‘The Flash,’ a ‘Wonka’ Preview, Better Security: 10 Things We Want from CinemaCon 2023

From Tom Cruise stunts to "The Flash" premiere to beefed-up security from process servers, here's what's going to happen in Vegas. (But not stay in Vegas.)
"The Flash," Olivia Wilde at CinemaCon 2022, "The Super Mario Bros. Movie"
"The Flash," Olivia Wilde at CinemaCon 2022, "The Super Mario Bros. Movie"
Images Courtesy of Everett Collection and Getty

Soon we’ll be wheels up to Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas for CinemaCon 2023, a whirlwind of meetings, panels, screenings, parties, and presentations from the major studios: Sony, Warner Bros., Disney, Universal (and Focus), Paramount, and Lionsgate. We’ve already got both our luggage and our schedule packed for four days in the desert; below are 10 things we hope to learn and see at (and around) Caesar’s Palace.

Tom Cruise Nearly Killing Himself for Our Pleasure

The highlight of CinemaCon 2022 may not have been the first screening of “Top Gun: Maverick” — it may have been the Tom Cruise video introducing the “Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning — Part One” teaser (the jaw-dropping motorcycle stunt video wasn’t released until nearly a year later), which led into the “Top Gun: Maverick” debut. Given the bar set by the “Cocktail” star last year, and the fact that “M:I7” features what Cruise has called his most dangerous stunt yet, we cannot wait to see what he’s got in store for us this year.

Before we find that out, take a moment to appreciate Cruise via the stunt video below; the man is going to lose his life to entertain us — IN THEATERS.

Talk about some risky business.

To be clear, we don’t want Tom to die; we want more “Mission: Impossible” and maybe even another “Maverick.” (Hell, we’re even down with his Jack Reacher, though Alan Ritchson’s Reacher on Amazon Prime Video is a much better physical fit to the novels.)

Just How Flashy Is “The Flash”?

If Cruise goes before his time, at least he lived long enough to see “The Flash.” According to THR, Cruise was treated to a private screening in his own home and absolutely loved the Ezra Miller vehicle. (Not that Barry Allen needs any sort of vehicle, or that Warner Bros. would pick Miller to be established in that fictitious driver’s seat right now if they had the choice.)

Anyway, Cruise’s opinion is no one off. New DC co-head James Gunn, who knows a thing or two about superhero flicks, said “The Flash” is one of the best superhero movies ever made. We’ve been hearing that sentiment for a long time from inside the Warner Bros. Discovery offices, including from Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav.

We’ll let you know if we agree with those glowing — and two-thirds internal — reviews on Tuesday. “The Flash” debuts for theater owners and the media from 4:45 p.m. PT to 7:15 p.m. PT.

DC Deets

Beyond “The Flash,” Warner Bros. has plenty of other DC content that deserves a look, not to mention two new DC Studios heads who might have a thing or two to say about how much they like movie theaters. “Blue Beetle” will almost certainly get some love, and we haven’t seen anything yet from the “Aquaman” sequel slated for this December.

But what about “Joker: Folie á Deux,” which has already provided a first look at Lady Gaga’s Harley Quinn even though it’s not coming out until October 2024? James Gunn and Peter Safran have already announced a pretty robust DC slate, but the only film in the new-look DC with a release date is Gunn’s “Superman: Legacy” on June 11, 2025. Gunn has made clear that any casting news on the Superman front is very much premature (sorry, Logan Lerman). However, Warner Bros. brass took the time to announce “The Batman Part II” this time last year; it stands to reason we won’t leave Vegas without a little more clarity on the future of the DCU.

Warner’s Other Golden Ticket?

In the words of Adam Sandler’s daughters, “Where is Timothée Chalamet?” The “Little Women” and “Lady Bird” actor will be seen in two properties we hope will make themselves known in the Warner Bros.’ presentation. Those are Legendary’s “Dune: Part Two” and “Wonka,” the “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” prequel directed by Paul King, better known as the director of greatest-movie-ever “Paddington 2.”

In the case of “Dune,” we knew it would be a quick turnaround from 2021’s “Dune” after that film made $402 million worldwide, but beyond casting news the only real update we’ve had is the sequel’s unfinished VFX means it won’t be ready in time for the Venice Film Festival, according to a report.

Then there’s “Wonka,” which has a lot of curiosity and has become something of a meme, but also saw the actor tell British Vogue that he would be doing seven different musical numbers and call it a “joyous” movie.

"Joy Ride"
“Joy Ride”Lionsgate

Are There Any Original Movies Out There?!

Once upon a time, before CinemaCon started resembling Comic-Con, it was a spot where studios could build hype around the stuff you haven’t heard of —the smaller, original films without built-in fanbases that need to woo theater bookings. Last year’s CinemaCon trotted out a wave of comics who know how to work a Vegas crowd, including Universal’s Billy Eichner on behalf of “Bros,” Jo Koy for “Easter Sunday,” and Sebastian Maniscalco for Liongate’s “About My Father” (due for release next month). Even Neon had a brief presentation to hype “Crimes of the Future” and “Moonage Daydream.”

This year those pickings are a little slimmer. Sony has its raunchy comedy with Jennifer Lawrence “No Hard Feelings,” Lionsgate is screening SXSW darling “Joy Ride” on the last day, Disney and Pixar have a new original title with “Elemental,” and a combination of Universal and Focus could offer looks at Wes Anderson’s “Asteroid City,” the R-rated dog movie “Strays,” and a still untitled movie from SNL’s Please Don’t Destroy trio that remains on the 2023 slate. Here’s hoping for some surprises.


We definitely expect to see increased security at CinemaCon 2023. Last year, while selling her “Don’t Worry Darling” to exhibitors, Olivia Wilde was approached and handed an envelope by a Jason Sudeikis process server. Yes, in the packed Colosseum at Caesar’s Palace. She played it off incredibly well, but there was nothing professional about letting the process server into the Colosseum.

That highly invasive moment aside, “Don’t Worry Darling” gave New Line/Warner Bros. reason to worry. Even with Harry Styles in the cast, the Wilde/Florence Pugh drama (and that Pugh meme), and Spitgate, the $35 million-budgeted “Don’t Worry Darling” wasn’t the sleeper hit it was set up to be: It made $87 million worldwide and didn’t launch as an awards title.

"Killers of the Flower Moon"
“Killers of the Flower Moon”Apple

Prove It, Amazon and Apple

How serious are Amazon and Apple about theatrical? They’ve made noises about appreciating how a theatrical release helps streaming down the road, yet neither Amazon nor MGM will be on hand for a CinemaCon scheduled presentation — and they could be taking victory laps with “Creed III” and even “Air.” It’s also unclear whether Apple will have a presence between Paramount releasing Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon” or the recent news that Sony would release Ridley Scott’s “Napoleon” theatrically. If there ever was a good time to announce theatrical plays for movies like Emerald Fennell’s “Saltburn” or Joseph Kosinski’s Formula One picture with Brad Pitt, a room full of exhibitors would be it. Expect NATO to field a lot of questions about those reports of billion-dollar investments in movies for theaters. 

We Call Him Marty

Martin Scorsese loves movie theaters, making him the ideal person to receive the “Legend of Cinema” award from NATO, but he’s less keen about the “obsession” with box-office numbers and this is a crowd that might be described as a little obsessive. They desperately want to see those numbers increase. So we’re very excited to see whatever the 80-year-old filmmaker has to say during a special luncheon Thursday to discuss “Killers of the Flower Moon,” the state of exhibition and the movies, and more. Heck, even if all he has to say is how much he loves “TÁR” and “Pearl,” that’s fine with us.

It’s-a “Mario 2”?

Universal is probably fast-tracking a “Super Mario Bros. Movie” sequel faster than a 200cc race in “Mario Kart” — but how much of that, if any, will we hear about during Wednesday’s presentation? Our guess is we’ll get an announcement to raucous applause. “Mario 1,” let’s call it (and ignore the 1993 movie), is already north of $700 million worldwide.

With that kind of coin, we’re due more than just a green “1-up” mushroom. Hell, maybe we’ll get a live Jack Black performance of “Peaches.”

Newest Theater Gimmicks

Any theater owner will say more movies are what they need most, but the reality is they need more to compete. To help exhibitors get creative, a panel called “Beyond the PLF” (that’s “premium large format”) will discuss how theaters can lean into event cinema or even live events. Expect chatter about more dine-in theaters, motion box technology like 4DX or incremental attractions like axe throwing or escape rooms. An opening-day keynote, “Movie Theaters Aren’t Going Anywhere,” will focus on other ways theaters can experiment.

A stock photo of the world famous Las Vegas city skyline.
A stock photo of that world-famous Las Vegas skyline.Getty Images/iStockphoto

That’s all for now; we’ll see you in Vegas!

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