CinemaCon Paramount Presentation: ‘Ben-Hur,’ ‘Baywatch,’ and Turtles

Jack Huston CinemaCon
Jack Huston from ‘Ben-Hur’ at the 2016 CinemaCon (Photo Courtesy of Paramount Pictures)

Paramount Pictures’ presentation at the 2016 CinemaCon in Las Vegas had plenty of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, new clips from Ben-Hur, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, and even a little Baywatch. But, surprisingly, the studio did not show off any footage from Star Trek Beyond even though there were posters promoting the film and the goodie bags given to attendees had Star Trek Beyond emblazoned on them. Simon Pegg and J.J. Abrams were on hand for the Showman of the Year award presentation, however the studio didn’t offer up any footage from the upcoming Star Trek film which Abrams is producing.

Kicking off the annual gathering of the National Association of Theatre Owners in Las Vegas, Paramount Pictures began their presentation by confirming Transformers 5, 6, and 7 are heading to theaters in June 2017, June 2018, and June 2019. Then after calling the new Turtles film – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows – explosive, Paramount Pictures’ Vice-Chairman Rob Moore brought Megan Fox and Will Arnett to the stage at the Coliseum in Caesars Palace to promote the film. Arnett took the stage pretending to be on the phone, and then joined Fox at the podium to joke about who were the real stars of the film. Fox said the Turtles are definitely the leads while Arnett, of course, claimed it’s all about him. Then a pizza delivery arrived which led to one of the most bizarre CinemaCon moments in recent history, with Arnett and Fox delivering it to some guy named Adam in the audience. The crowd wasn’t into the bit, mostly because it felt like a private joke that we weren’t let in on. Back on the stage after making the pizza delivery, Arnett munched on a piece while saying the new film’s action is bigger this time around. That was followed by a lengthy collection of clips that focused on the action and showed off more of Arrow star Stephen Amell’s character, Casey Jones.

Next up was the presentation for Ben-Hur and although Morgan Freeman wasn’t at CinemaCon, he voiced the introduction to the clips and to the film’s star, Jack Huston. Huston said the upcoming epic is a story of betrayal, redemption, survival, acceptance, and compassion, and he believes the film will work well with modern audiences because of its themes. The audience seemed to be into the clips shown which featured chariot races, harrowing stunts, and scenes with Huston, Toby Kebbell, and Morgan Freeman.

Tom Cruise wowed the CinemaCon audience in 2015, however this year Cruise wasn’t available but did record a video message for the annual theatre owners gathering. Cruise said he’s currently in London and that he’ll begin shooting Mission: Impossible 6 this fall. He’s busy working on Jack Reacher: Never Go Back now with Edward Zwick (the two worked together previously on The Last Samurai) directing and Cobie Smulders co-starring. Cruise revealed Smulders’ character has Reacher’s old job and that the new film will have more twists and turns – as well as Reacher once again warning people about things that are about to happen. Cruise said it’s a privilege to work on the film series based on the bestselling books, calling Jack Reacher an “analog character in a digital world.” Never-before-seen clips were screened, showing Cruise once again doing incredibly difficult stunts.

Paramount then proceeded to show off their potential Oscar bait, confirming Denzel Washington will direct and star in Fences alongside Viola Davis. Washington and Davis are reuniting for the dramatic film after winning Tony Awards for their performances on stage. The previously untitled World War II spy movie from director Robert Zemeckis is now officially known as Allied and will arrive in theaters on November 23, 2016. Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard star, and the studio showed off a brief clip of footage from the film which was absolutely gorgeous. Last in the Oscar bait category is Florence Foster Jenkins releasing in theaters on August 12th, pushing Ben-Hur to August 19th.

Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner were the next stars to take the CinemaCon stage, there to promote a film which is now on my must-see list following the screening of some incredible footage. Renner and Adams star in Story of Your Life from Sicario director Denis Villeneuve, and Renner won over the audience by saying he did the film because of Amy (the two also worked together on American Hustle). “It’s Amy’s story and there’s not enough cinema in Hollywood with a strong, badass, intelligent female lead,” he said. Adams returned the compliment, calling Renner amazing and saying he brings so much to the film. The footage screened set up the story of Adams’ character as a linguist brought onto a team to try and figure out what aliens who’ve just landed on earth are trying to say and figure out their intentions.

Vin Diesel, another popular guy with the CinemaCon crowd, couldn’t make it to Vegas but sent a tape from the set of xXx: The Return of Xander Cage. Diesel is very proud of the film and is having fun reprising the role of Xander Cage.

Last but not least, Paramount showed a video of Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, Alexandra Daddario, and Kelly Rohrbach in bikinis/briefs. The Baywatch stars joked around about the appeal of the film, with Johnson saying the team kicks ass on the beach. The footage screened had a lot of skin, a lot of action, and Zac and Dwayne talking about their testicles in a clip from the film.