Universal opened day three of CinemaCon on Wednesday with a stunning first look at lunar landing drama First Man, some superheroes that wouldn’t get anywhere near a Marvel set and a whole lot of irritable dinosaurs.
The studio kicked off with an extended look at Oscar-winning La La Land director Damien Chazelle’s account of NASA’s 1960s moon mission, focusing initially on Neil Armstrong’s teenage years.
The astronaut, played by Ryan Gosling, is seen watching a rocket launch, holding his baby daughter and singing, “I see the moon, and the moon sees me.”
The action ramped up as convention attendees were shown Armstrong in training, Apollo 11 blasting off and capsules bursting into flames as they plummet toward Earth.
Armstrong’s first wife Janet (Claire Foy) yells at NASA scientists, “You don’t have anything under control,” and we see the astronaut having a difficult conversation with his son about the dangers involved.
The trailer closed with the space pioneer taking “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” onto the lunar surface.
The movie is due out in October, the heart of Hollywood’s awards season and a lucrative window for previous space adventures such as Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity (2013) and Ridley Scott’s The Martian (2015), which grossed a combined $1.4 billion worldwide.
Gosling and Chazelle – who worked together on 2016’s La La Land – introduced the clip with Foy and spoke about the “true honor” of giving the Armstrongs their due.
Gosling said the Apollo 11 mission was the “most astonishing journey in history” while Foy described First Man as the story of “unsung heroes who gave their support to this almost impossible voyage.”
Hollywood’s biggest studios decamp to Las Vegas for four days every spring, providing news and footage from their upcoming movies to the theater operators who will show them.
Universal has a deserved reputation for razzmatazz in Sin City, screening the entire The Fate of the Furious in a surprise which delighted attendees at last year’s show.
Journalists had been speculating that the trick would be repeated this year with dinosaur movie Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom – but had to be content with stars Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard showing off the first five minutes and a new trailer.
The footage showed the usual high-octane action audiences have come to expect from the lucrative franchise – 2015’s Jurassic World grossed $1.7 billion – with T-Rex chases and oversized marine predators making a splash.
“The last time I was here I introduced you to Jurassic World and that movie went on to become the fourth biggest movie in history,” said Pratt.
“So let’s do that again, please? Is that a deal?”
“After Avengers comes out,” joked Howard.
Universal offered a crowd-pleasing line-up of buzz-generating previews including for M. Night Shyamalan’s horror thriller Glass, the final film in a long-gestating trilogy that started with cult favorite Unbreakable (2000).
Glass – due out in January next year – stars Samuel L. Jackson, Bruce Willis, James McAvoy and Sarah Paulson, all of whom appeared onstage at Caesar’s Palace, in what Shyamalan called the “first truly grounded comic book movie.”
A trailer featured Paulson as a psychologist working with patients who believe that they are superheroes and David Dunn, Willis’s character from Unbreakable, trying to stop a looming disaster.
McAvoy reprises his role from Shyamalan’s Split (2017) as Kevin Wendell Crumb, a man with more than 20 completely independent personalities, including the deadly Beast.
Jamie Lee Curtis, star of Halloween (1978), cranked up the scares with a trailer for a modern take on the iconic horror film and told CinemaCon she didn’t have to think twice before agreeing to reprise her role.
“Except for Star Wars, I can’t think of another movie where the same actor is playing the same character 40 years later,” she laughed.
“That in itself is worth celebrating.”
The trailer showed masked serial killer Mike Myers’ mental asylum and Curtis’s Laurie Strode, struggling decades later to move on from the trauma of events in the original film.
“Every night I prayed that he would escape… so I could kill him,” she explains.