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CinemaCon 2022 Day 1 Recap: Sony Pictures, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse Footage, Bullet Train

April 27, 2022 | Posted by Jeffrey Harris
Spider-Man Across the Spider-Verse photo Image Credit: Sony Pictures

411mania was on hand for Day 1 of the 2022 CinemaCon. The convention was able to return to its normal spring period this year as restrictions due to the pandemic are starting to recede. The National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) invited theater owners, exhibitors, and media as festivities kicked off on Monday. Sony Pictures kicked things off for this year’s convention with its opening presentation presenting upcoming releases for 2022 through 2024.

Filmmaker David Leitch appeared live for the presentation to showcase the opening reel for his new film, Bullet Train. Based on the Japanese novel by Maria Beetle, the film to be a wild, bloody, and violent action-thriller. The film stars Brad Pitt as Ladybug. Ladybug is an introspective assassin who is going into therapy for his habits. He’s assigned a snatch and grab job for a valuable briefcase.

However, Ladybug is inadvertently trapped onboard a high-tech, high-speed bullet train in Tokyo that’s filled with professional killers. The briefcase is ransom money that was going to be used to get back a Russian mobster’s son (Logan Lerman). The fast-talking British hitmen duo of Tangerine (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Lemon (Brian Tyree Henry), who are guarding the case and Lerman to return to his father. Ladybug snatches the case before all hell starts breaking loose. At the next stop, Ladybug is attacked by Wolf, another assassin who seems to have mixed up Ladybug with someone else in a case of mistaken identity since he’s got the briefcase. Wolf attacks Ladybug with a knife, but ends up stabbing Ladybug’s cellphone. Ladybug tries to talk Wolf down, but ends up beating him with the briefcase.

The film seems to have a style that’s trying to evoke Quentin Tarantino, but the setting and unique set of characters is like a live-action graphic novel. The film looks like it will have a dark, comedic edge. I will definitely give the movie a look, at least, when it comes out.

Filmmaker Gina Prince-Bythewood (Love & Basketball, The Old Guard) was live in attendance to present acclaimed, award-winning actress Viola Davis with the CinemaCon Trailblazer of the Year Award. A video package was shown honoring Davis’ work, films, and accomplishments. Davis herself also appeared live to accept the award, and she also presented a special first look at her new film, directed by Prince-Bythewood, called The Woman King.

The upcoming feature is based on a true story and follows a tribe of brave Amazon warriors, the Dahomey. Viola Davis stars as Nanisca, a leader for the Dahomey tribe, as she seeks to protect their home from European invaders. The trailer looked interesting and quite intense.

Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group President Sanford Panitch took the stage to announce an upcoming Marvel superhero film, El Muerto, which will star hip-hop star Bad Bunny. Bad Bunny makes his big-screen debut in Bullet Train, and El Muerto will be his next project. El Muerto is a luchador-themed hero who appeared in the pages of Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man briefly in 2006.

Bad Bunny took the stage and discussed being a wrestling fan and wanting to play a character like this due to his wrestling background, also referencing his WWE and WrestleMania appearances. This project seems a bit random and a bit of a deep cut. However, Bad Bunny is a popular star with a burgeoning and loyal fanbase, so maybe they can do something interesting here. El Muerto is due to arrive January 12, 2024.

Now, here is the real big one. Sony Pictures Chairman and CEO Tom Rothman came out to introduce Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse writers and producers Phil Lord and Chris Miller. They talked about making the two sequels for Spider-Verse, along with having a much-expanded production crew and cast of characters for the sequel, Across the Spider-Verse.

Additionally, it was revealed that the third film in the series will be titled Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse, which will arrive in 2024. Lord and Miller then introduced the opening 15 minutes for Across the Spider-Verse. They noted that not all the footage was finished, and they wanted each dimension to look like it was drawn by a different artist. Gwen Stacy’s dimension was meant to sort of be reminiscent of a mood ring.

Across the Spider-Verse opens in the dimension of Gwen Stacy, aka Spider-Woman, from the first film. She has a bit of a distant relationship with her police officer father, who isn’t aware of his daughter’s costumed vigilante habits. Captain Stacy is called away to a hostage situation at the Guggenheim involving The Vulture, aka Adrian Toomes. Of course, Gwen springs into action as well, taking up her costume once more.

Much like many of the villains in the previous films, The Vulture has been redesigned for Across the Spider-Verse. Toomes is quite surly and only speaks in Italian. However, something is off about this Toomes as he appears to be an inter-dimensional traveler. The action really picks up with the appearance of of the 2099 Spider-Man, aka Miguel O’Hara, who is voiced by Oscar Isaac. Spidey 2099 chides Spider-Gwen about what happened in the first film with Kingpin’s collider and making a mess of the multi-verse.

It appears Spidey 2099 and his allies have been hopping across dimensions and going after other stragglers, like The Vulture, who have landed in other dimensions and are causing trouble. After Spidey 2099 isn’t able to beat Vulture, he gets his helper Lyla to send in another dimensional hopping Spider-Woman. This one is Jessica Drew, voiced by Issa Rae, who is five months pregnant. When Gwen asks about her pregnancy, Jessica Drew notes that her boyfriend, the child’s father, wants the baby’s gender to be a surprise, noting that he’s “old fashioned” but incredibly hot.

Vulture and Spidey 2099 eventually take the fight to the air. Vulture brings down a police chopper, but Gwen is able to stop it as it plummets into the Guggenheim and save the pilots. However, in the aftermath, she’s confronted by her father who tries to arrest her. Gwen removes her mask and tries to reason with her father, but now her father believes his daughter is the killer of Peter Parker and tries to arrest her. Devastated by her father’s act, Gwen is left shocked. Spidey 2099 incapacitates Captain Stacy with a non-lethal energy shield. Jessica Drew convinces Spidey 2099 to bring Gwen along as she has nothing left now. Spidey 2099 reluctantly allows it.

The action returns to Miles Morales’ dimension in the first film as Miles is late for a parent-teacher meeting. He finally makes it back to his dorm room to get to the meeting after returning from his Spider-Man activities. Ganke thankfully reminds him not to leave and go to the meeting wearing his Spider-Man mask.

Miles’ teacher evaluates his grades and how he’s falling behind in certain subjects after missing classes. However, Miles having a good story could propel him to the quantum physics program at Columbia University. His parents are reluctant to send him to a school away from Brooklyn, but Miles is onboard with the idea, wanting to study science and figure out how to travel through dimensions. Miles’ Spider-Sense goes off, and he makes a hasty escape from the meeting, and then Miles’ father gets called in for police work. It’s then just Miles’ mother and the teacher, who points out that her son is clearly lying, and she knows it.

The Across the Spider-Verse footage was clearly the star of this whole presentation. The film looks like it’s going to be a great continuation in Miles’ story, as well as offering more alternate Spider-Verse heroes. I’m most excited about Spidey 2099, aka Miguel O’Hara, having a prominent role this time around, and it looks like the events of the last film have still created lasting problems that impacting events in this story and the eventual third chapter.

The scenes involving Spider-Gwen were really intense and heartbreaking, especially when Captain Stacy sees his daughter struggling to reach out to him, and he rejects her. So, I’m glad to see that the film will explore more of Spider-Gwen’s story, along with Miguel. The film even keeps in Miguel having spider-fangs and sets up a cool reveal for later in the film.

While a lot of the footage was unfinished or in a rough state, you still got a good sense of how the sequences will work and how the different dimensions will look. What looked like the finished shots of Spider-Man 2099 looked impressive.

I wasn’t as keen on this new update for The Vulture. I didn’t see the point in making him Italian and speaking only Italian. That was a bit weird.

The delay for the next movie isn’t fun, but Lord and Miller and their team look like they’re doing a great job with the sequel. The more time they have to create a masterpiece, the better. Across the Spider-Verse arrives on June 2, 2023. The third film, Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse is slated for an Easter 2024 release.

The Across the Spider-Verse footage presentation was followed by a sizzle reel showcasing some of Sony’s upcoming features. The reel confirmed new upcoming sequels for Ghostbusters, Venom, and The Equalizer. Things have been radio silent on Ghostbusters since Afterlife was released, so I’m happy to hear things are on track for a sequel.

The presentation closed out with some early footage of the upcoming George Foreman biopic. George Tillman Jr. is directing with Khris Davis as the legendary heavyweight boxing champion. I’m not sure what the official title on the biopic is yet, but for now it appears to just be called George Foreman. The man himself appeared in a video message about the upcoming film.

I will definitely want to see the Foreman movie at least. It looks promising, and it will be interesting to see the Rumble in the Jungle fight with Muhammed Ali from Foreman’s perspective.

I will be back soon with more on CinemaCon, including Day 2 with Warner Bros. Pictures and more.