By Albert Angulo
CinemaCon kicked off tonight at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas with a presentation from Paramount. In only its 3rd year, what used to be ShoWest is proving to have the magic touch as once again all the major studios plus Lionsgate will be doing dog and pony shows for the nation’s exhibitors before the confab ends on Thursday. Paramount and its Vice Chairman Rob Moore were first and offered the theater owners a slickly produced and very quick reel of upcoming product, along with extended looks at its hoped-for summer blockbusters Star Trek Into Darkness and World War Z, as well as a complete screening of Michael Bay’s Pain & Gain which opens next week.
After the trek presentation, Moore played the World War Z trailer in 3D and confidently predicted this will be one of the biggest films of the summer. And the footage shown certainly had the crowd on the edge of their seats. Then a voiceover announcer introduced Pitt for real this time. (An earlier voiceover had announced Pitt’s entrance and the crowd packing the enormous Coliseum Theatre got momentarily excited – only to learn it was an attempt at humor by CinemaCon’s Managing Director Mitch Neuhauser.) Pitt personally introduced an extended look at his film which infamously underwent expensive delays and extensive reshoots but is now finally being released June 21. Pitt made only a veiled reference to the difficulty of making a Zombie epic.
“Four years ago I knew nothing about Zombies but now I consider myself an expert,” he said. “This whole thing started because I just wanted to do a film my boys could see before they turned 18, one they liked anyway and they loved Zombies. So we settled on Max Brooks’ book called World War Z. We were faced with two Herculean challenges. How do we keep the global spectacular dynamic scope of the book and how do we originate a Zombie film that’s been done quite often and really really well? What you are about to see is our answer to those two questions. We got a little carried away. I think you are going to like this as much as my boys are going to.” With that, the footage showed the opening sequences of an initial Zombie attack, another where Pitt attempts to find a way to keep them out of a walled-in-Jerusalem, and a harrowing scene set on an airliner where Zombies are turned loose on the passengers.