Sony Pictures kicked off this year’s return-to-normal CinemaCon on Monday evening as the first major studio to unveil its slate of forthcoming titles at the Las Vegas event. The studio is already the crowned king of Hollywood in 2022 thanks to the massive success of “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” which since releasing in late December cleared $1.89 billion globally and is the sixth highest-grossing movie of all time. No small feat in a pandemic or any other time, really, and with an 88-day theatrical window, as Sony brass pointed out.
The presentation inside the Caesars Palace Colosseum is hosted by Sony Pictures chairman and CEO Tom Rothman, Sony Pictures president Josh Greenstein, president of international releasing Steven O’Dell, and president of domestic releasing Adrian Smith. “When I was here seven months ago, I said theatrical would triumph and indeed it has, and we did it together,” said Greenstein upon the presentation’s start, thanking AMC and Regal especially for rallying to save the theatrical experience.
Sony has a bustling slate to come with titles like this summer’s “Bullet Train,” directed by stunt coordinator and “John Wick” filmmaker David Leitch, and starring Brad Pitt, Joey King, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and Brian Tyree Henry. The film opens July 29. “We made this movie for the big screen. It’s made to be seen in theaters,” Leitch said. New footage was unveiled (and well-received) in the room, with assassin Pitt walking the streets of Tokyo (in a bucket hat) readying for One Last Job.
There’s also Gina Prince-Bythewood’s period historical epic “The Woman King,” starring Viola Davis, “Underground Railroad” breakout Thuso Mbedu, and John Boyega. Davis plays Nanisca, the general of the Dahomey Amazons, an all-female military regiment of the Kingdom of Dahomey that existed until 1904. Nicole Brown, president of Sony-owned production arm TriStar Pictures, lauded Davis’ “Woman King” as the “real-world Black Panther.”
“We were intentional of creating an ensemble of the dopest actors of this moment from all over the diaspora,” Prince-Bythewood said.
Davis, who accepted CinemaCon’s Trailblazer award onstage, cited seeing icon Cicely Tyson (who died last year) for the first time as an inspiration for her long-running and many-award-winning career. “The transformational radical power it gave me to believe in something bigger than even my world, it touched down and landed in me,” she said.
Also coming up from Sony this year is “I Wanna Dance with Somebody,” the Whitney Huston biopic from “Eve’s Bayou” director Kasi Lemmons. Naomi Ackie takes on the beloved pop star in a role tipped for Oscar consideration. The film releases December 21. Similarly awards-timed is J.D. Dillard’s war epic “Devotion,” starring Jonathan Majors, Glen Powell, and Joe Jonas. It opens limited on October 14. Neither of these films came up at the CinemaCon presentation, however.
Sony’s animated Marvel venture “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” may have been moved off the 2022 calendar to a June 2, 2023 release date, but expect the follow-up to the Best Animated Feature Academy Award winner to show up during the presentation with first-look footage. (And it did!) This is just part one, however, of a two-part sequel to the animated hit — and just the latest expansion of Sony’s own Marvel offerings adjacent to Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe. (Earlier this year, Sony released the Marvel vampire tale “Morbius,” starring Jared Leto, to mixed but not totally failed box office.)
In an ambiguous concluding reel, Sony teased that more installments in the “Ghostbusters” and “Venom” franchises are on the way, with “Venom 3” and a “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” sequel officially greenlit.
The Sony presentation kicked off CinamaCon 2022 in earnest; the earlier portion of the day was dedicated to international markets. Monday began with a pair of keynote addresses, one by Cinépolis CEO Alejandro Ramírez Magaña and another from Steven O’Dell, the president of international distribution for Sony Pictures Releasing. There was even a panel on gaming and eSports in the lead-up to the real deal.
Additional reporting by Tony Maglio and Chris Lindahl.