CinemaCon: Universal’s Sequel Machine Pays Off With Exhibitors
CinemaCon: Warner Bros Wins Strong Exhibitor Reaction To Summer Slate
It was Universal Pictures’ turn in the spotlight this morning as Chairman Adam Fogelson served up a look at the studio’s sequel-packed summer slate and a summary of the studio’s 2012 hits and even big miss Battleship. He announced sequels in varying stages of development: Snow White And The Huntsman (for a targeted 2015 date), Ted, Bourne Legacy, and also for 2015 another Pitch Perfect, that sleeper which earned $110 million worldwide and has become the 4th biggest digital download in history. But clearly the studio’s biggest franchise news - thinking audiences can’t get enough of a good thing – was star/producer Vin Diesel’s announcement that the cast will return for a 7th Fast & Furious with a release date already set for July 11, 2014. Marketing honcho Michael Moses told me afterwards that the 7th film will go into production with new director James Wan in August right after the cast finishes up its worldwide promotions for #6. For such a stunt driven movie, 11 months is not much time and sets it up for an imposing ‘fast and furious’ schedule. In fact these things go so down to the wire that #6 director Justin Lin couldn’t be in Vegas to join the cast (including Paul Walker and Michelle Rodriguez) and producer Neal H. Moritz on stage to talk up the new film for the pumped theater owners. Moritz said he’s been darting between London, Vancouver and LA trying to finish post-production and insert shots for the May 24th opener.
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As for the heavy emphasis on sequels at the studio, producer/star Diesel said it best when he praised Universal and its execs including Universal Studios COO/President Ron Meyer and distribution head Nikki Rocco among those in the audience. “Universal has led the charge in episodic storytelling in a way I haven’t seen from any other studio. One reason Fast & Furious gets more and more successful is we really think about these pictures – where they are going two or three down the road.” Fogelson added that #6 and #7 are “really a pair. We are excited to get back into it.” Closing the presentation, Fogelson introduced a kick-ass freeway chase sequence from the middle of the film that involves a tank driven by co-star Michelle Rodriguez and lots of car’nage so to speak. The exhibitors ate it up.