Warner Bros. settled in for a CinemaCon presentation that was supposed to be an hour and a half but ended up being an hour [shoutout to the theater employee I ran into in the elevator who said when this was pointed out that we could "watch the last 30-minutes on HBO Max."] Also, thank you to those that joined the Bleeding Cool liveblog for this panel. No one knew this before the lights went down, but no one from Warner Bros. decided to show up. Instead, they sent a pre-recorded video, so it was like a bunch of featurettes and trailers, one right after the other. They said Warner Bros. was committed to the theatrical experience, which got some scoffs from the audience, and after some awkward back and forth that was proof that reading from a teleprompter is a skill, we moved onto the movies.
First up, we got to see Malignant, which appeared to be a long featurette. Overall, it looked like it was most of the footage was from the initial trailer. There might have been a few new frames in there, but not very many. It's a movie that is likely going to be good because James Wan is one of the best of this generation when it comes to horror. Next was a mini-documentary on Clint Eastwood and his next movie, Cry Macho. After that, we got an extended trailer with a few new scenes for King Richard. We also got to see the first few minutes of The Many Saints of Newark, but it was only about four minutes that didn't show much.
Finally, Warner Bros. broke out one of the big guns. We got a behind-the-scenes featurette for The Matrix 4, and then we finally got a big reveal; the title for The Matrix 4 is The Matrix: Resurrections with a shiny new logo. We thought that was going to be all, and then it rolled into a trailer. Shoutout to The Hollywood Reporter for helping with a few of the lines I didn't write down correctly during the panel. The trailer opens with Thomas Anderson (Keanu Reeves) in therapy. He says to his therapist (Neil Patrick Harris) that "I had dreams that weren't just dreams. Am I crazy?" He seems to know that something is off, and we see him taking blue pills. Thomas seems disconnected from a world that he doesn't fit in with, and the disconnect is quite literal. The world he is living in is much like our own, with everyone glued to their phones, and he is not. He runs into a woman (Carrie Anne Moss) in a coffee shop, and they feel like they've met before, but they don't remember each other.
Eventually, Thomas gets a red pill from a mysterious and unnamed man (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), and he remembers everything that has happened. From there, we get a lot of disjointed shots from the movie that seem to include some pretty crazy powers for Neo and lots of shots that look like the machine world. The trailer had a very "soft reboot" feeling to it, but when it comes to actual story points? This trailer gave us very little, and it does look like exactly what you would expect from another Matrix film. Warner Bros. is keeping this one VERY close to the chest, so when can the general public expect this trailer? Your guess is as good as mine. They really don't want people to know anything about this movie.
Next, Warner Bros. spotlighted their only 2022 release of the presentation, and it was The Batman. We went into an extended featurette that featured a ton of behind-the-scenes footage and some of the cast talking about the movie as well. It then went into the trailer from FanDome, which I initially misreported as new because I hadn't watched the original in a long time. The featurette was interesting and showed off some really awesome-looking footage and behind-the-scenes stuff. Director Matt Reeves once again brought up Year One as inspiration for this film. Perhaps they will release the featurette and maybe some new footage at the upcoming DC FanDome in October.
If all this sounds like Warner Bros. kind of dropped the ball compared to previous years, then the final movie that we covered would be the nail in the coffin. About a month ago, IMAX hosted special preview events for Dune. We got an awesome, long featurette, a small conversation between Denis Villeneuve and Hans Zimmer about the score, the first ten minutes of the movie, a clip, and then they debut the new trailer. It was an awesome little event that Warner Bros. and Legendary repurposed for CinemaCon only with half of the content. This was so obviously deliberate that the pre-recorded statements from talent appeared to have been shot on the same day.
This is not to say that any of this was bad. The featurette Warner Bros. showed is excellent and goes through the entire cast talking about the movie and the sheer scope of everything that we will see in this film. Next, we got a clip. Duke Atreides (Oscar Isaac) is out scoping a spice crawler with Paul (Timothee Chatamet), Gurney Hallek (Josh Brolin), and Dr. Liet-Kynes (Sharon Duncan-Brewster). They are in a Carryall, the bug-looking ships that have been seen in the trailer footage. The spice crawler needs to get picked up because a worm is on the way, but the carrier fails to clasp leaving the crawler and its crew of 21 dead in the water.
Duke Atreides insists they are going to make the 21 people fit in three ships that can only hold 18 people. They land, and Paul goes out to help tell people to come inside. However, as soon as he steps onto Arrakis, he clearly becomes overwhelmed. He falls to one knee to look at the space in his hand. Paul calls for people to come into the ships, but he is blasted with a face full of sand, and the effects of the spice seem to be impacting him. He is hearing voices and collapses on the sand in front of the crawler as the worm approaches. Gurney realizes that Paul is missing and drags him back to the ship. They stumble as the sand begins to vibrate from the worm. They manage to get onto the ship, and we watch as a worm easily consumes the massive crawler. Warner Bros. ended the clip there and then played the trailer was also released a little over a month ago.
The fact that Warner Bros. didn't even bother to show up is a little insulting considering the tension between exhibitors, and Warner Bros. is fairly high right now because of the HBO Max decision, and one would think they would have least come out to reassure everyone that it is still only something that is going to happen for the rest of 2021. Instead, we got a comment from Andrew Cripps, Warner Bros' International president saying, "Watching Godzilla vs. Kong on your iPad doesn't have the same impact as going to the movies," which was about as close as anyone came to addressing the elephant in the room. Instead, they used the words "controversial choice" were used. Warner Bros. closed out their presentation nearly 30-minutes early with almost nothing about the 2022 slate. We'll have to see how Universal and NEON go later today. Be sure to check out our liveblogs and continuing coverage of CinemaCon.