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CinemaCon 2022 Day 3 Recap: Walt Disney Studios, Doctor Strange & Lightyear Footage, Universal, Jurassic World Dominion

April 29, 2022 | Posted by Jeffrey Harris
Doctor Strange Multiverse of Madness, CinemaCon 2022 Image Credit: Marvel Studios

CinemaCon 2022 continued with Day 3. The Wednesday showcases for the convention featured studio presentations for both Walt Disney Studios and Universal Pictures, with some big reveals and footage screenings.

Walt Disney Studios

Following the opening remarks for the Walt Disney Studios presentation, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige appeared live onstage. He introduced a special extended first look featuring Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. This was basically the first 15-20 minutes of the film, as Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) returns with his next solo outing for the MCU.

I’ve been keenly interested in this film, and I’m really glad I got to see this footage. Without giving too much away, the first 20 minutes does look promising, my issues with the heavy utilization of the Multiverse aside. Thus far, the story looks like a good reintroduction back into Doctor Stephen Strange’s world of magic and sorcerers. America Chavez and her abilities are at the center of this multiverse-hopping plot.

The footage included two major action sequences. With Sam Raimi at the helm, there were a couple nice callbacks to his past films. There were actually some pretty grisly visuals that at least show that Sam Raimi hasn’t lost his old touch for horror gore and violence. The footage also showed how and why Scarlet Witch, aka Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen), is brought into the fold. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness arrives on May 6. So, not long to go.

The Walt Disney Studios screening also featured the debut of the first 30 minutes of Pixar’s Lightyear. I truly believe this film has been getting overlooked. I was very excited about Pixar doing a hard sci-fi story, and that’s exactly what this film is. It does have a lot of familiar Pixar trademarks and the classic Pixar style, but with a hard sci-fi narrative and plot.

My one issue with Lightyear is the framing device that this is like the movie the Buzz Lightyear toy from the original 1995 Toy Story film was based on. So, basically Lightyear is a movie within the Toy Story movie universe. I’m not sure that was necessary. I would’ve much preferred if this was the real-life Buzz Lightyear within the universe that inspired the toys and Buzz Lightyear of Star Command.

Basically, that reveal puts this film on a similar footing of the Star Command animated series. Otherwise, I do think the movie looks great. During an exploration mission, Captain Buzz Lightyear and his crew of Space Rangers are stranded on a hostile alien planet. Buzz’s misguided swagger causes the crew to get stranded and their hyperspace fuel source destroyed. This leads to a situation where the crew try to build test vehicles to hopefully bring them home.

I really enjoyed what I got to see of Chris Evans vocal performance as Buzz Lightyear and creating a real person behind the legend. His swagger and persona are very reminiscent of James T. Kirk. This also looks like one of the most adult and sophisticated stories that Pixar has crafted thus far. This is much closer to Interstellar, Star Trek, and 2001: A Space Odyssey than say Toy Story. This is not to say past Pixar films were all kiddie fare without dark, introspective moments, but it’s great to see a Pixar film done with a different look and style such as this.

Now, I can’t talk about footage without mentioning Sox the Cat. Sox is an AI cat robot companion for Buzz Lightyear , and he is this movie’s designated scene-stealer. Peter Sohn’s (Pixar veteran and The Good Dinosaur director) vocal performance and delivery were perfect. I think people are going to love Sox, and I would love to buy some sort of Sox toy or replica now. Pixar finally returns to theaters with Lightyear on June 17.

Moving over to the 20th Century Studios portion of the panel, the opening sequence was shown for The Bob’s Burgers Movie. Things started off with a musical number, with the whole family singing and dancing. The restaurant is in trouble as Bob is badly in need of a loan from the bank. This looks like fun, and I’m glad to see a traditionally animated feature and the Bob’s Burger style and characters look good on the big screen with a feature-level budget and animation. And hey, H. Jon Benjamin got the job done for that musical number.

After that, it was finally a time to return to the world of Pandora and Avatar 2. Producer Jon Landau appeared live to intro the first look at the movie and share his support for the theater owners and exhibitors. James Cameron expressed similar sentiments in his recorded video introduction. Cameron is still working on the film in Wellington, New Zealand currently. He talked about how the intent with Avatar 2 was to once again push the limits of what was possible with the 3D format.

There was a lot of Pandora footage, but it didn’t offer a great sense of the plot. The new teaser featured a lot of stunning visuals and impressive shots that were complete. We did see a lot of Jake Sully and his family, including his adopted human son. At one point, Jake tells Neytiri to console her, “Wherever we go, I know one thing. This family is our fortress.”

The footage was shown in Dolby 3D. This is the teaser trailer that will debut next week exclusively in theaters with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Avatar: The Way of Water finally, *FINALLY* arrives in theaters on December 16.

Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures came out in force with a lot of big-screen reveals for CinemaCon 2022. Last year, the Universal Pictures presentation had various theater owners and workers from across the country introducing their upcoming films. Continuing that theme this year, the Universal Pictures presentation would have a star or filmmaker come out with a theater owner, general manager, or worker to assist in introducing the showcases.

After the opening remarks, Jamie Lee Curtis was out first for the Halloween Ends showcase. Curtis spoke about the importance of Laurie Strode as a character and how she became an icon and hero for cinema. The Halloween Ends sizzle reel featured footage for from the original and new trilogy, leading up to some new footage from Halloween Ends.

In the new footage, Laurie is hiding from Michael Myers in a kitchen, who is stalking her. Eventually, she springs out and they start to fight. It’s very brutal and nasty. Laurie manages to stab Michael in the hand with a knife. It ends with her standing over him, holding the knife in a very strange fashion. Halloween Ends hits theaters on October 14.

Oscar-winning filmmaker Jordan Peele was in attendance to showcase his new film Nope. Peele spoke about bringing original stories and films to the screen and enjoying movies with sequences that make people just yell out “Nope!” or “Get out of that house!” That theme continues with his new film, Nope, which hits theaters on July 22. Peele also spoke about filming the movie in 65mm and IMAX, which sounds very exciting.

I’m not sure what’s exactly happening in Nope, but it may or may not be an alien invasion. However, don’t quote me on that. This looked to have more of a comedic edge mixed with horror than Peele’s last two films, like it looks like this one might be more of a horror-comedy mashup.

Steve Carell appeared live to showcase Minions: The Rise of Gru. A new trailer was shown. Carell had an enjoyable intro with a theater manager, who demonstrated his Gru impression for Carell. Carell joked about how Gru’s accent sounds like someone who flew over Europe and picked up what they heard from various countries.

If you like the antics of the Minions, you are probably going to love The Rise of Gru. I’m happy to see a young Gru will be along for the ride in this story. Minions: The Rise of Gru hits theaters on July 1.

During the Focus Features portion of the presentation, the film that stood out the most to me is the upcoming action comedy, Violent Night. This looks like a glorious, R-rated Christmas-themed action movie. It looks like Die Hard in a small town, and the hero is like a mall-strip Santa Claus portrayed by David Harbour. When a bad guy is interrogating him about where he is, he deadpans, “I’m jolly old Saint Nick.” This looks like it’s going to be awesome. Just as an example of the exaggerated violence and gore, David Harbour’s Santa tosses a Christmas tree star into a guy’s eyeball and then lights it up to electrocute the bad guy. The violence looks over-the-top in a cartoonish fashion. The movie will hit theaters on December 2.

Lastly, Jurassic World Dominion stars Bryce Dallas Howard and Jeff Goldblum appeared to introduce the new trailer for the upcoming sequel. I think the best way to describe the introduction and pairing Goldblum and Howard in this setting was gloriously awkward.

Based on the trailer, the vibe I get from this sequel is that it’s almost like Rise of the Planet of the Apes. It almost looks pre-apocalyptic before the world goes Planet of the Dinosaurs. Or maybe it would be a world of Cadillacs & Dinosaurs. That’s a live-action movie I would like to see. Make Cadillacs & Dinosaurs the future world of the Jurassic Park franchise.

It appears the dinosaurs that escaped from Isla Nublar are evolving beyond what they were designed to be and do. “Life finds a way” as it were. Jurassic World Dominion hits theaters on June 10.

That wraps up my CinemaCon 2022 Day 3 recap. I’ll be back soon with my recap of Day 4.