As Lainey mentioned, CinemaCon, the annual showing of Hollywood wares, is happening now in Las Vegas. Yesterday, Universal and Focus Features—which is owned by Universal—showed their wares to the National Association of Theater Owners, or as I like to call them, the other NATO. 


Their big presentations were for Wicked, Twisters, and The Wild Robot, an upcoming animated film featuring Lupita Nyong’o, who was there with director Chris Sanders. A preview of the footage was described as “a Monet painting in a Miyazaki forest”. Color me intrigued.


Anthony Ramos, wearing the DEEPEST of vees, Daisy Edgar-Jones, Glen Powell, and director Lee Isaac Chung were on hand for Twisters and they did some stunt involving fans and an inflatable cow. Like Comic-Con, CinemaCon doesn’t put a lot of the footage shown in the room online for the general public. Unlike Comic-Con, though, CinemaCon also doesn’t put up footage of the presentations. I would actually like to see for myself how this cow bit went over. Glen Powell is VERY good in that room, having previously been sent to Vegas to rep Top Gun: Maverick and Anyone But You. He’s a hit with the theater owners every time he’s there, and I would like to see him work that room for once.

Meanwhile, Team Wicked was very well represented with director Jon M. Chu, and stars Michelle Yeoh, Jonathan Bailey (v. handsome), Jeff Goldblum, Cynthia Erivo, and Ariana Grande. They were all theme dressing. Can I just say? The theme dressing is getting old. I feel like everyone saw how much fun people had with the Barbie press tour last year and have decided theme dressing is the key to repeating that success, but they’re just running theme dressing into the ground. Like I’m already tired of the color coded, good girl/bad girl looks Ariana and Cynthia are sporting (though Cynthia’s boots are sick). 


Wicked doesn’t come out until November. Think how sick of pink and green you’ll be by then!  

Ariana Grande and Cynthia Erivo speak onstage during the Universal Pictures and Focus Features Presentation during CinemaCon 2024 at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace on April 10, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada

Also, shout out to Universal Pictures chair Donna Langley, the first studio boss to show her face among theater owners after the dual strikes trashed their business last year (and this year). She’s the most powerful woman in show business, she’s one of the only women in Hollywood in a senior executive role, she’s the only woman running a major movie studio, period. And Universal is one of the only studios without a superhero/comic book franchise, yet she has turned Universal into the most reliable studio in Hollywood. Especially after the last couple years, with comic book movies not so dependable anymore, Universal is looking smart for dodging the Big IP bullet last decade (though they do have the Fast & Furious and Jurassic Park/World franchises, to be fair). 


They stumbled with the Dark Universe concept, but rather than doubling down on a loser concept (ahem, Warner Brothers), they quickly wiped the slate clean and found a new approach. Under Donna Langley, Universal has been about as nimble as a major studio is capable of being, they’ve always managed to bounce back. For instance, though no talent was on hand, they screened a brief clip from Wolf Man, a reboot of the classic monster movie coming from Blumhouse and director Leigh Whannell, who previously rebooted The Invisible Man as a genuinely creep, lo-fi domestic violence drama. The new film stars Christopher Abbott and Julia Garner, and is supposed to be in the same lo-fi vein as The Invisible Man. Just make a good movie—what a concept!