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CinemaCon 2024 Day 4 Recap: Deadpool & Wolverine, Sonic the Hedgehog 3, Alien: Romulus

May 2, 2024 | Posted by Jeffrey Harris
DEADPOOL & WOLVERINE, CinemaCon footage Image Credit: 20th Century Studios/Marvel Studios

I’m finally back to finish recapping Day 4 of CinemaCon 2024 continued on Thursday, April 11 for the fourth and final day of the convention. Thursday featured some big-ticket studio presentations for Walt Disney Studios and Paramount Pictures. Walt Disney Studios made quite the splash, showing extended footage reels for Deadpool & Wolverine, Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes, and Inside Out 2. Meanwhile, Paramount Pictures revealed some big announcements and also debuted new footage for Sonic the Hedgehog 3, Gladiator II, and a whole lot more.

The day started off with the Paramount Pictures CinemaCon presentation. Studio President of Distribution Chris Aronson made his customary grand entrance. This year, he entered on a Roman chariot with with extras dressed in centurion armor with spears in the style of Gladiator. Of course, Gladiator II will be one of the films showcased during the presentation.

John Krasinski shared a recorded video message to introduce his upcoming film IF. Now, I’ve noticed more than a few people call this a live-action version of Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, and I can definitely see that. But I also see the Pixar influence as well. I recall last year, the film was described as a live-action Pixar film. It looks like it has the potential to be a sweet, enjoyable, and whimsical family comedy. I at least like the designs of all the Imaginary Friend characters because they all look unique. It’s quite the list of voice talent, but Steve Carell’s Blue and Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Blossom look like they will be the central or standout ones. IF opens in theaters on May 17.

Lupita Nyong’o and Joseph Quinn came out to introduce a sizzle reel of footage for A Quiet Place: Day One. The previous two films were great, and this looks like it will make for a strong new addition to the series. Day One rewinds the story back to the first day of the alien invasion, showing the perspective of a handful of survivors in New York City. The change of setting looks incredibly exciting because the earlier films you largely only saw the aftermath is small rural towns. Day One puts the viewers literally at ground zero showing the aliens when they first attacked in a major city and urban hub.

This looks like it will be a strong expansion for the franchise. The New York setting make the story look bigger and grander than ever before. There’s some harrowing imagery of what looks like the Air Force shooting down bridges to quarantine the city. Also, the presence of Djimon Hounsou shows how they are connecting this back to the second film. The monsters [Death Angels?] look as creepy and formidable as ever. Seeing them crawling across buildings and skyscrapers gives them a fresh layer of terror. Director Michael Sarnoski definitely looks to be doing justice to the series that Krasinski started. A Quiet Place: Day One arrives on June 28.

Paramount showcased an early teaser trailer for Sonic the Hedgehog 3! This was definitely one of the key showcases during the Paramount presentation. This was more than just a typical teaser as there was a sizable chunk of enticing new footage throughout the sizzle reel. The good news is that Jim Carrey is back as Dr. Robotnik. The trailer opens up with Robotnik wallowing in depression in his base. He’s been eating lots of junk food and gained some weight in his defeat. His hair has grown out and he looks absolutely disheveled and slovenly. However, Agent Stone (Lee Majdoub) arrives indicating, “We found him!” He clearly had a quill sample, and it looked blue. But I’m not 100% sure on that one. Wouldn’t they already know where Sonic is? Were they looking for Shadow and not Sonic? I think it’s just something that will be more clear in the final film.

Agent Stone’s news gets Dr. Robotnik excited, so he gets all cleaned up and spruced up: new haircut and new outfit. I’m glad Carrey is back. He’s terrific in this role, and it seems with each film he grows more like the Dr. Robotnik of the games. Of course, the teaser trailer featured a decent amount of Shadow, who looks great. There looks to be a scene where some soldiers, perhaps GUN agents, locate Shadow’s lab, and he breaks out of his stasis chamber. Shadow didn’t speak or have any dialogue in the teaser trailer, so there’s no voice-over reveal for Shadow just yet. If that Keanu Reeves rumor pans out, I do think that’s a solid casting choice for the Ultimate Life Form.

Another sequence teased shows Shadow emerging from a portal possibly being observed or confronted by Sonic Team. Knuckles notes out loud about Shadow, “He’s far more impressive than the last Hedgehog I faced!” Sonic replies, “You mean me!” Knuckles bluntly responds, “Yes!” For all the movies flaws, the material between Sonic and his pals is on point and works the best. The human material is often annoying and unfunny, but they at least nail the characters you really care about. Another impressive sequence shows Shadow on Dark Rider, and he’s flying through the air, and he makes a diving jump off Dark Rider straight toward Sonic, who is flying through the air toward Shadow, as they look to be fighting over a dark cityscape.

Another interesting reveal from the teaser trailer, it looks like at some point in the film, Sonic and Dr. Robotnik will begrudgingly team-up. The teaser showed them exiting a portal, with Robotnik bumping into Sonic going, “Watch it, Dork-u-pine!” I’m very much looking forward to Sonic the Hedgehog 3, which hits theaters on December 20.

Paramount made a lot of interesting and exciting announcements about future films during the presentation of a bunch of exciting new projects they look to be releasing over the next two years (2025-2026). Now, I’m sure some of these plans may not follow through or could be in flux due to a potential merger or sale of the studio, but some of the announcements, if they come to fruition sound exciting. Now, if they can actually come through on making Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin, I’m definitely intrigued by that project. I think it’s definitely a deep-cut, but I think a potentially great story to adapt as a standalone, R-rated movie for TMNT franchise. I hope that one comes to fruition.

For now, I will be cautiously optimistic about a potential G.I. Joe/Transformers crossover movie that was announced. The talent behind the camera will be key to getting this right, but the live-action Transformers movies, save for Bumblebee, have yet to really impress me. The live-action G.I. Joe movies have not been anything to write home about either. Personally, I’d be okay if this film is a fresh start for both film franchises, but we’ll see how it goes.

Paramount CEO Brian Robbins also announced a new live-action musical comedy that’s being worked on by South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker they are collaborating on with rapper Kendrick Lamar. This one definitely has my interest piqued, especially since this is an original script. Robbins also talked up a revival of the Scary Movie franchise, and the Naked Gun series. Sadly, there was no Naked Gun reveal with footage of Liam Neeson. I think Neeson’s comedic talents are underrated, and this could be a good fit for him. That said, I’d much rather see a new type of spoof film rather than a remake of Naked Gun. I think those films are classic, and Neeson owned that role of Frank Drebin. But I’m always willing to give a movie a chance, so we’ll see.

The Paramount presentation provided a nice-sized showcase of Transformers One. Stars Brian Tyree-Henry (D-16/Megatron) and Chris Hemsworth (Orion Pax/Optimus Prime) were both live in attendance to introduce the new trailer. Scarlett Johansson also appeared in a pre-recorded video to help introduce the trailer. I’m a big Transformers fan, so my thoughts on this a little complex.

So far, the animation looks great. I like the aesthetic for the world and the overall look of the characters. They aren’t mimicking the live-action movie aesthetic. The animation looks fluid and dynamic, and it looks like the film will provide an expanded look at Cybertron. I’m on board, at least on paper, with telling an origin story about Optimus Prime and Megatron before the start of the Autobot-Decepticon Civil War. I think the animation style looks good. Cybertron looks massive and highly-detailed. I like that you can see elements of each character within each Cybertronian, and the film will show how the main characters, the ragtag group of D-16, Orion Pax, B-127 (Keegan Michael-Key), and Elita-1 (Johansson) go on a mission to find the Matrix of Leadership. Over the course of their journey, they will gain their T-Cogs and the ability to transform.

I like that the Quintessons look to be the villains here, and they are still ruling over an oppressive Cybertron. Transformers has always had a rich mythology rife for storytelling that the film looks to be taking advantage of. This looks like Cybertron sometime after it was terraformed and became a robot factory at the service of the Quintessons.

The main problems with the footage that was shown was ton. The film looks to be laying it on very thick with the goofy jokes and kid-friendly humor. Some of the dialogue and jokes sounded forced and unfunny. It’s fine that they are using Keegan Michael-Key’s manic energy for Bumblebee, but it looks like they want to make all the other characters overly comedic, and it feels like too much incessant humor. Just an example, that exchange in the trailer between Pax and D-16 where D-16 says, “I’m not talking to you…you know what?! We are so screwed!” Pax replies, “I thought you weren’t talking to me.” Hopefully, the humor is more balanced in the final product, but the early footage appeared to overly emphasize the humorous side of the film. I understand they want this movie to appeal to younger viewers and a younger audience, but they aren’t using the best Cybertronians to create humor that comes from a more natural, character-based perspective.

Some of the voices also sounded rather miscast. Based on the sampling of footage, Hemsworth doesn’t appear to be a good fit for Pax/Optimus. Granted, this is meant to be Optimus Prime before he becomes Optimus Prime, but Hemsworth doesn’t sound like a natural fit. For one, he’s using a base American accent that sounds a little awkward. I did like the look of the new alt-modes in the trailer and how the characters get upgrades after gaining their t-cogs. The designs truthfully remind me more of the War for Cybertron games than any other existing form of Transformers media. The High Moon video games are personal favorites, so I’m totally good with that from a design perspective.

Besides the trailer, a full sequence was shown. Based on their rapport, D-16 and Orion look to be troublemakers who know Elita-1 and have gotten her demoted before. Elita-1 looks to be a worker-bot who loads cargo on trains, and it looks like the bots are not allowed to go to the surface of Cybertron. The sequence shows Pax, D-16, and B-127 aboard a freight train Elita-1 is working, and they give chase to her, but she’s hearing none of it. They reach the top of the train and try to convince Elita-1 that they are on a mission. They’ve gained access to a secret map that will lead them to the Matrix of Leadership. Elita-1 is skeptical, she also makes mention of the Primes, but soon they notice a type of glacial wave is about to engulf and destroy the train. B-127 runs away first before the scene ends.

I’m a longtime Transformers, so I will definitely be there day one for this. Visually, it does look stunning, and even if the humor is cringe-inducing, it looks like it will have enough world-building and elements to keep me engaged and excited about the franchise. Transformers One hits theaters on September 20.

While there was no footage shown, Paramount did announce that the new animated movie, Aang: The Last Airbender is on the horizon. Dave Bautista is voicing the villain. I’m glad we look to be getting theatrical animated features for The Last Airbender, so I hope these do get theatrical releases.

The Paramount CinemaCon presentation also showcased the upcoming sequel, Gladiator II. This began with a pre-recorded video featuring Ridley Scott and the other stars talking about the experience of the new film. The extended sizzle reel showcased Paul Mescal, who is portraying Lucius, the child of Lucilla (Connie Nielsen), from the first movie. So this film largely looks to be set around both Lucius and Pedro Pascal, who looks to be a Roman general. For whatever reason, it looks like Lucius has found himself enslaved and a gladiator, who like Maximus, now seeks to lead a rebellion and topple Rome.

Denzel Washington costars in the film playing a Promixo-type character, and Nielsen is also back as Lucilla. The footage didn’t exactly make it clear that Mescal is portraying Lucius. Pascal looks to be Roman general who is a man of honor and turns against his tyrannical leaders. It looks like he has a closer relationship with Lucilla in the footage and is possibly her new husband? It wasn’t completely clear. It looks like later on Lucius and Pascal’s character are forced to fight one another in the arena against their wills.

The scope of the film definitely looks huge, and it does look like Scott wants to showcase things he never got the chance with the first film. For example, the footage showed a full-on water battle in the coliseum, with the fighting pit filled with water, ships for a naval fight, and sharks. There was footage of another sequence showing Lucius fighting wild baboons in another fighting pit. This scene did not come off great. It also looks like there will be massive battle sequences as well.

I’m somewhat mixed on the footage so far. The production values definitely look huge and epic. The scope looks massive, but the story still is not clear. Why is Lucius a gladiator now? What put him on this path? Gladiator always felt like a movie that never needed and should never have a sequel, but here we are. Hopefully, the plot will become more clear when the film arrives in theaters on November 22.

Switching things over to Walt Disney Studios, it’s time to recap the final presentation of CinemaCon 2024. At the start of the presentation, we got an amusing introduction featuring Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) and Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) telling people to turn off their cellphones complete with bleeped curse words. This will likely be a “turn off your devices” intro shown in theaters when Deadpool & Wolverine comes out. Jackman definitely had fun throwing some colorful phrases. Before the main meat of the panel, there was a banner showcasing the upcoming slate and studios under the Disney banner, with an emphasis on upcoming new installments of Frozen, Avatar, Avengers, Toy Story, and Star Wars in the works.

The presentation showed a look at the first 13 minutes of Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes. Opting to tell a new story with new characters hundreds of years after the last movie was a wise choice. The prologue sequence shows a young ape, Noah (Owen Teague), who looks to be traveling with either his close friends or siblings. It looks like they are searching for eagle eggs, as their tribe raises and trains eagles. They search through the ruins of skycrapers for the nests, and Noah has a close call trying to snatch an egg out of another nest.

After the apes return home, Noah’s village is ransacked by what looks to be a tyrannical and violent ape tribe. They murder Noah’s father and kidnap his other relatives. This sets Noah off on a journey to find and rescue his family. The visual effects and motion capture for the apes continues to be one of this franchise’s strongest assets. It’s also interesting to see how ape society and civilization is evolving. It looks like apes have now splintered into tribes, and they are fighting among each other. Wes Ball looks like he’s honoring what the previous films put forth while also advancing the overall story and world-building. Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes arrives in theaters on May 10.

Next up was a nice chunk of footage for Inside Out 2, as Disney showed the first 35 minutes of the feature to the audience. Inside Out was a wonderful film, and it looks like Inside Out 2 will follow the tradition of exceptional Pixar sequels. The sequel is about Riley going through puberty and dealing with all the new emotions as she’s maturing into her teen years. The footage was fun because it showcases how Joy (Amy Poehler) and all the other emotions are working so well together and things are going great. However, just as Riley is about to embark on an important hockey camp, all the new emotions show up and create havoc for Headquarters.

So far, I’m enjoying all the new emotion characters, specifically Anxiety (Maya Hawke) and Ennui (Adèle Exarchopoulos) looks like she will be a scene-stealer. Anxiety looks to be acting as the uninintentional antagonist this time around, as she seeks to take control of Emotion HQ and rebuild Riley’s sense of self. Anxiety is not doing this with malicious intent as she just wants what is best for Riley, but it looks like it will wreak havoc on Riley’s relationships with her close friends so Anxiety can get her closer to cool kids at the hockey camp. During the footage, there’s a hilarious sequence, where the other emotions get locked up in a vault, so they have to break out. The Lance Slashblade gag was hilarious. Imagine a parody mash-up of Cloud Strife and Link from The Legend of Zelda. He’s voiced by Yong Yea.

Some of the voice changes are a bit jarring, specifically Tony Hale as Fear and Lizzy Lapira as Disgust. They by no means sound bad, but Bill Hader and Mindy Kaling are definitely missed in their roles. Hale and Lapira look to be doing solid work. It’s a bit reminiscent of how main roles are recast when an animated movie gets adapted into an episodic series format. That’s not to discount the actors on the series, as they do solid work for the established characters as well. All the other lead actors look to be back, and the new additions look a lot of fun for the parents and kids. Inside Out 2 arrives on June 14.

Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige took the stage next to showcase the upcoming Marvel Studios slate at CinemaCon. Feige talked up both Fantastic Four and Thunderbolts* [the asterisk is part of the title], which will be hitting theaters and IMAX next year. Captain America: Brave New World received an extended look, with Feige pointing out wanting the film to revisit the political-thriller tone set by 2014’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Star Anthony Mackie came out for an extended preview of footage for the film. In the first clip, President Ross (Harrison Ford) meets with Sam Wilson, noting that he had to lose his mustache or “lose the election.” President Ross wants Wilson to reform the Avengers. The next clip shows President Ross leading some type of intelligence briefing, likely at the White House. Isaiah Bradley (Carl Lumbly) The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is in the room. Ross takes note of Wilson and Joaquin Torres/Falcon (Danny Ramirez) securing something of great importance. A song starts playing, and it appears to some form of psychic manipulation on Bradley, who then attacks President Ross. Ross is unharmed before he goes on the loose. The new installment of the MCU arrives on February 14, 2025.

Next up, Feige brought out director Shawn Levy to introduce about nine minutes of footage for Deadpool & Wolverine! What was shown looked to be a sequence from earlier in the film. It looks like Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) has effectively retired from his assassin days and given up being Deadpool. He’s now working midlife hell as a used car salesman with Peter (Rob Delaney). They then head to Deadpool’s apartment for a birthday party, but poor Deadpool is absolutely miserable. Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) is alive, but she and Wade are no longer together.

Wade is now living with Blind Al (Leslie Uggams, also back) and of course they do the cocaine joke from the trailer. Wade answers the door, and it’s the TVA agents. There’s a bit more of what’s been shown in previous footage, as Deadpool believes the TVA agents have all been prostitutes hired to sexually service him. So yeah, they are definitely having fun with this being Disney and Marvel Studios’ first R-rated movie.

Deadpool is taken to the TVA and introduced Mister Paradox (Matthew Macfadyen), who looks to be the head honcho now. Deadpool thinks he’s been taken in because of messing with Cable’s device and his past time travel shenanigans. However, Mister Paradox reveals that Deadpool hasn’t been taken into their custody because of the events of Deadpool 2. Instead, Mister Paradox claims that Deadpool is destined to become a hero who will save the “Sacred Timeline.” Deadpool makes some pointed jokes about MCU cameos and appearances. In a fun gag, he walks right up to the camera and says [paraphrasing], “Suck it, Fox! I’m going to Disneyland!”

Just in the nine minutes alone, there was a great deal of meta humor and fourth-wall breaking jokes. Deadpool already knows who Captain America and Thor are. Deadpool even gets a look on a TVA screen showing Thor cradling a wounded and badly hurt Deadpool in a tender moment. Obviously, Mister Paradox doesn’t want Deadpool seeing that as it’s from the future. Deadpool references things like the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and Paradox also seems to have an understanding of what that is as well. There was also a bit more edited montage clips together, and there was also footage of Deadpool making fun of Wolverine’s suit. I’m glad Deadpool and Wolverine are teaming up in this one as their personalities will likely balance each other out. Wolverine clearly can’t stand Deadpool, but he can’t just slice him to death and shut him up since Deadpool is basically unkillable. Deadpool & Wolverine finally arrives on July 26.

The presentation showcased yet another sequel in Alien: Romulus. Director Fede Alvarez and franchise veteran Ridley Scott introduced the new footage in a pre-recorded introduction. The extended footage showcased the group of young interstellar scavengers who look to be exploring a Weyland-Yutani space station. This looks to be a research space station. The full sequence that was shown showed three of the male teammates being trapped in an incubation chamber that’s full of Xenomorph Facehuggers.

Things grow tense as they clearly don’t know what they’ve just unlocked. The group fiddles with some of the tech in the room as they are locked in, but doing so wakes up the Facehuggers, as they start to wake up and gain freedom from their pods while the group’s synthetic android, Andy (David Jonsson) is rebooting before he can unlock the door. The Facehuggers start attacking them, but Andy manages to reboot just in time to help them and open the door. However, the Facehuggers start swarming the door en masse and break through the glass, leading to one of the crewmates (Aileen Wu) getting attacked by a Facehugger before it cuts to the next sequence.

In the next sequence, Wu and Isabela Merced’s character look to be aboard their shuttle, but the Xenomorph is about to burst out of the chest of Wu’s character. In a grim scene, Wu begs Merced’s character not to let her die as the chestburster breaks out. A special x-ray medical gadget was found earlier, and one of the crewmmates gets a brief look at the chestbuster before it makes its appearance. The chestburster burth sends the shuttle careening out of control. It looks like it hits one of the fuel pods of the space station, causing an explosion. Merced’s character is knocked unconscious, and the infant Xenomorph comes alive.

The mixed results of Prometheus and Alien: Covenant notwithstanding, this looks to be off to a promising start at least. Hopefully, Alvarez can ignore the lesser aspects and additions of the prequels and get back to basics with this franchise. The choice of the young cast is interesting. It does have a bit of an Evil Dead meets Alien type of vibe, with a group of young people basically discovering a giant haunted house in space. Except in this instance, the monsters or ghosts are Xenomorphs. One thing I did like during the Facehugger attack is that the kids seemed smart enough to try and fight off the creatures from attaching to their faces. Andy appeared more Bishop than Ash in his scene. It’s no Alien movie without a synthetic character after all. Looks to be greatly different from David of the last two movies. Alien: Romulus hits theaters on August 16.

The Moana 2 presentation featuring a live appearance from Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson closed things out for Disney at CinemaCon. Johnson came fresh off WrestleMania 40 and spoke about how he based his character of Maui on his grandfather, High Chief Peter Maivia. Johnson introduced a full musical sequence for the film, featuring the return of Princess Moana (Auli’i Cravalho). In the new sequence, she’s returning to her home village from an expedition as she sings about “We’re back to where we belong.”

The upcoming sequel will set Princess Moana on a new journey that has her reunite with Maui (Johnson). I enjoyed the original Moana, and I’m fine with the film getting a sequel. It looks like to be a fun, entertaining animated musical comedy romp much like the original. It will open in theaters on November 27.

That wraps things up for our CinemaCon 2024. Thank you to CinemaCon for once again having us at this year’s convention.