Paramount Unleashes an Avalanche of Announcements — and More of Chris Aronson’s Tough Love — at CinemaCon

“We lost a significant percentage of frequent moviegoers and we must work together to get them back,” the studio exec said

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Chris Aronson, Paramount Domestic Distribution chief at CinemaCon

Paramount’s got plans. On Thursday morning, the Melrose studio filled its CinemaCon presentation in Las Vegas not only with sneak peeks, but an avalanche of film announcements for projects in the production pipeline for 2025 and 2026.

The presentation also featured what has become an annual CinemaCon tradition: domestic distribution chief Chris Aronson making a spectacular comedic entrance, followed by a keynote speech in which he delivers some tough love for the theater owners in attendance. Aronson came on stage dressed as a gladiator to promote Ridley Scott’s upcoming sequel to 2000’s “Gladiator,” ushered in by a Roman battalion and riding a chariot.

“Much has changed, and not enough has changed,” Aronson said. “It’s clear that moviegoers love going to the movies, but we as an industry must do better.”

Aronson offered praise to the Illinois theater chain Classic Cinemas, whose CEO Chris Johnson was honored at CinemaCon with a career achievement award. Aronson showed a reel of customer reviews for Classic Cinemas praising the chain’s high picture quality and cleanliness.

“We should all aspire to emulate this level of care and service to our audiences,” Aronson said. “Premium experience continues to be embraced, but we must also improve the non-premium experience, including pricing. There is an abundance of research that just simply can’t be ignored any longer if we want to get back to the previous levels of moviegoing, and as Michael [O’Leary] said earlier, now is the time for capital improvements. We lost a significant percentage of frequent moviegoers and we must work together to get them back.”

Paramount CEO Brian Robbins also acknowledged the talks surrounding the potential acquisition of Paramount’s parent company, but only to make a joke about Aronson starting a GoFundMe page to raise funds to make his own M&A bid. On a more serious note, Robbins touted to movie exhibitors the long-term plans Paramount has made for its commitment to theaters, including pivoting films like “Mean Girls” from streaming to theatrical and renewing its production deal with “Sonic” producer Neal Moritz.

Robbins then rattled off a slew of 2025 and 2026 projects, including a live-action comedy from “South Park” creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker as well as famed rapper Kendrick Lamar. Damien Chazelle’s next film will also be released by the studio next year, as will revivals of the “Scary Movie” and “Naked Gun” series. The studio is also expanding the presence of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” in theaters with an R-rated adaptation of acclaimed comic miniseries “The Last Ronin.”

But not everything was about the far-flung future. Chris Hemsworth and Brian Tyree Henry showed off an extended sneak peek at “Transformers One,” the next phase in Paramount’s efforts to bring animated versions of its biggest franchises to theaters. Carrying a significantly lower budget than the live-action “Transformers” series, Paramount is hoping the new film will keep longtime fans of the Autobots buying tickets while bringing in a new generation of fans.

Paramount also showed off extended trailers for John Krasinski’s family film “IF,” a Memorial Day weekend title that will try to do what other studios have struggled to do: draw in family audiences without the advantage of a familiar IP as a selling point. Lupita Nyong’o was also on hand to show an extended trailer of “A Quiet Place: Day One,” which shows New Yorkers struggling to survive in the early days of the alien invasion without making a sound.

The show ended with a trio of first-ever looks for Paramount’s end-of-year slate, including a teaser for “Smile 2,” which will follow a Lady Gaga-esque pop star who is haunted by the deadly curse at the center of Parker Finn’s breakout 2022 horror hit. A first look at “Sonic the Hedgehog 3” and the arrival of Sonic’s popular nemesis Shadow the Hedgehog was also shown.

Finally, the show ended with a first look at “Gladiator II,” a sequel to one of Ridley Scott’s biggest critical and commercial hits. Promising to be as emotional, epic and violent as the first “Gladiator,” Paramount is setting up the film as its Thanksgiving offering. It will mark the blockbuster debut of “Aftersun” and “All of Us Strangers” star Paul Mescal.

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