Universal brings 'Cats,' 'Hobbs & Shaw,' more to CinemaCon


LAS VEGAS (AP) — Universal Pictures previewed a diverse slate of offerings from “Cats” to “Hobbs & Shaw” Wednesday morning at CinemaCon, the annual trade convention where exhibitors and distributors meet in Las Vegas to discuss the future of the movie theater business.

Footage from Tom Hooper’s adaption of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical with Taylor Swift, Idris Elba, James Corden and Judi Dench, wasn’t quite ready to show yet so instead Jennifer Hudson wowed the audience with a performance of “Memory.”

They also showed some behind-the-scenes footage and the motion capture technology they’re using to create, “The most perfect covering of fur” on all the actors. Hooper also teased that the film will capture a “cats-eyed view of the world.” ”Cats” slinks into theaters Dec. 20.

CinemaCon favorite Dwayne Johnson got a rousing reception from the audience presenting a new trailer from the “Fast & Furious” spinoff “Hobbs & Shaw” about his and Jason Statham’s characters.

“The bottom line is we wanted to make something that was fun,” Johnson said. “This is fun.”

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The movie finds them visiting Hobbs’ island home as they try to protect Shaw’s sister, played by Vanessa Kirby, from a villain played by Elba.

The action-packed trailer showed, among other death defying stunts, Hobbs pulling down a helicopter with a chain from his truck.

Straight from “planet Brexit,” director Danny Boyle promoted “Yesterday,” a June release about a struggling musician who wakes up from an accident and a worldwide electricity outage to discover that no one knows or remembers The Beatles — except him.

“It’s like they never existed. It’s a hell of an idea,” Boyle said. “It was my delight to dive in and direct this lovely film.”

“Yesterday” star Himesh Patel even serenaded the audience with an acoustic performance of the title song.

“I definitely didn’t think I’d be playing Caesar’s Palace,” Patel said.

Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg brought out the cast of their latest production, “Good Boys,” a raunchy, expletive-filled comedy about three sixth grade boys. Rogen joked it is their “Most refined, cultured film to date.”

Jacob Tremblay, accompanied by his co-stars Keith Williams and Brady Noon, said, “We apologize for what we’re about to do and say.” The boys said they’re not even allowed to watch the trailer for the R-rated film.

Live animals were part of more than one presentation. Dennis Quaid brought out his personal comfort dog Peaches to preview “A Dog’s Journey,” and Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish had everyone laughing trying to do their “The Secret Life of Pets 2” presentation while holding an excitable bunny and a shih tzu.

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“I’ve been rehearsing with this rabbit for three hours! All of it out the window,” Hart said as the bunny repeatedly tried to climb up his shoulder.

Writer Lena Waithe was joined by director Melina Matsoukas to preview “Queen & Slim,” based on a James Frey story, starring Daniel Kaluuya out this November.

“It shows what it’s like to be black and in love while the world is burning all around you,” Waithe said.

Audiences saw the first trailer for this fall’s “Downton Abbey” movie, set in 1927 and revolving around the Crawley family expecting a visit from the King and Queen. Universal also showed a trailer for the romantic comedy “Last Christmas,” starring Henry Golding and Emilia Clarke, which will hit theaters this holiday season.

Emma Thompson wrote the script over the course of seven years based on the George Michael song, and director Paul Feig promised that the film will feature a Michael song that “nobody has ever heard.”

The studio, unique for being one of the few major studios without any superhero intellectual property, touted its own “heroes” in a sizzle reel like “The Fast & Furious'” Dominic Toretto.

Will Packer, who produced the two biggest domestic comedies of the previous two years, “Night School” and “Girls Trip,” previewed his newest comedy, “Little.” It’s a spin on “Big” dreamt up by “black-ish” actress Marsai Martin, who pitched him the idea when she was 10. “Little” releases on April 12.

Universal has one of the few big box-office success stories of 2019 with Jordan Peele’s “Us,” which exceeded industry expectations in its $70 million debut and has in under three weeks earned more than $176 million worldwide.

Donna Langley, the newly appointed sole chairman of Universal’s film entertainment group, said that, “Despite all of the consolidation we’re seeing and changing habits, audiences will show up for great original movies from great filmmakers.”

She added: “We all know nothing compares to that electric feeling of seeing a movie on a big screen for the first time.”


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