CinemaCon 2021: Sony Showcases Spider-Man, Ghostbusters, and Commitment to Theatrical Exclusivity

Photo by Daniel Loria

In today’s episode of The Boxoffice Podcast’s Daily CinemaCon Edition, co-hosts Daniel Loria and Rebecca Pahle go over a busy first day at CinemaCon 2021 that included an executive roundtable with industry leaders and the event’s first studio presentation.

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On the B2B side of things, Deadline’s Nancy Tartaglione moderated a panel with Mooky Greidinger, CEO, Cineworld Group; Veronika Kwan Vandenberg, President, Distribution, Universal Pictures International; Alejandro Ramírez Magaña, CEO, Cinépolis; and Mark Viane, President, International Theatrical Distribution, Paramount Pictures. The panel, focusing on the global market’s ongoing recovery efforts from the disruption of the Covid-19 pandemic, will be available in its entirety on the Thursday episode of our podcast and will be featured on our upcoming webinar, Boxoffice LIVE Sessions – Special CinemaCon 2021 Edition, which will be held on August 26 at 7am Pacific/10am Eastern time.

Despite a smaller presence of B2C press outlets, CinemaCon’s opening night studio presentation from Sony provided plenty of advance buzz and excitement for films scheduled to hit theaters later in 2021 and 2022. Cineworld’s Greidinger was a fitting choice to introduce the studio’s presentation, his Cineworld circuit being among the most vocal major players in preserving an exclusive theatrical window. That sentiment was echoed by Sony executives Josh Greenstein and Tom Rothman, who addressed exhibition’s concerns directly in their remarks. Studio president Greenstein called day-and-date releases “devastating” for the industry. Chairman and CEO Rothman didn’t mince words, opening his statements by sharing that he was happy for 20th Century Studios’ Free Guy box office success, “that film has done great business because, number one, it’s terrific; and number two, you actually can’t watch it at home on television! Go fucking figure!” Rothman later referenced Bill Clinton’s famous political quip, adjusting it for the current context of theatrical distribution, by exclaiming, “It’s the window, stupid!”

The studio showed footage of several titles in its upcoming slate, all of them touted as coming exclusively to theaters, with stand-outs including the Brad Pitt action vehicle Bullet Train, and of course, the debut of the first trailer for Spider-Man No Way Home.

The new Spider-Man title was billed alongside Venom: Let There Be Carnage and Morbius footage as the studio’s new Spider-Man Universe, suggesting Sony will begin transitioning its most valuable franchise away from Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Sony closed the show with a surprise appearance from father-son filmmakers Ivan and Jason Reitman, who became the first filmmakers to appear in person at this year’s event. The duo spoke passionately about their love for cinemas and strong belief on theatrical releases before introducing the first public screening of their upcoming film, Ghostbusters: Afterlife.

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