Spider-Man helped kick off this year’s pared-down CinemaCon Monday night, with Sony unveiling the first trailer for Spider-Man: No Way Home to a crowd of theater owners in Las Vegas. This year’s convention, visually lighter in attendance and featuring a subdued tone, comes amid unprecedented challenges for theaters. The Spider-Man trailer also arrives under unusual circumstances, as a day earlier, a version of the No Way Home trailer leaked online, leading to Sony issuing take-down notices.
Sony film boss Tom Rothman, in town from vacation on the East Coast and sporting facial hair, acknowledged the leak while introducing the trailer, saying, “It deserves to be seen in the high-quality finished form in which it was made.” The Sony Twitter account also acknowledged the leak, tweeting, “shout-out to the real ones who are watching the trailer for the first time right now.”
Starring Tom Holland, Spider-Man: No Way Home will deal with the multiverse and will feature actors from previous Spider-Man film franchises. Alfred Molina, who played Doctor Octopus in Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man 2, is in the trailer, while Jamie Foxx, who played Electro in the Andrew Garfield-led The Amazing Spider-Man 2, is also on the call-sheet for the next Spider-Man film, produced by Marvel Studios. Benedict Cumberbatch is also appearing as Doctor Strange in the film from director Jon Watts, which hits theaters Dec. 17.
No Way Home is arguably the most important film on Sony’s slate, with anticipation for the Marvel Studios sequel rivaling something akin to Disney’s Avengers movies, with fans clamoring online for months for word on the project. The previous installment, Spider-Man: Far From Home, stands as Sony’s highest-grossing film ever, with it earning $1.132 billion globally.
This year’s CinemaCon comes as theater owners worry about competition from streaming services and collapsing theatrical windows, as well as the continued coronavirus pandemic. Throughout the presentation, Sony executives said the studio was committed to the theatrical experience. Rothman noted that he recently saw 20th Century’s Free Guy, which has been doing strong business since opening two weeks ago.
“That film has done great business. No. 1, because it’s terrific,” said Rothman. “No. 2, you can’t watch it at home on television. Go-fucking figure!”
Sony, which does not have a streaming service, unveiled a sizzle reel reaffirming its commitment to putting films into theaters.
Sony’s sizzle reel included the first footage from filmmaker David Leitch’s Brad Pitt starrer Bullet Train and Tom Holland’s Uncharted. It also included looks at Denzel Washington’s A Journal for Jordan, Olivia Newman’s Where The Crawdad’s Sing and the war epic Devotion, directed by JD Dillard and starring Jonathan Majors and Glen Powell. The studio also has a slate of Marvel films on its roster, including Tom Hardy’s Venom: Let There Be Carnage (Oct. 15) and Jared Leto’s Morbius due out Jan. 28, both of which were highlighted in the sizzle reel with new footage.
In introducing the sizzle reel, Sony’s Josh Greenstein, co-president of the Motion Picture Group, said at the core of Sony’s strategy was “protecting the exclusive theatrical window,” taking a shot at studios, such as Warner Bros. and Disney, which have put films day-and-date on streaming services.
“Debuting movies simultaneously in theaters and at home is devastating to our collective businesses,” said Greenstein, to big applause.
After sharing its look at upcoming films, Sony Pictures chairman and CEO Tony Vinciquerra took the stage to introduce Ghostbusters: Afterlife filmmaker Jason Reitman, and his father, original Ghostbusters director Ivan Reitman. The pair brought an early screening of the film, which hits theaters Nov. 11.
Ivan Reitman recalled the first preview screening for 1984’s Ghostbusters.
“It was a rough cut,” said the filmmaker. “Can you imagine show Ghosbusters with no VFX? When they shot those proton packs, nothing came out … The audience groaned but they were having a good time.”
Jason Reitman told the audience that if they are Ghosbusters fans, they “are about to go on the biggest Easter egg hunt of all time,” and asked them to preserve the secrets of the ending for future audiences.
Jason Reitman echoed words in Sony’s sizzle reel, which made a point of assuring theater owners their slate would be available only in theaters. “Sony is the only studio that is completely dedicated to theatrical distribution,” said the younger Reitman.
CinemaCon runs through Thursday.