Upstart STX delivered its first-ever CinemaCon presentation in a prime-time spot, immediately following the event’s annual state-of-the-industry address. Despite being less than two years young, STX presented a slate that left many continuing to be impressed by the company’s low-budget/high-margin direction.
Among a handful of standout films on STX’s upcoming slate, this July’s Bad Moms showed noteworthy breakout potential. With an ensemble cast starring Mila Kunis, Christina Applegate, Jada Pinkett Smith, Kathryn Hahn, Kristen Bell, and Bridesmaids writer Annie Mumolo, the raunchy R-rated comedy is one of the few titles this summer aimed squarely at women. Its trailer played very strongly to the convention crowd. Definitely a title to watch out for.
A Tale of Two Nations
STX also screened one scene and full trailer for The Free State of Jones, a Civil War drama starring Matthew McConaughey. Its mid-summer release is a strategic way to give adult audiences something of interest amid a season of big popcorn films, and from what we saw, the picture has definite potential to connect.
Teen Comedy Throwback
Another highlight of their schedule was The Edge of Seventeen, a coming-of-age dramedy starring Hailee Steinfeld. The tone of the film’s trailer is reminiscent of classic John Hughes films, with a modern appeal that could turn it into a success among teen and young-adult crowds. Woody Harrelson also stars—his trailer scenes delivered big laughs from attendees.
The studio gave first looks at Desierto, from father-son duo Jonás and Alfonso Cuarón, and The Foreigner. The former of those two titles is a survivalist thriller starring Gael García Bernal and Jeffrey Dean Morgan, while the latter is a 2017 action-drama release starring Jackie Chan. Both are on our radar, particularly the latter, which could appeal strongly to fans of the Taken franchise.
Lionsgate’s presentation was relatively short this year, but it did feature intriguing trailer debuts. The first was Nerve, a thriller starring Emma Roberts and Dave Franco that should appeal to teen and young-adult audiences that drove films such as Unfriended and The Purge.
Coming off the success of Whiplash, the trailer for Damien Chazelle’s next film—La La Land—also sparked interest. Starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, the musically layered film with a Los Angeles setting could become an awards contender later this year.
An unlikely studio to appear at CinemaCon, Amazon made a point to get in front of exhibitors and prove why it belongs in the conversation with a highlight reel of several very promising films. The biggest standout was Manchester by the Sea, a drama starring Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams in a classic relationship-driven story in the vein of Kramer v Kramer. One scene highlighted the emotional complexity of their characters—and excellent chemistry between the two actors—almost immediately sparking talk of awards-season potential.
Amazon Studios also highlighted writer-director Nicholas Winding Refn’s next film, The Neon Demon. Commercial potential may be limited, but there’s no doubt the film looks like another bold creative venture for the auteur filmmaker whose Drive became an under-the-radar box office success and cult hit back in 2011. Other standouts on their slate included Elvis & Nixon and the Jane Austen adaptation Love & Friendship.