Beyond the Screen #14: Cinemacon, Top Gun: Maverick, Avatar Sequel, Fast X Drama, A Quiet Place and Hunger Games Prequel

Cinemacon, a massive gathering of movie theatre owners conducted annually, was held last week in Las Vegas, leading to a deluge of developments, announcements, reshuffles, reveals, teases and even a few leaks. We break down the most notable events of the convention.

Top Gun: Maverick Raves

Screening to an audience of about 3,000, the long, long awaited and oft delayed sequel to Top Gun was shown in full at Cinemacon ahead of its official world premiere on May 4th. The film, originally slated for release on the 12th of July 2019, was met with an enthusiastic reception, with most reactions noting its stunts and impressive aerial photography, but also how surprisingly emotional the prospective blockbuster manages to become. Top Gun: Maverick will be a theatrical exclusive.

Avatar 2 Title Revealed, Trailer Images Leak

The much hyped and secretive sequel, releasing December 16th following a re-release of the original film, finally received a title, Avatar: The Way of Water, along with a private trailer showing at Cinemacon, featuring Na’vi swimming on Pandora, the return of prominent characters like Jake Sully, and what appears to be a pregnant Na’vi preparing for aquatic battle with her clan. This trailer is set to play ahead of showings of Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, with an online release one week thereafter, though four stills have already leaked online.

A Quiet Place Prequel Announced

The prequel, titled A Quiet Place Day One, will cover the events of the first day the alien monsters of the first two films arrived, a catastrophe we briefly glimpsed during a flashback sequence in A Quiet Place Part 2. John Krasinski will not be returning to the director’s chair, instead Michael Sarnoski, director of Pig, will helm.

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First look at Margot Robbie as Barbie

Greta Gerwig’s take on the iconic Barbie brand, replete with the half of Hollywood not yet cast in Oppenheimer, has been set for a 2023 release, with a first-look photo of star Margot Robbie as the titular doll in her pink convertible to boot. The film will co-star Ryan Gosling as Ken, Kate McKinnon, Alexandra Shipp, America Ferrera, Simu Liu, Hari Nef and Will Ferrell.

Mission Impossible 7 and 8 Titles Revealed

The seventh and eighth Mission: Impossible films will be titled Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning, Part 1 and Part 2, respectively. The announcement, delivered by star Tom Cruise while standing atop a biplane on location in Kwazulu-Natal, came not only with the revelation that the installments are two parts of a whole, but with an early access look at the trailer for M:I 7, featuring what is presumably the film’s key stunt: a motorcycle cliff-dive.

Jon Watts Exits Fantastic Four

A new director will need to be hired to helm the first Fantastic Four film set in the MCU. Jon Watts, director of the three Tom Holland Spider-Man films, stated his departure was in part out of a desire to take a break from superhero films. He and Marvel co-presidents, Kevin Feige and Louis D’Espositoin, issued statements, all parties assuring that they hope to work together again in the future. Watts held that “making three Spider-Man films was an incredible and life-changing experience for me. I’m eternally grateful to have been a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe for seven years… I can’t wait to see the amazing vision for Fantastic Four brought to life.”

Kevin Feige Plans Next Ten Years of Marvel Films

The President of Marvel studios, appearing onstage at Cinemacon in Las Vegas, announced that the next 10 years of the MCU-brand would be mapped out by the Marvel creative team whilst on company retreat. “I’m going back as soon as I get off stage to our first creative retreat in person with the Marvel Studios creative team in three years, and we have a giant board there that takes us through the next decade of MCU movies”.

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Whitney Houston Biopic Gets Poster

The Whitney Houston biopic, I Wanna Dance with Somebody, from a script by Anthony McCarten of Bohemian Rhapsody, received the first material of its promotional run; a poster featuring BAFTA TV Award winner Naomi Ackie in her starring role, embodying Houston in her iconic ‘So Emotional’ music video and single outfit. Several clips of Ackie in action were shown at Cinemacon.

Fast X Director Exits

Justin Lin reportedly left the tenth installment of the mega-grossing Fast and Furious franchise ‘amicably’ over creative differences, with Louis Leterrier being eyed as a replacement. Filming had already begun on Fast X, and as such for each day production spent searching for a replacement, with cast and crew on standby, sources indicated the studio stood to lose $1 million. The film is still set for a 2023 release.

Adam Sandler Reuniting with Safdie Bros.

Sandler gave his most acclaimed performance to date in the Safdie Brothers’ previous film, Uncut Gems, even poking fun at his own lack of an Oscar nomination in the awards season buzz thereafter. Now, Entertainment Weekly quotes Sandler as saying he’ll be starring in the anxiety-producing duos’ next, as of yet untitled film; “I don’t know what I can tell you… It’s different”. No dates have been set for the production, especially with the Safdies tied up in producing, and Benny buoying his acting credentials.

Second Nope Trailer

Director Jordan Peele opened his Cinemacon showing with some remarks stating his preference for novel ideas over franchises, and restating his commitment to the theatrical experience, before playing an advanced look at Nope’s second trailer. Chris Bumbray of JoBlo reported on the secretive preview: “Peele did ask for our discretion, so I can’t give away all I saw. Suffice to say, the “bad thing” comes from the clouds and builds up slowly. The thing that it might be is potentially revealed. The cast is emphasized and it looks like Michael Wincott has a major role. In fact, his face has even been added to the posters. Otherwise, I can say no more…”

Andrew Garfield on Break, Tobey Maguire in Babylon

As Andrew Garfield prepares to take a brief sabbatical from acting (to “just be a bit of a person for a while”), co-Spider-Man Tobey Maguire seems to have gained a second wind. Following Cinemacon, Maguire is confirmed to play Charlie Chaplin in Damian Chazelle’s Babylon. A trailer for the film is said to be “more comedic” than some had anticipated (co-star Brad Pitt gets to deliver a telling line: “When I first moved to Hollywood, the signs on all the doors said, ‘No actors and no dogs allowed.’ We changed that”).