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‘Dunkirk’ and ‘Wonder Woman’ Sneaks Inspire CinemaCon, But Warner Bros.’ Plea For Change Does Not

Warner Bros. revealed new footage of Gal Gadot and Chris Pine in Patty Jenkins' "Wonder Woman," while the studio told exhibitors that now was the time for change.

Christopher NolanWarner Bros. Pictures presentation, Arrivals, CinemaCon, Las Vegas, USA - 29 Mar 2017

Christopher Nolan at CinemaCon

Matt Baron/BEI/Shutterstock

Warner Bros. dared to state publicly what others wouldn’t at CinemaCon: The theatrical release paradigm must change, because audiences already have. The packed Colosseum Theatre at Caesars went silent as Sue Kroll, Warners’ president of worldwide marketing and distribution, addressed the crowd.

The film industry is “evolving at a healthy pace that is impossible to ignore,” she said. “Everyone is facing a challenge and also an opportunity when it comes to windowing. It’s being talked about everywhere. As consumer tastes change the way we do business, along with viewing habits and social media, they want more choices on where and how to consume our content, they want the option to engage in different ways… We have to be creative and innovative in addressing the challenges of this dynamic marketplace as we always have, together, as the way to move to a future that will be beneficial and profitable for all of us on a variety platforms.”

Winding up, she added reassuringly, “movie theaters are the cathedral and temple of this art form.” (Conveniently, her boss Kevin Tsuijihara, chairman of Warner Bros. Entertainment, who supports her views and comes from the digital side of the studio, was not on hand.) “He’s in China,” said Kroll, extolling the studio’s $4.9 billion worldwide gross, up 33 percent from 2015 and the second biggest in studio history.

Immediately after, before showing seven minutes from the beginning of Christopher Nolan’s 70 mm World War II epic “Dunkirk” (which screened before “Rogue One” in 70mm IMAX over the holidays), the director emphatically assured exhibitors that “theaters were the only platform” he wants the movie to play, whether in 70 mm or 35 mm or IMAX, he said. That sentiment received sustained applause.

The “Dunkirk” footage is stunning. (More of Nolan’s comments here.)

Also front and center was new footage from Patty Jenkins’ “Wonder Woman.” Israeli military veteran Gal Gadot stole the show in DC’s “Batman v. Superman” and also turns up in Zack Snyder’s follow-up, “Justice League” (December 18) — that film ended the presentation on a bit of a whimper, even with Ben Affleck on hand: He had nothing to say.

“Wonder Woman” marks the first superhero standalone for a woman, as well as the first big-budget comic-book movie to be directed by a woman.

Jenkins and Chris Pine did the honors, with a brief video shoutout from Gadot. In the great-looking new footage, Pine plays an “above-average” American spy during World War I who runs across Wonder Woman but is only starting to figure out her considerable powers. He politely refuses to sleep next to her at first — explaining the concept of marriage, which she doesn’t understand — on an overnight boat trip, but she coaxes him to lie chastely by her side. Who was her father? “My mother sculpted me in clay and Zeus brought me to life,” she explains.

Jason Momoa, Ezra Miller, Zack Snyder, Ben Affleck, Ray Fisher and Henry CavillWarner Bros. Pictures presentation, Arrivals, CinemaCon, Las Vegas, USA - 29 Mar 2017

Jason Momoa, Ezra Miller, Zack Snyder, Ben Affleck, Ray Fisher and Henry Cavill of “Justice League”

Matt Baron/BEI/Shutterstock

Her sincere mission is to find the God of War Ares and remove him from the action in order to weaken the German army. She has a wicked fighting style, a wrist cuff that deflects bullets, and a golden lasso.

Yes, the movie is funny. Jenkins stressed the film’s “humor, love and action.” Pine had seen the movie and said, “it’s visually stunning, shot on film in deep rich colors with the insane kinetic action you expect from the DC superhero universe, a dynamic love story at its core, and a ‘Casablanca’ feel not seen in the universe before.”

The other strong title among a long list of familiar trailers is Guy Ritchie’s “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword,” loosely based on the classic Excalibur myths and “The Sword in the Stone.” The idea, explained Charlie Hunnam, is that Arthur doesn’t necessarily want to be king. He’s grown up on the streets. Jude Law’s King Vortigern recognizes his as a threat and brings him in to try to pull out the sword. “It’s cheeky, naughty, and a lot of fun,” said Hunnam.

Also on the DC front, Jason Momoa was leaving for Australia Wednesday night to shoot “Aquaman” with horror maestro James Wan. Via video, the director showed some of his early designs and concepts, wanting to immerse audiences in Atlantis and show underwater action like they’ve never seen before.

That’s what they all say.

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