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What to look forward to at the cinema

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What happens at CinemaCon stays at CinemaCon says CONSTANTINOS PSILLIDES

The American National Association Theatre Owners wrapped up a three-day event on Friday, where major production studios gave presentations about their plans, showcasing upcoming features and trailers. CinemaCon is always a source of major news, providing a glimpse of what is soon to come to a theatre near you.

Here’s a list of major announcements and takeaways from the event. I should note that anything shown at CinemaCon is not for the public so there are no videos of anything shown there. Well, not official ones anyway.


You will be entertained: Gladiator II enters the arena

Riddley Scott unveiled a trailer for the much anticipated and much-hyped sequel to his smash success, Gladiator. Gladiator II is said to be gory, visceral and a worthy successor to the Russel Crowe vehicle. Crowe of course could not return for a sequel as he dies by the end of the film. Taking up the gladiator mantle (or sword, whatever serves as a murder instrument) is Paul Mescal playing a young noble who decides to walk away from his family fortune to join the ranks of the gladiators.

Denzel Washington plays a veteran gladiator released after earning his freedom. Denzel’s character wasn’t satisfied with just that and got into supplying the Roman army and acting as an arms dealer. He thus amassed a huge fortune, and he is currently richer than many of the senators. Having gained fame and money, Washington goes for the trifecta: power. He decides to make a move for the throne and plunge Rome into chaos. “Rome will fall. I only need to give it a push,” his character says in the trailer shown at ComicCon. Gladiator II releases in late November, on the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.


Deadpool is a used car salesman

The Deadpool and Wolverine trailer might be out but Marvel boss Kevin Feige decided to give audiences a sneak peek into the upcoming feature, one that is expected to correct what went wrong with Phase 5 and set up a clean slate to prepare the ground for the next phase of the MCU, featuring the Fantastic Four.

Wade (Deadpool’s real name) works as a used-car salesman with former X-Force team member Peter, the loveable, moustachioed, non-superhero from the previous movie. Wade has left his Deadpooling days behind and is trying to live a normal life although Peter has his costume locked away, hoping that one day both of them will return to being superheroes.

Wade attends a birthday party in his apartment with every major character from the previous movies returning to wish him well. When he blows out the birthday candles TVA Agents (the time-keepers and guardians of the Sacred Timeline from the Loki show) appear out of nowhere to kidnap him and take him to meet Mr Paradox, a high-ranking TVA operative. Mr Paradox explains to Deadpool that the timelines are all screwed up and that they need someone to put everything back together. The sneak peek received a positive reaction from attendees, strengthening expectations both at the box office and for the future of the MCU.


An even nicer beaver: Naked Gun, Scary Movie remakes in the works

Liam Neeson has a particular set of skills and he will have to use all of them if he wants to succeed as Lt Frank Drebin in the reboot of Naked Gun. The movie made the late Leslie Nielsen’s career as a comedic actor and it was a huge success at the time. Neeson has some big shoes to fill as this is a fan favourite movie and a lot of people didn’t respond well to news about the remake. Can slapstick and absurd humour make a comeback? We shall see.

Another thing we will be seeing? Ghostface masks. Everyone’s most hated mask for Halloween is coming back from the dead as studios announced a remake of Scary Movie in the hope it will spark interest for a new trilogy. ‘Original Idea’ is apparently not something discussed in studio exec boardrooms.

Both films were announced at CinemaCon by studio heads and they are expected to debut in 2025 and 2026.


Optimus sub-Prime: Transformers One is coming

Speaking about a complete and utter lack of originality, a preview for the animated movie Transformers One was shown at CinemaCon, expected to be released in 2024. The production team behind the many Transformers decided that the franchise needed freshening up so they are sending the toy robots back to their roots. Starring Chris Hemsworth as Optimus Prime, Transformers One will take place on the Transformers’ home planet Cybertron. It will explore the relationship between Prime and Megatron, who went from good friends to mortal enemies and how their rivalry tore the world apart.


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