Disney Brings Marvel, ‘Lightyear,’ and Yes, ‘Avatar 2,’ to CinemaCon

CinemaCon 2022: Hollywood’s top studio stuck to its guns with a franchise-heavy slate preview

Disney Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
Marvel Studios

2021 ended with a box office result that was very different from years past: Disney was not the highest grossing studio of the year. But while the Mouse hasn’t entered the 2022 box office ring yet, after moving “Turning Red” to a streaming debut Disney+, its CinemaCon presentation showed what a big impact it is going to have on the rest of the year.

The studio’s presentation of course, was kicked off by Marvel, with “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” getting an extended preview just days before it is expected to open to $170 million-plus at the domestic box office.

Then, Pixar’s “Lightyear” got a whopping 30-minute sneak preview as Chris Evans plays the space ranger that Andy’s beloved toy from “Toy Story” is based on. The film shows the prideful Buzz Lightyear in an exploratory mission gone horribly wrong as his ship, and dozens of Star Command crew members, are marooned on an alien planet crawling with hostile tentacled creatures.

With the help of his closest friend Alisha Hawthorne (Uzo Aduba), Buzz tests a new hyperdrive system to get his crew off the planet. However, not only does that test fail, his hyperspeed experiment caused him to travel four years into the future. Which means that every time Buzz flies into space to try to get the hyperdrive to work, he sees Alisha and everyone on his crew get significantly older until he’s left fighting to complete the mission with Alisha’s granddaughter, Izzy.

Distribution chief Tony Chambers also showcased films from Disney’s other departments, including 20th Century’s “The Bob’s Burgers Movie,” a film that could be the former Fox label’s highest grossing film under Disney after multiple titles like “West Side Story” and “The Last Duel” struggled last year. 20th Century also previewed David O’Russell’s next movie, “Amsterdam,” which stars Christian Bale.

And of course, the studio showed its long-awaited first look at James Cameron’s sequel to “Avatar,” which will be called “Avatar: The Way of Water.” Producer Jon Landau flew in from New Zealand to introduce the first clip and announce that the first “Avatar” would be re-released in theaters in September. He also revealed that each of the four “Avatar” sequels Cameron is working on would be a self-contained story in the life of Neytiri, Jake Sully and the family he has started on Pandora.

“I know it’s been rough on exhibition over these past two years,” Cameron said in a taped message. “But with the first ‘Avatar’ film, we pushed the boundaries of movie theaters. With the new ‘Avatar’ films, we are pushing those boundaries even further. Every shot was designed with the biggest screen and the most immersive 3D imaginable.”

As part of Cameron’s commitment to theatrical, Chambers announced that “Avatar: The Way of Water” would deviate from normal marketing and would not have its first trailer immediately available on YouTube. Instead, the “Avatar 2” trailer will debut exclusively in theaters for a week, ahead of “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” screenings.