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CinemaCon 2023 Day 1 Recap: Sony Pictures, Bad Boys 4, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse Footage, Kraven the Hunter

April 26, 2023 | Posted by Jeffrey Harris
SPIDER-MAN: ACROSS THE SPIDER-VERSE Image Credit: Sony Pictures Animation

411mania is back once again for this year’s CinemaCon. CinemaCon 2023 kicked things off on Monday with the first studio showcase for Sony Pictures Entertainment. Some of these films were previously showcased and snippets were shown at last year’s event, but this year provided a more broader look, plus some new films Sony has coming down the pike for later this year and next year.

Martin Lawrence and Will Smith opened up the panel this year to hype Bad Boys 4. They were in a pre-recorded video from the set of the film, which is currently four weeks into production. Will Smith said they are sorry they couldn’t be hear, but Martin Lawrence started some banter that the audience at CinemaCon is sophisticated and understand why they can’t be there right now. Very little in the way of details on Bad Boys 4 other than that filming is underway, with Smith and Lawrence back for another round. They then introduced the Sony Pictures President Josh Greenstein who offered a brief rundown of the upcoming Sony Pictures slate.

The first major film showcase is the new movie Dumb Money, a new film from Craig Gillespie (I, Tonya) about the GameStop stock story. The film boasts an all-star cast including Paul Dano, Seth Rogen, Nick Offerman, Sebastian Stan, Shailene Woodley, Vincent D’Onofrio, Clancy Brown, America Ferrera, Dane DeHaan, Pete Davidson, and Anthony Ramos. Gillespie and Dano were on hand for the presentation. The footage featured the movie’s opening, and showing the start of Gabe Plotkin’s (Rogen) plans for the GameStop stock going up in smoke. Dano portrays Keith Gill, the YouTuber and Redditor who incited the driving up of the GameStop stock. This is basically a movie about underdogs getting together and handing a win to the rich Wall Street fat cats. It looks to have a very humorous and comedic tone, so it looks like it could be a lot of fun. The film is due out on October 20 in theaters.

Next up was a short teaser trailer for Insidious: The Red Door. This looks to be a direct sequel to Insidious: Chapter Two. The entire main cast from the first two films are back. Even Lin Shaye is back as Elise Rainier. However, it looks like she’s only appearing through newly discovered video footage to make that work. Patrick Wilson directing this time sounds interesting. I didn’t much care for the last two Insidious films, but I’m hoping this will be more of a return to form. The film opens in theaters on July 7.

Patrick Wilson in Screen Gems Insidious: The Red Door

Patrick Wilson in Screen Gems Insidious: The Red Door

Sony’s next film was a comedy starring comedian Bert Kreischer called The Machine. Kreischer did an amusing little pre-recorded sketch to intro the film dressed as Ariel from The Little Mermaid. This is supposedly inspired by a true story from Kreischer’s stand-up routine about a story with the Russian mob in his youth. It looks like in this film, the Russian mob is back for some payback against Kreischer, who portrays himself. Also along for the ride is the one and only Mark Hamill, portraying Kreischer’s father. The Machine opens in theaters on May 26.

11367930 - THE MACHINE

Albert Kreischer (Mark Hamill) and Bert (Bert Kreischer) in Screen Gems’ THE MACHINE.

The highly anticipated sequel, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse was featured next. Last year, Sony Pictures revealed the first 14 minutes or so of the film. This looked to be the next segment of about 14 minutes or show, featuring Miles Morales (Shameik Moore), aka Spider-Man, reuniting with Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld), aka Spider-Woman. Co-director Kemp Powers, Moore, Steinfeld, and Issa Rae were on hand to talk about and intro the film.

Sony Pictures CinemaCon Presentation, The Colosseum at Caesar’s Palace, Las Vegas, CA, USA - 24 Apr 2023

Image Credit: Sony Pictures Animation

The banter with Miles and Gwen reuniting was very cute as Gwen explores his room. They then go out on a romantic swing around the city together, as Gwen fills him in on what she’s been doing since the first film and joining an elite team of multiversal spider-heroes, led by Miguel O’Hara (Oscar Isaac), aka Spider-Man from the year 2099. However, Gwen has an ulterior motive, as she’s shown to be secretly surveiling The Spot (Jason Schwartzman) while visiting Miles.

Miles is at a crossroads with his vigilante life, wondering if he should tell his parents his secret to try and make them understand. Gwen advises him otherwise, pointing out how her own father now believes she’s a murderer after finding out she’s Spider-Woman. I really enjoyed how the Miles and Gwen scenes subtely showcased their spider-powers while they were speaking to one another. Rather than walking upright, they are walking sideways around a giant tower. Or they sit together quietly underneath a ledge rather than on top of it. It adds an interesting level and immersion and dynamics to their perspective and abilities. It’s clear that Gwen sees that Miles has the hots for her. She points out that in almost every other universe, Gwen Stacy falls for Spider-man and it ends badly. Miles wonders if it can be different here.

In the next scene, Miles and Gwen are enjoying a type of rooftop block party at Miles’ childhood home, with his parents also present. Gwen has an awkwardly cute scene where she meets Miles’ parents. Gwen gets an alert on her special bracelet from Spidey 2099 and takes her leave. This is followed by a nice scene between Miles and his mother. His mother probably doesn’t know he’s Spider-Man yet, but she probably does know he’s harboring a big secret at this point. She has a nice heart-to-heart with Miles, asking him to watch out for the little boy she raised and to never forget where he came from, and she also encourages him to go after Gwen, even though he’s still grounded.

Spider-Man Across the Spider-Verse - Gwen and Miles

Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld) and Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) in Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Animations’ SPIDER-MAN™: ACROSS THE SPIDER-VERSE.

I thought the family, Miles, and Gwen scenes were really well done and directed. They felt quietly deep, and they provided some much-needed character development. I like that Miles looks older now and he’s maturing, and this story looks to be a major step in his journey as Spider-Man. Not all of the footage was completely animated, but the finished material looked exceptional. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse arrives in theaters on June 2.


Spider-Man/Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) in Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Animations’ SPIDER-MAN™: ACROSS THE SPIDER-VERSE.

The next part of the showcase was Kraven the Hunter. Star Aaron Taylor-Johnson provided a pre-recorded introduction revealing that the movie will in fact be R-rated. He said this would be a grounded Marvel superhero story and ran down the cast. The sizzle reel really seems to be selling R-rating as the big hook for the film. Kraven is an anti-poacher in this film. At one point, he bites off someone’s nose and spits it out. Notably, there will be a new version of The Rhino in the film. There was a brief tease in the sizzle reel of The Rhino. You don’t see him in full view, but you see a man’s arm start to transform. Kraven’s father (Russell Crowe) and his half-brother Dmitri Smerdyakov / Chameleon (Fred Hechinger) also appear to be villains in the film. Though, we don’t see Hechinger actually looking like Chameleon from the comics. I recall the sizzle reel had a tease of Kraven looking at his lion vest garb from the comics, but we never actually see him wear it in the footage.

We’ll see how all this plays out. I’m not really sold on the R-rating. Not to mention, I’m somewhat annoyed that we aren’t seeing any of these characters interacting with Spider-Man since they are all Spider-Man rogues. I don’t get the idea behind making Kraven into an anti-poacher. I guess the hunter thing is more like he’s a natural apex predator now and not like a sport hunter. I get that they want Kraven to be the good guy, but I’ve never been much of a fan of good guy Kraven.

Sony also had an early look at the upcoming Gran Turismo movie, based on the PlayStation racing game franchise. This looks like your typical underdog sports movie. Archie Madekwe portrays Jann Mardenborough, an expert Gran Turismo player who actually gets the opportunity to become a professional driver after winning a series of gaming competitions. David Harbour co-stars in the film Jack Salter, the crusty trainer who has to turn Jann into an actual racecar driver. I’m not exactly sure if this will clear that low bar for video game films, but it might do well. I do like David Harbour at least. Gran Turismo opens on August 11.

As far as comedies go, No Hard Feelings looks like it could be fun. It’s a new star vehicle for Jennifer Lawrence, a down-on-her-luck woman who is hired by wealthy parents to “date” their introverted and shy son, Percy, before he goes to college. Desperate to avoid getting her home taken away, Maddie (Lawrence) takes the gig, but realizes that the job isn’t easy as it seems. The scene shown during the presentation showed Maddie visiting Percy at his job at a dog shelter. She lays it on really heavy, but the shy Percy isn’t really picking up what she’s putting down. Maddie then tries to drive Percy back to her place, and it’s filled with all sorts of junk that makes Percy fear for his life and that Maddie is some type of psychopath. The highlight of the scene was easily Percy whipping out the pepper spray and dousing Maddie with it. This looks like it could be an amusing break from type from Lawrence and a fun comedy. The pepper spray scene had me wanting to see it at least.

Filmmaker Jason Reitman released a video from the set of the next Ghostbusters movie, which will be a sequel to Ghostbusters: Afterlife. We finally get confirmation that Mckenna Grace is back Phoebe Spengler, Finn Wolfhard returns as her older brother Trevor, Carrie Coon as their mom Callie, and Paul Rudd as Gary Grooberson. It looks like they are a family now and taking the story back to New York City. We got some more of Mckenna’s trademark jokes. I liked Ghostbusters: Afterlife, so I’m glad to see the cast is returning. Also very excited to see they are relocating back to New York, and it looks like the kids have a new stepdad or soon-to-be stepdad with Grooberson. The film is still currently untitled, and it’s currently slated for a December 20 release date. It wouldn’t surprise me if that release date gets pushed back, but we’ll see.

Director Antoine Fuqua came out to honor award-winning actor Denzel Washington with the CinemaCon Lifetime Achievement Award before previewing their new film, which will be The Equalizer 3. In the new film, Washington’s former government agent, Robert McCall relocates to Italy, and he appears to be protecting with a family he recently bonded with from some unsavory characters. This one gave me a bit more of a Man on Fire vibe for some reason, except Italy as the setting. I guess it’s because Washington’s Man on Fire costar, Dakota Fanning, also has a role in the film. She looks to be some type of investigator or CIA agent in the film. The Equalizer films are fun little action-thriller movies, so I will more than likely check this one out.

Sony Pictures CinemaCon Presentation, The Colosseum at Caesar’s Palace, Las Vegas, CA, USA - 24 Apr 2023

Image Credit: Sony Pictures

To close out the Sony Pictures presentation, Sony Pictures Chairman Tom Rothman announced that Sony is partnering with Apple Films to release Ridley Scott’s upcoming Napoleon Bonaparte film, Napoleon, in theaters for a wide release. The upcoming feature stars Joaquin Phoenix as the legendary, real-life military leader. A full battle sequence from the film was shown. Phoenix as Bonaparte is shown outsmarting and outmaneuvering the enemy force, allowing them to believe they have the upper hand in the open battlefield. Napoleon Bonaparte then gives the orders outflank and surround the enemy, forcing them to retreat over a frozen lake. The French army then fires cannons to cut off their escape and send the enemy army to a watery grave.

It was a large-scale battle scene that looked brutal and gritty. I’m not totally sold on Phoenix’s performance as Bonaparte, but the sequence only showed a few snippets of it. I think Sony Pictures releasing this film in theaters is great news, and I wonder if this is something we’ll see more of in the future. Ridley Scott’s Napoleon hits theaters on November 22.

I will be back soon with more from CinemaCon 2023, including Day 2 with Warner Bros. Pictures and more.