CinemaCon 2017 Studio Presentations: UNIVERSAL

Strong female characters were a common theme in Universal’s presentation, which featured a diverse array of titles across multiple genres starring or co-headed by women. The studio welcomed the ensemble cast of the upcoming raunchy comedy Girls Trip, who introduced a series of clips that recalled much of the same spirit that made Bridesmaids a runaway hit in 2011.

Universal screened a quick retrospective of its legacy connection with classic monster movies before introducing Sofia Boutella, playing the titular character in this summer’s The Mummy. Boutella related that she had initial concerns about the role, including the long hours it would require to get in and out of make-up, before finally being sold by the studio’s insistence on the character’s depth and strength. The early look at The Mummy lacked any semblance of camp elements as franchise relaunches with the star power of Tom Cruise behind it. If the CinemaCon footage served as any indication, Universal’s new take on The Mummy will have much more in common with the stunt-laden direction of Tom Cruise’s Mission: Impossible franchise.

Coming off a highly-touted sneak screening at the South by Southwest Film Festival, Universal gave Atomic Blonde a dedicated slot in its presentation despite the film being released under the company’s Focus Features imprint. It was a sign of the studio’s confidence in the film; Focus was already scheduled to present later that day and Atomic Blonde was the only titled included in both presentations. Star Charlize Theron took the stage to support her latest project, which she first discovered as a treatment without a finished screenplay, dedicating her time through pre-production to bring it to the screen. “I’ve definitely been interested in the genre and exploring it as a woman,” shared Theron about this new stage in her career, where she’s become an action heroine after her iconic role in Mad Max: Fury Road and presence in the latest Fast & Furious entry.

It was an ideal transition for the studio to bring Vin Diesel on stage moments later, who offered a heartfelt anecdote over his feelings about The Fate of the Furious. Diesel recalled late co-star Paul Walker’s insistence that there would be an eighth installment to the blockbuster franchise, a factor that motivated Diesel in making the film despite initial reservations. “It was a hard decision to make, but part of Paul’s legacy lives on through every frame that we shoot,” he shared. “It was Paul Walker who promised eight, that played over and over in my brain.” Diesel reminded the audience of his promise last time he appeared on stage at CinemaCon, that the eighth movie in the series would be the best in the series. He doubled down on the statement this time around, going as far as calling The Fate of the Furious the beginning of the next trilogy in the franchise before revealing a big surprise for the attendees. Rather than screening footage of the latest Fast and Furious movie, Universal would use the remaining time in its presentation to screen the film for the first time to the public.