandedly. Gru points out that Eduardo is actually long gone, having died after jumping into a volcano with dynamite strapped to his chest while aboard a shark, but apparently, that’s not the case as the AVL needs his help to bring Eduardo in once and for all.
From there it’s announced that Lucy is to be Gru’s partner and we shift to a scene during which the minion Dave lays eyes on her for the first time, falling instantly in love and imaging them living happily ever after. Just after that, Gru introduces Edith, Agnes, and Margo to Lucy and Agnes experiences a similar sensation, dreaming that Lucy could become her mother and blurting out, “Are you single?”
Next up is a shot of two minions waiting in a car outside the mall late at night while Lucy and Gru sneak into a restaurant. After chiding Lucy for spraying for booby trap laser beams, Gru trips a booby trap of his own, ringing a bell and summoning a cute, but curious little chicken. The chicken seems innocent, but eventually attacks, sending Gru into a tizzy as the creature burrows under his shirt. In his hysteria, Gru runs around, demolishing the restaurant before Lucy steps in and uses her watch to zap the chicken and imprison it in a glass ball or sorts.
The chunky restaurant owner comes in to see what all the commotion is about, lays eyes on the devastation and explodes. Fortunately, Lucy and Gru get away just in time and call the minions for a ride out. The minions drive the car straight into the mall, but are too short to see Lucy and Gru coming, drive right by them and up the escalator. Gru grabs Lucy and uses a grappling hook device to pull them up to the second floor, but, yet again, the minions zip by. However, just before the chunky restaurant owner can slice and dice Gru and Lucy with his handful of knives, the minions plow him over.
Before wrapping up the “Despicable Me 2” display, we got a trailer that shows off a few more new clips with one sequence showing Margo upset on a date. Gru swoops in and spots the culprit, a boy dancing with another girl. He whisks Margo away, but before leaving the restaurant, zaps the boy with his freeze ray for good measure. The concluding material featured our two favorite minions sitting in chairs, one wearing the coconut bra and the other dressed as a maid. The maid minion takes an injection to the neck and transforms into a purple monster. Coconut bra minion gets a good laugh before getting an injection of his own after which the video cuts to black.
Fun characters and weapons, a hefty dose of minion shenanigans, and a notable degree of emotion and heart, “Despicable Me 2” looks to bring back everything we appreciated in round one and more.
Last up was an extended look at the sixth installment of the “Fast & Furious” franchise. Again, the material was basically the trailer with a few new shots, more hand-to-hand combat, moments showing Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) hanging with Owen Shaw (Luke Evans), and an amusing scene during, which our heroes realize that by hunting Shaw’s crew, they’re basically hunting their twins, pointing out the similarities between the two groups.
Fogelson then came back out on stage and brought out producer Neal H. Moritz, Gina Carano, Sung Kang, Tyrese Gibson, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Paul Walker, and Vin Diesel. Minus Diesel’s announcement that “Fast & Furious 7” is locked to hit theaters on July 11, 2014, the group primarily talked about how they’ve become a family over the years and how that family vibe in reality has enhanced the material in the film.
After the gang left the stage, we got one last look at the May 24th release and it was a good one. You know that scene in the trailer during which Ludicrous warns the crew that the enemy has acquired a tank? We saw it in full.
The scene arrives in the middle of the film and features Letty, Owen, and a few evil lackeys moving in to attack a convoy cruising along on a two-way highway. They pull up behind a massive truck and board the vehicle. Dom, Brian, and Roman are in route via appropriately souped up Red, Blue, and White vehicles while two others engage via motorcycles. They set up a thick black rope across the highway to stop the commandeered convoy, but even after demolishing the lead jeep and slicing right through the truck, a tank explodes out of the wreckage and continues on.
While the motorcycle riders take out one more enemy jeep, Dom, Brian, and Roman focus on the tank. Meanwhile, inside that tank, Letty shows signs of apprehension as Owen plows over pedestrian vehicles, demolishing everything he can. He takes a break from ravaging the innocent to blow Roman’s vehicle away. He misses, but Roman’s car is forced in front of the tank, the tank then pushing it along. Before abandoning ship, Roman ties a cable to the tank. He jumps onto Brian’s car just in time because his is quickly sucked under the tank, flattened and then dragged behind.
Brian makes an attempt to knock the pancake of a car over the ledge to act as an anchor and stop the tank in its tracks while Owen instructs Letty to cut it loose. Fully aware that Letty is in a vulnerable position, Owen maneuvers the tank causing Letty to fly right off of it. Having been driving right alongside the action, Dom leaps from his own car, right towards Letty, but before the two can indulge in a mid-air embrace, the clip comes to a close.
As someone who appreciates the “Fast & Furious” franchise, but doesn’t necessarily eat it up, this clip was undeniably exhilarating. There’s a significant amount of outlandish action, but it’s engaging enough to entice you to push realism aside and enjoy the ride.