Sony opens CinemaCon with stunning show of new footage

Frankie TAGGART
Sony set the tone for what is expected to be a week of surprises with exclusive footage at CinemaCon in Las Vegas

Sony kicked off the annual CinemaCon convention in Las Vegas Monday with an array of stars and plenty of thrills in never-before-seen footage of its upcoming slate of movies.

Hollywood decamps to the Nevada desert for four days every year for the gathering, where theater operators are offered exclusive previews the movies they can expect to be showing over the coming year.

Sony set the tone for what is expected to be a week of surprises with exclusive footage from "Blade Runner 2049," "Spider Man: Homecoming," "The Dark Tower" and many other blockbusters due to hit theaters over summer and beyond.

Among the stars presenting on stage at Caesar's Palace were Jon Hamm, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Tom Holland, Nick Jonas and Jack Black.

The presentation kicked off with the opening minutes of heist thriller "Baby Driver," with Sony announcing they were moving the film's release forward six weeks to June 28.

Director Edgar Wright ("Shaun of the Dead") revealed he had risked life and limb to make sure he got the perfect shots of the getaway car during high octane chase scenes filmed in Atlanta, Georgia.

"I took to strapping myself to the car, on the outside of the car like Mad Max," Wright, 42, told the audience.

"I was genuinely suffering for my art, so I could see the actors' faces... I now know what it is like to go backwards at 70 miles per hour."

- Crowd-pleasing -

Next up was a look at the big screen treatment of horror novelist Stephen King's fantasy series "The Dark Tower," starring Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey and due out in July.

The project has been shrouded in secrecy, with plans for a trailer shelved last year, so it was an exclusive for the CinemaCon delegates, who were treated to plenty of crowd-pleasing slo-mo shoot-outs.

Sony lightened the tone with footage from its upcoming animated slate, including "Smurfs: The Lost Village," Christian comedy "The Star" and "The Emoji Movie," which appears to put the "poop" emoji front and center.

Then Marvel chief Kevin Feige introduced footage from "Spider-Man: Homecoming" which gave the audience a first look at Michael Keaton as the webslinger's arch-nemesis The Vulture.

Sony movies chief Tom Rothman came to the stage to present stunning new footage from "Blade Runner 2049," showing a darker-looking movie than Ridley Scott's 1982 original.

"Netflix my ass," he quipped after wowing the crowd with bleak scenes from Los Angeles and a snow-bound Las Vegas, all of which were filmed in Budapest.

Denis Villeneuve's "Blade Runner 2049" stars Ryan Gosling as the LAPD's Officer K while Harrison Ford reprises his role as Rick Deckard from the original.

It is already one of the most hotly anticipated movies of the year six months ahead of its release, but that didn't stop Rothman taking a swipe at new kid on the block Netflix.

- DiCaprio's 'whining' -

The internet streamer has found itself in conflict with movie theater operators in the past because its original content goes straight to viewers' TVs and mobile devices.

The comic highlight of the evening came with Dwayne Johnson bringing on castmates Nick Jonas, Karen Gillan and Jack Black to present footage from "Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle," a remake of 1995's "Jumanji" starring Robin Williams.

The segment started off respectably enough, with Johnson paying tribute to the late Williams and recalling his nerves at meeting his comic hero.

But then Black hilariously brought down the tone by complaining about harsh conditions -- "the mosquitoes, the heat, the hellish terrain" -- during the shoot in Hawaii.

"A lot of people make a big deal about how awesome it was that Leonardo DiCaprio braved the ice-cold tundra in 'The Revenant,'" he ventured.

"I don't want to hear his whining. You try to make a movie in Hawaii... We got centipedes nipping at the sack, so I don't wanna hear it, DiCap!"

In an action-packed presentation lasting almost two hours, Sony also squeezed in footage from Diederik Van Rooijen's horror "Cadaver," Taraji P. Henson's starring role as an assassin in "Proud Mary," and a remake of 1990 horror "Flatliners," starring Ellen Page and Diego Luna.