New Sony movie chief Tom Rothman addressed last year’s unprecedented cyberattack at the annual CinemaCon convention in Las Vegas on Wednesday, calling the studio “unbroken, unbowed and pushing to new heights.”
“I believe in big-ass movies for big, worldwide audiences,” Rothman told the audience of thousands of movie exhibitors. “I also believe in rich, diverse slates with films appealing to a wide range of audiences. That’s why we decided to show a lot of stuff, so you see the richness and diversity that’s coming. We’re pushing forward, we’re not retrenching and we’re not retreating. Because we believe. So please, believe along with us.”
Earlier this year, Rothman replaced Amy Pascal, the former co-chairman of the studio, after she gave up her post to become a producer in the wake of the embarrassing hack by North Korea over the movie “The Interview.”
At the presentation of the studio’s slate, Rothman thanked the studio’s 6,000 employees for weathering the storm of the hack and he thanked the exhibitors “for sticking with us” under “unique, difficult circumstances.”
Throughout the presentation, Sony executives sought to emphasize that the studio was focused on its future and positioned to move forward as a creative force in the industry.
Distribution chief Rory Bruer previously told the crowd that the studio had a “clear, bold and global vision.” And he highlighted numerous new executives who had joined the studio in recent months, including Sanford Panitch and Rothman, who was promoted from TriStar Pictures to run the studio.
As for the movies, Sony showed off an impressive slate that ranged from family-friendly tentpoles such as “Pixels” and “Goosebumps” to hard-hitting dramas like Ridley Scott‘s “Concussion,” which stars Will Smith.
Sony showed off an emotional scene featuring Smith as Dr. Bennett Omalu, the forensic neuropathologist who made the first discovery of football-related brain trauma in pro players. Smith employs a heavy accent in his performance but it served as a reminder of how good an actor he is under the right circumstances, and could put him back in the awards conversation this fall.
A trailer for Jonathan Levine’s holiday comedy “X-Mas” proudly boasted it hailed “from the guys who almost brought you ‘The Interview.'” The film stars Seth Rogen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Anthony Mackie, and the trio displayed strong chemistry as childhood friends who reunite to… do a lot of drugs on Christmas Eve.
Sony also debuted the first trailer for the YA adaptation “The 5th Wave,” which stars Chloe Moretz, Nick Robinson and Alex Roe. The film’s VFX were far from finished, so the studio kept the actual aliens under wraps, but Moretz looked ready to kick some serious ass.
Under Rothman’s leadership, Sony is taking chances and pushing technological boundaries with Ang Lee’s adaptation of “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk,” which will be the first film to be shown in 120 frames per second. Three-time Oscar winner Ang Lee taped a nice introduction from the set to convey his excitement. Meanwhile, Robert Zemeckis took the stage to debut an extended trailer for “The Walk,” starring Gordon-Levitt. While his French accent was a little shaky, his footwork sure wasn’t, and the photorealistic scenes we saw of him walking on a tightrope between the World Trade Center towers may induce vertigo in some viewers. They certainly made this reporter’s palms sweat.
Sony also showed trailers for two TriStar releases — Jonathan Demme’s “Ricki and the Flash” starring Meryl Streep as well as Jodie Foster’s “Money Monster,” in which George Clooney is taken hostage live on the air by a gunman played by “Unbroken’s” Jack O’Connell.
In addition to the first trailer for Screen Gems’ thriller “The Perfect Guy,” Sony showed a title card for “The Equalizer 2.” The sequel was announced last year after Richard Wenk was hired to write a script, but Sony made it clear it’s moving forward along with “Underworld 5” and “Resident Evil 6.”
Sony concluded its presentation with a scene from Sam Mendes’ “Spectre,” in which Daniel Craig’s James Bond receives a message from an old friend and is tasked with finding a man named The Pale King in Mexico. Sam Mendes warned the crowd not to reveal spoilers, so unfortunately, that’s all we can reveal right now. Eon and MGM’s “Spectre” hits theaters on Nov. 6 and will be aiming to cross the billion-dollar mark a la its predecessor “Skyfall.”