'Magic Mike XXL' and a potential Johnny Depp comeback top WB's CinemaCon sneaks

Posted by · 11:50 pm · April 21st, 2015

LAS VEGAS – Warner Bros. is still the grand old lady of Hollywood and the studio brought out a slew of stars for its annual CinemaCon presentation.  They also, unlike some of their sister studios, pretty much went through their entire slate for 2015 and dipped a toe into 2016.  What really got us percolating, however, were the first signs of a Johnny Depp comeback.

Depp, who hasn't had a real hit since 2011's “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” wasn't physically in The Colosseum at Caesars Palace, but his appearance in an extended preview for Scott Cooper's “Black Mass” was revelatory.  “Mass” is a biopic about the notorious Boston mafia boss Whitey Bulger who spent 16 years on the run from the FBI.  The footage begins with Depp as Bulger at what appears to be a card game or dinner.  He begins to joke around with John Morris (David Harbour). Within minutes, he's flipped the tables and has provoked the fear of God in Morris.  In this scene especially, Depp is almost unrecognizable.  In fact, it's hard to remember a performance from Depp where you didn't catch a hint of his mannerisms or quirks.  We don't mean to over hype it, but it was simply that impressive.  Of course, the movie may not necessarily lives up to Depp's work (we're still concerned about that semi-early Sept. 18 release date), but we're definitely adding him to the list of early contenders for best actor.

The only other real news, at least for prestige movie fans, was something that probably went under most attendees” radar.  For some reason Jeff Nichols' “Midnight Special” wasn't even mentioned during the presentation.  Slightly odd since a film opening on the same day (“Creed”) and three movies opening after it were all previewed.

As for the laundry list of other films Warner's wanted the nation's theater owners to get excited about…

“Hot Pursuit”
Release date: May 8
Who was there: Reese Witherspoon, Sofia Vergara
Footage: Listen, this falls into the category of a Cameron Diaz summer comedy. Either you're going to fall for the leading ladies chemistry and chuckle a few times or you won't.  Hey, at least it looks better than “Tammy,” right?
Verdict: LIKED

“Mad Max: Fury Road”
Release date: May 15
Who was there: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult
Footage: Newsflash: Tom Hardy barely spoke on stage! We know, that's not so shocking, but at least he showed up.  As for “Mad Max,” not much can diminish the anticipation at this point.
Verdict: LIKED

“San Andreas”
Release date: May 29
Who was there: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Carla Gugino
Footage: The studio provided an extended preview which showcased the intense CG director Brad Peyton has used to depict a 9.0 earthquake hitting the entire state of California.  It seems less cheesy than a Roland Emmerich film and there was one crazy shot of Gugino running up the stairs of an office building to the roof where she turns to witness numerous downtown LA buildings collapsing before her eyes. No matter what the story we're pretty sure it's going to be an impressive spectacle in 3D.
Verdict: LIKED

Release date: June 3
Who was there: Kevin Dillon, Kevin Connolly, Adrian Grenier, Jerry Ferrara
Footage: If you want to see Ari (Jeremy Piven) get really angry at everyone, Ronda Rousey beat up Turtle (Ferrara) and a movie whose whole main plot seems to be that Vince (Grenier) needs a hit, well, this one's for you.
Verdict: NOT FOR ME

“Magic Mike XXL”
Release date: July 1
Who was there: Channing Tatum, Matt Boomer, Adam Rodriguez, Kevin Nash, Joe Manganiello
Footage: This new extended preview starts off telling the audience how much they don't want to show you the best scenes from the movie while cutting back to hilarious moments where Tatum and Manganiello's characters can't help pulling out a sexy dance move in real life. The rest of the footage highlights the fact the boys are heading to a competition in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and Jada Pinkett Smith is trying to either whip them into shape, keep them focused or some combination of the two.  Oh, and did we mention the hashtag #ComeAgain?
Verdict: LIKED

“The Gallows”
Release date: July 10
Who was there: No one
Footage: The same teaser trailer that's already online.  It's effective!
Verdict: LIKED

“We Are Your Friends”
Release Date: TBD
Who was there: No one
Footage: Basically, the plot centers on Cole Carter (Zac Efron), a Los Angeleno trying to make it big as an EDM DJ. Director Max Joseph's passion for electronic music is evident, but we're not sure the story is as fresh as the world its set in.

“The Man from U.N.C.L.E.”
Release date: Aug. 14
Who was there: Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer
Footage: Guy Ritchie's latest reboot seems stylish and action packed, but the more we hear Hammer speak in his character's Russian accent the more we shudder.
Verdict: WORRIED

“Black Mass”
Release date: Sept. 18
Who was there: Director Scott Cooper
Footage:  As noted earlier, the first footage of Cooper's anticipated biopic on notorious criminal mastermind Whitey Bulger did not disappoint.
Verdict: LIKED

“The Intern”
Release date: Sept. 25
Who was there: No one
Footage: Nancy Meyers latest finds Anne Hathaway as a thirtysomething CEO of a incredibly successful startup.  Her young company starts a senior intern program focused on bringing in actual seniors to give feedback and lend their life experience. Robert De Niro becomes the prime intern and forms a bond with Hathaway's character. Simply, the more the trailer goes on the more it feels like you've seen the entire film.
Verdict: NOT A FAN

Release date: Oct. 9
Who was there: No one.
Footage: New, extended trailer. Focuses on the spectacle of Neverland.  Jackman looks fantastic as Blackbeard, but, even after this new preview, we're slightly worried the prequel aspect of its story just won't work.
Verdict: MIXED

Release date: Nov. 25
Who was there: Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, director Ryan Coogler
Footage: Best part about the new trailer is that it doesn't dwell on Stallone's involvement as Rocky Balboa. As Stallone said to the audience, “This isn't Rocky 7.” Jordan's Adonis Creed is front and center. It's his journey, but he's just looking for some guidance.  Really well cut trailer from WB. Feels like a big hit.
Verdict: LIKED

“In The Heart of The Sea”
Release date: Dec. 11
Who was there: No one.
Footage: Much of this had been seen before, but the studio did screen an extended trailer which showcased more of the whale and its path of destruction.  This one still seems like an awards player, but we'll admit some of the obvious CG has us concerned.
Verdict: LIKED

“Point Break”
Release date: Dec. 25
Who was there: Theresa Palmer, Luke Bracy
Footage: Bracy plays an FYI agent who infiltrates a criminal gang who use their extreme sports skills for their heists.  The film is claiming no special effects and the extended footage screened focused on one scene where Bracy's character and three members of the group he's trying to take down jump as human gliders from the top of a mountain.  It's eye-popping stuff, but, dude, the story and Bracy's performance appear weak.
Verdict: MIXED

“Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice”
Release date: March 25
Who was there: No one
Footage: Sure, it was just the teaser trailer that was leaked and then released online last week, but it still looked pretty on the big screen.  Haters gonna hate, but we're still more intrigued in this one than we thought we'd be.  Maybe we should all trust in Oscar-winner Chris Terrio?
Verdict: LIKED

Which upcoming WB movie are you most intrigued by? Share your thoughts below.

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