CinemaCon Universal Pictures Recap: Benedict Cumberbatch is the Grinch

Benedict Cumberbatch Voice The Grinch
Benedict Cumberbatch voices The Grinch in ‘Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas’ (Photo
Credit: Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures)

Warner Bros, Paramount, and Sony flew in dozens of actors for their presentations at the 2016 CinemaCon, however Universal Pictures took the opposite approach. Producers and directors were on hand to discuss their films and Kevin Hart put in an appearance to plug his hybrid action film/stand-up performance, What Now?, but the studio opted for a less star-studded approach and instead focused on a few films from their upcoming slate, debuting never-before-seen trailers as well as lengthier clips.

Universal Chairman Donna Langley said the studio’s offerings at CinemaCon reflected some but not all of their slate, and the only talk regarding the next Jurassic Park film was a very brief mention that it will arrive in 2018. Prior to the presentation there had been speculation that a few details would emerge regarding the next installment in the blockbuster dinosaur franchise, but nothing was revealed.

Duncan Jones was the first of the filmmakers to take the stage with a new video from Warcraft. Jones said Warcraft‘s a story about heroes that come in all shapes and sizes. It’s unique, and Jones said he can’t believe it’s finally so close to being released in theaters after he’s been working on it for three and a half years. The new video featured more of the eagles, more of Vikings‘ Travis Fimmel as Anduin Lothar, and some intense action/fight scenes.

Director Tate Taylor represented The Girl on the Train and introduced the first trailer for the much-anticipated dramatic film. Taylor said every so often a book comes along that pulls you in and you can’t put it down, and Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train was one of those books. Taylor, who also directed the film adaptation of The Help, said the book has everything you want to see in a film: sex, infidelity, deception, obsession, more sex, and murder. “Even on the page it was very cinematic,” explained Taylor. Taylor believes his film’s star, Emily Blunt, is one of the most talented actresses of our time and said she was willing to “go to the depths” for this character. “You’ll be riveted when you see what she’s done,” said Taylor. The first trailer was then revealed and as a fan of the book I can say I was incredibly impressed. The acting and the atmosphere were perfect and even the voice over which I’m usually not fond of, worked. The trailer demonstrated Taylor and screenwriter Erin Cressida Wilson (Men, Women & Children) have made a film faithful to the source material and it’s possible – if what was shown in the trailer holds up throughout the film – that Emily Blunt could be busy come awards season.

Next up was Frank Marshall with Jason Bourne. Marshall said it’s taken almost 10 years to find the right story for the main character, and they finally discovered it about two years ago. The new film brings back all the things that are familiar “but with a fresh, new take.” Marshall talked about shutting down Vegas streets during filming and said the resulting action scene is the best Bourne chase sequence ever. The footage showed Matt Damon crashing through windows and basically beating the crap out of all comers and it featured some fierce hand-to-hand fight scenes.

Michael Buffer then did his “let’s get ready to rumble” bit but with a twist, introducing the 165 pound contender Kevin Hart who paraded through the Coliseum in Caesars Palace in Vegas accompanied by dancing girls. Hart is incredibly proud of his upcoming film, What Now?, and wanted to go bigger and better than a regular stand-up comedy film, combining an action film with footage from one of the stops on his 156 shows tour. The sneak peek he provided was full of celebrity cameos and a full-on fight scene.

The studio’s animated slate was highlighted next with Illumination Entertainment’s Chris Meledandri revealing the short film “Mower Minions” will screen before The Secret Life of Pets. The new short, which was screened at CinemaCon, has the minions taking on landscaping jobs in order to buy a blender for making smoothies. Of course, their landscaping abilities leave a lot to be desired. And for those into Corgis, one is featured in the short! Meledandri said the voice cast of The Secret Life of Pets are all pet lovers and that helped inform their characters. The first 10 minutes of the animated animal film was then screened followed by a special trailer focusing on Kevin Hart’s character, Snowball.

Despicable Me 3 will arrive on June 30, 2017 and the story will be about the sibling rivalry between Gru and his long-lost twin brother who is the polar opposite of Gru. Steve Carell will voice both characters. Joining the cast as the main new villain is South Park‘s Trey Parker as the voice of Balthazar Bratt. Balthazar Bratt is described as a deranged former child star of the ’80s whose TV series was canceled when he hit puberty. Parker has never lent his voice to a character outside the world of South Park, and Despicable Me 3 also marks the first time he’s being directed by someone else.

And the biggest news to come out of Universal’s presentation is that Benedict Cumberbatch will be providing the voice of The Grinch in the upcoming animated film How the Grinch Stole Christmas which is scheduled to hit theaters on November 10, 2017.