Disney delights ‘Star Wars’ devotees at CinemaCon
LAS VEGAS, April 25, 2018 (BSS/AFP) – Disney treated attendees at Las Vegas movies convention CinemaCon to footage from its hotly-anticipated “Solo: A Star Wars Story” on Tuesday as it whetted appetites for its upcoming slate of blockbusters.
While the world’s largest movie studio traditionally keeps back its juiciest surprises for its own biennial D23 Expo, it delighted delegates with footage of the first meeting between Alden Ehrenreich’s young Han Solo and Donald Glover’s Lando Calrissian.
Footage from the Ron Howard movie — the second “Star Wars” spinoff after “Rogue One” (2016) — showed the pair’s encounter in a sleazy dive bar on a snowbound world, watched by a colorful menagerie of new alien characters.
Emilia Clarke — Daenerys Targaryen in “Game of Thrones” — appeared in the preview for the May 25 release, goading Han into taking on Lando in a card game.
“You might want to quit while you’re ahead,” Lando warns Han as the pair gamble with their starships.
The footage didn’t reveal the name of Lando’s vessel but fans will be aware that he lost the iconic “Millennium Falcon” to Han in a card game, according to “Star Wars” franchise lore.
Journalists noted outside of the presentation that the vignette evoked the Mos Eisley cantina scene from the 1977 original “Star Wars,” where Harrison Ford’s Solo first meets Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker.
– Innovators –
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures was due to compete for headlines Tuesday with rival “major” Warner Bros. and new kid on the block STX at the annual Las Vegas gathering for theater operators and audio and visual tech innovators.
Hollywood decamps to the Nevada desert for four days every year, taking over the iconic Caesar’s Palace hotel to show theater owners what they can expect to be making their money from over the following 12 to 24 months.
While most studios wheel out their biggest stars to promote their performances, Disney opted this year to let its movies — and a handful of executives — do the talking.
The audience was treated to preview footage of Tim Burton’s “Dumbo,” Jon Favreau’s “The Lion King,” and a behind-the-scenes making-of featurette for Guy Ritchie’s “Aladdin.” All three movies are due out next year.
The audience cheered as it was shown the opening of “The Lion King,” a live-action remake of the smash hit 1994 animated movie, with mandrill Rafiki performing newborn Simba’s presentation ceremony for the animals of Pride Rock as “Circle of Life” plays.
Disney executive vice president Cathleen Taff introduced “Dumbo,” due for release in March next year, showcasing first-person point of view footage of the titular elephant flying around a circus tent, echoing the ending of the 1941 animated original.
– Lucrative remakes –
Danny DeVito, who plays the big top owner, is joined in the cast by Eva Green, Michael Keaton, Alan Arkin and Colin Farrell.
Disney also offered a sneak peak at “Aladdin,” its remake of the 1992 animation, opening in May 2019 with a mix of new songs and old classics, and starring Will Smith, Mena Massoud and Naomi Scott.
“Aladdin is one of those perfect stories. It just burrows down inside of you,” said Smith in the preview video.
“You don’t know when you saw it. You don’t know how you know every word to the songs.”
Disney began scouring its back catalog in the 1990s for animated classics that it could turn into live-action remakes — a strategy that has so far netted several billion dollars.
Last year’s “Beauty and the Beast” broke pre-release sales records and was the second largest-grossing movie of 2017 worldwide, behind another Disney behemoth, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.”
CinemaCon was also shown a new trailer for “Ant-Man and the Wasp” as well as the opening sequence of animation “Incredibles 2” from Disney-owned Pixar.
There was behind-the-scenes footage and concept art from Lasse Hallstrom’s “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms” and Rob Marshall’s upcoming Christmas release, “Mary Poppins Returns,” starring Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda.