Sony Execs Take CinemaCon Victory Lap Over ‘Spider-Man’ Box Office Domination

CinemaCon 2022: “We all proved that theatrical windows matter, and we did it together,” Sony President Josh Greenstein said

Sony Josh Greenstein CinemaCon
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As the studio that released a $1.9 billion box office hit in the midst of record COVID-19 infection rates, it was fitting that Sony Pictures was the first studio to make its presentation at CinemaCon 2022, and Chairman/CEO Tom Rothman and his team took a victory lap after a successful winter led by “Spider-Man: No Way Home.”

“What are you guys doing here? Don’t you know you’re dead? Not only merely dead but most sincerely dead?” Rothman joked to the CinemaCon attendees as he touted the $3.3 billion that Sony films have grossed at the worldwide box office.

Along with the runaway success of “No Way Home,” Sony also released another Marvel hit with “Venom: Let There Be Carnage,” which reached $500 million worldwide without the aid of China, while “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” and “Uncharted” also found solid success with domestic audiences. The numbers vindicate Rothman and Sony motion picture group president Josh Greenstein’s pledge at last year’s CinemaCon to commit to exclusive theatrical releases and to be a key part of the pandemic box office rebuilding process.

“We all proved that theatrical windows matter, and we did it together. Movies that are shown on the big screen with huge worldwide marketing campaigns are what break through culturally,” motion picture group president Josh Greenstein said, pointing out that “No Way Home” had an 88-day theatrical exclusive window at a time when other major studios have cut down the window for their films to 45 days or less.

During the CinemaCon presentation, Sony teased even more web-slinging with a sneak preview of “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse,” and also promised even more of their biggest franchises with new sequels to “Venom” and “Ghostbusters” being greenlit. Sony also announced a new Marvel film based on the Spider-Man foe El Muerto starring Bad Bunny, joining a list of new Spidey-adjacent films that began with “Morbius” this month and continues with “Kraven the Hunter” and “Madame Web” next year.

But with “Across the Spider-Verse” being delayed to summer 2023, Sony instead turned to non-franchise offerings when showcasing what they will bring to theaters for 2022. The presentation got started with an extended sneak preview of “Bullet Train,” an action-comedy starring Brad Pitt about a group of assassins all searching for a mysterious briefcase on a Japanese bullet train.

Sony will also throw their hat into the awards race with the first trailer for a potential contender: TriStar’s “The Woman King,” an African historical drama starring Viola Davis as the leader of the Dahomey Amazons, an all-female military regiment that fought against French colonizers in the 19th century. New footage was also shown of George Tillman Jr.’s upcoming biopic about champion boxer and grill salesman George Foreman.

The studio also presented a new trailer for the upcoming drama “Where the Crawdads Sing,” based on Delia Owens’ novel about a young outcast who lives in the marshes of North Carolina and is accused of murdering the local quarterback after a relationship between them turns sour.

For all these films, Sony brought back a tradition that took a pandemic pause at last year’s CinemaCon: celebrity guests. While last August’s studio presentations saw actors and filmmakers largely stay home amidst COVID-19 travel concerns, Sony brought out filmmaker David Leitch to introduce the first reel of “Bullet Train,” while Viola Davis and director Gina Prince-Bythewood came out to roaring applause to present “The Woman King.”

“I felt that ‘The Woman King’ was the perfect conduit to present a whole new area of storytelling to the world. It has been a labor of love, of courage, and of excellence,” Davis said.

Animation producers Phil Lord and Chris Miller also joked about the scope of “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse,” noting that the film has over 1,000 animators working on it, a record for animated features.

“But don’t tell Tom,” they said, as Sony Pictures Chairman and CEO Tom Rothman stood in the wings.