Universal Studios 2024 CinemaCon Panel Live Blog

 Cynthia Erivo as Elphaba in Wicked.
Cynthia Erivo as Elphaba in Wicked.

CinemaCon 2024 rolls along with Universal Studios taking the stage. We expect the studio to roll out new footage and descriptions for Twisters, Gladiator 2, Wicked, and much more. Maybe even some Fast 11 updates? Keep it here for up-to-the-minute news breaks from Las Vegas!

After a brief presentation from Fandango, Universal Studios is underway!

The Universal reel leans into the filmmakers who collaborate with the studio: Steven Spielberg, Jordan Peele, Christopher Nolan. It's an impressive flex.

Cillian Murphy in Oppenheimer
Cillian Murphy in Oppenheimer

Universal kicked off this year's CinemaCon with a screening of The Fall Guy. Based on our reaction, this will be a massive crowd pleaser that's the ideal way to kick off the summer blockbuster season.

Nolan recorded a nice bit for the crowd, reminding them that his Oppenheimer journey started at CinemaCon, where he first showed footage, and exhibitors helped him figure out how to market that movie to audiences. Universal makes the claims that Oppenheimer is Nolan's biggest hit internationally, and that Super Mario Bros. dominated animation records during its run.

The Super Mario Bros. Movie
The Super Mario Bros. Movie

The Illumination portion begins. Chris Meledandri is on stage to discuss UNiversal's animation efforts, notably Despicable Me 4, coming this summer.

CONFIRMED: A new Mario Bros movie coming in April 2026

We are getting to see a sequence from Despicable Me 4. We're told that Will Ferrell is going to be playing the villain in the movie, and that Stephen Colbert and Joey King are also joining the cast. The scene had Gru and his family flying in a ahit air balloon to a castle, where they try to break in. They want to steal a honey badger. I have no idea why. Lots of jokes about Gru being the father of an infant, and the Minions helping him babysit. Pretty much what you expect.

As the clip goes on, the castle's owner -- a grouchy old lady -- attacks Gru and his family in a souped up wheelchair. It's noisy, and chaotic. I guess fans will dig it.

Next up, Twisters! Lee Isaac Chung (Minari) addresses the question on everyone's mind at. the onset: Why did a director who normally directs small indies tackle this movie. He tells the audience that he grew up in the Midwest, and was deeply moved by the original movie because he grew up in Tornado territory. He shouts out Twister director Jan De Bont. I already love this man, and his movie!

Lee Isaac Chung tells us that Steven Spielberg, of all people, is obsessed with tornado videos, and watches tornado videos online all the time. He taught Chung a ton about filming tornadoes, and Spielberg also says the firts movie he ever made was a tornado movie in his battub. I need to see this.

Chung calls the movie immersive, and said they went to great lengths to let people feel like they are running into a storm. He wants the movie to instill joy and awe into the audience, and appreciate the power of nature.

Daisy Edgar-Jones, Glen Powell, and Anthony Ramos are now on stage talking about filming the movie. They say they were on location in 120-degree heat in Oklahoma, and they were pelted with water, air, ice, and more during filming. It sounded crazy intense. JUST SHOW US! Great, here comes footage!

Twisters 2024
Twisters 2024

The Twisters footage starts at a rodeo, when a storm system drops down on the people. Storm chasers are brought in. Glen Powell is playing a hot shot tornado ranger. He's anti-science, more of the "just feel it" guy.

DOROTHY is back! That's all I needed to see.

OK, Twisters looks like the best kind of sequel. It takes the original movie, and amplifies every aspect of it. Twin tornadoes. Bigger set pieces involving tornadoes. Powell and Edgar-Jones have sexy chemistry in the midst of the storms. Might now be my most anticipated of the summer!

The next reel is dedicated to Universal horror. Collaborations with Jordan Peele. M. Night Shyamalan. The Halloween franchise. MEGAN. This studio is dedicated to horror, and we are about to learn a lot more about what is coming.

Keke Palmer in Nope with Daniel Kaluuya
Keke Palmer in Nope with Daniel Kaluuya

Universal confirms sequels for both MEGAN and Five Nights at Freddy's, both coming in 2025.

Leigh Whannell is up next with Wolfman, coming to theaters im January 2025. We saw brief footage. It's set in modern time, like his The Invisible Man. And it focuses on a father doing his best to protect his daughter from a threat. Only... he is the threat (because he's the Wolfman). Brief look, but pretty cool.

James Watkins is on stage to tease Speak No Evil, a horror movie with James McAvoy that's a remake of a European horror movie that Jason Blum fell in love with. McAvoy plays Pattie, a charming husband and father with a very, very dark side.

First trailer is about to drop. It will be online momentarily.

Shifting over to Focus Features, and based on the music they are playing, we are learning about the Amy Winehouse movie, Back to Black.

Marisa Abela singing during a concert as Amy Winehouse in Back To Black.
Marisa Abela singing during a concert as Amy Winehouse in Back To Black.

Focus is teasing out their next slate, which includes Back to Black, Conclave, The Bikeriders, and Nosferatu, the new film from Robert Eggers.

Conclave was a stand out of the reel. Set during the choosing of a new Pope, it has an all-star cast of dramatic character actors -- Ralph Fiennes, Stanley Tucci, John Lithgow, and more -- and seems to be an ideal adult drama.

And then, there was Robert Eggers' Nosferatu. Holy hell. It's a period film, and it looks brooding and violent. "He is coming," we are warned throughout the montage of footage that shows Willem Dafoe and several villagers preparing for the arrival of evil. Very little plot detail, but a ton of mood. It looks chilling and sophisticated. It will be in theaters Christmas 2024.

We just got a tease of a DreamWorks animation project I was unfamiliar with called The Wild Robot. Some of you might have seen the trailer attached to Kung Fu Panda. It stars Lupita Nyong'o, and the footage really moved me. Had the vibe of The Iron Giant, with a rebellious robot connecting with wildlife and finding its human side. Gorgeous animation and a sweet vibe. Based on what I saw, put The Wild Robot on your radar, coming in September.

Brightbill gives Roz a head bonk in The Wild Robot.
Brightbill gives Roz a head bonk in The Wild Robot.

OK, Universal is wrapping up its panel with Wicked!

There are tulips in everyone's cup holders, and the theater is lit up with the magical glow of the musical. I'd take a picture, but security won't stop yelling at us, so I'd probably get thrown out....

Jeff Goldblum recorded a message as The Wizard of Oz. It was charming, but also a little unnerving. And now the legend himself is on screen. The auditorium is going nuts for Goldblum... as they should.

Ariana Granda and Cynthia Erivo in Wicked.
Ariana Granda and Cynthia Erivo in Wicked.

Goldblum calls his time on Wicked "dreamy," and praises the hand-built sets and props used in the film. He introduces Marc Platt and Jon Chu, the brain children behind the two Wicked films that audiences will see in 2024 and 2025 (during Thanksgiving, both years).

Here comes the Wicked cast. Jonathan Bailey and Michelle Yeoh up first!

Yeoh gives Jon Chu a hard time for casting her in roles that are, well, "mean," both in Wicked and Crazy Rich Asians. She has an Oscar now. We all know that Michelle Yeoh can do anything. Even sing, which she says was "terrifying" during filming.

Time for the leading ladies. Jon Chu is getting choked up on stage. You can tell this material, and this show, means a lot to him. Marc Platt claims that Cynthia Erivo and Ariana Grande "claimed" these roles, while Chu says audiences will adore these performances for generations. The stage has been cleared, and it now belongs to Erivo and Grande. They are Movie Stars. The crowd here is beyond pumped for this movie. Palpable.

"It's a lot! This is a lot," Grande tells us. It's really coming across that this movie means so much to the cast and crew, and I believe them when they say the poured their hearts into it.

And now.... we get an exclusive look at the movie!


Wicked looks incredible. Jaw-dropping production value. Epic staging. There wasn't as much emphasis on the songs, surprisingly. It was more plot. But this continues to look like a massive holiday hit that audiences will pack theaters to experience. The costumes, the sets, the production... all of it looks exquisite.

And that's it for Universal and Focus. Thanks for following along!