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Sony defines CinemaCon style with new ‘Ghostbusters’ and ‘Spider-Man’ movies

Sony sets the tone for CinemaCon with the new Ghostbusters and Spider-Man movies

Fearing the pandemic and streaming platforms, the beleaguered movie theater industry recalled the new Ghostbusters and Spider-Man films as it vowed to fight back at a major trade summit in Las Vegas on Monday.

CinemaCon — which typically sees Hollywood studios bring shining stars and never-before-seen shots to casino Las Vegas to lure theater chiefs — hasn’t happened at all in the past year as the pandemic shut down movie theaters around the world.

But with nearly 90 percent of domestic theaters now open, Sony Pictures used Caesars Palace’s opening evening screening slot to set the tone for a returning event determined to prove the future of the big screen.

Studio bosses screened a new trailer for the long-awaited superhero series Spider-Man: No Way Home, before previewing Ghostbusters: Afterlife — a largely nostalgic follow-up to the classic 1984 supernatural comedy — fully in front of a spirited crowd.

“Over the past 19 months, there’s been a lot of gloom and gloom,” said Josh Greenstein, head of Sony’s motion picture division.

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“But we know that cinemas and theatrical cinema experience will win,” he added.

The presentation was also compressed into brief shots of Bullet Train starring Brad Pitt, and future superhero fare including a sequel to Venom and Morbius.

Clips from Denzel Washington’s “A Journal for Jordan” and a film adaptation of the best-selling novel featuring Reese Witherspoon’s “Crawdads Sing” were shown, before a longer Spider-Man trailer about how the movie relates to other popular Marvel characters including… That Benedict Dr. Cumberbatch is weird.

Then attendees settled on the movie Ghostbusters: After Life, presented by its director Jason Reitman and his father Evan, who directed the original film.

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Plot details are under strict bans, but the film, shot nearly four decades after the first film, finds young descendants of the original wise ghoul hunters picking up the mantle and backpack.

‘Not too bright’

CinemaCon is taking place despite concerns about a delta variant causing some pandemic restrictions to be reimposed on Hollywood in California, and attractive listeners have largely turned away from the Las Vegas event.

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Regulators have gone ahead with Covid protocols in place, including proof of vaccination or a recent negative test to attend.

While Disney is largely absent, other major traditional Hollywood studios showing off their wares this week include Warner, Universal and Paramount.

Each of these studios has experimented in some form during the pandemic using streaming platforms to release their films – an ever-growing concern for big-screen cinema chains.

Sony, the only studio in Hollywood without its own streaming service, drew cheers with its “commitment to maintaining and protecting theatrical exclusive window” — a reference to the traditional time period when films could initially only be shown in theaters.

“Watching movies at the same time in theaters, and at home, is devastating to our collective industry,” Greenstein said.

Tom Rothman, chief executive of Sony Pictures, noted the recent success in cinemas of “Free Guy,” a comedy from a rival Disney-owned studio.

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While other recent releases have failed, “this movie did a great job, because, number one, it’s great — and number two, you can’t watch it at home on TV,” he said.

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“We’re not very good at Hollywood,” he added, “but we’ll find out.”

CinemaCon runs until Thursday.

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