Axel-In-Charge: "Secret Wars" Jam Session Talking "A-Force," "Ultimate End" and More
Universal Pictures Chairman Adam Fogelson began his presentation Tuesday at CinemaCon in Las Vegas by looking back on some of his studio’s biggest hits of 2012, confirming sequel plans for Snow White and the Huntsman — “We’re working on getting the next chapter of this franchise on its feet for 2015″ — The Bourne Legacy — “We’re actively working on the next installment of the Bourne franchise with all of that series’ integrity intact” — and Pitch Perfect (also set for 2015, with Kay Cannon signed to write the script).
He then quickly named some upcoming releases for later this year, including The Purge, Riddick, Rush, About Time, The Best Man Holiday, 47 Ronin and Ride Along, before moving ahead to showcase five major summer releases.
Fogelson started with R.I.P.D. (opening July 19), director Robert Schwenke’s adaptation of the Dark Horse miniseries. The supernatural comedy stars Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges as undead law-enforcement agents who track down rogue souls loose on Earth. Fogelson touted the movie as a lighthearted alternative to some of the darker summer action fare. “We think there is room for a big-scaled action film that is designed to entertain,” he said, promising laughs along with the action.
Although the movie has been converted to 3D, the extended trailer shown was in 2D, with Bridges playing a character reminiscent of his turn as Rooster Cogburn in True Grit, only with a more comedic tone. Reynolds acted as the straight man, and the mix of action, extensive special effects, monstrous threats and a younger/older mismatched-partners team made the movie look like a supernatural version of Men in Black.
The next movie was another comic-book property, 2 Guns (Aug. 2), based on the BOOM Studios! Crime series by Steven Grant and Mataes Santolouco. The extended trailer demonstrated another mix of action and comedy, with stars Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg making for a contentious buddy-cop team, and Bill Paxton exuding creepy menace as the villain.
Fogelson followed with one more comic-book franchise, Kick-Ass 2 (Aug. 16), based on the Marvel/Icon series by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr. He noted that while the first film performed modestly at the box office, it had “a great after-market life,” and the studio jumped at the chance to take over distribution of the sequel from Lionsgate. “We had an instinct that there is great strength in this property,” he said.
The extended trailer showcased Jim Carrey as Colonel Stars and Stripes, costumed heroes being outlawed by the government, Christopher Mintz-Plasse’s Red Mist transforming into the Motherfucker, and Chloe Grace Moretz’s Hit-Girl engaged in an intense fight on top of a moving van.
Next was Despicable Me 2 (July 3), the sequel to the 2010 animated hit. Fogelson called out Chris Meledandri, head of Despicable Me production company Illumination Entertainment, who was in the audience, and said that, “Chris and his creative team have done something pretty miraculous with the sequel.” He also mentioned the spinoff starring the series’ little yellow creatures known as minions, arriving in December 2014. The sequel features the return of Steve Carell as the voice of Gru, along with Kristen Wiig as his new partner/love interest, and Al Pacino as new villain El Macho. “It is not just a kids’ movie; it’s an everyone movie,” Fogelson said.
He promised a surprise that no one had ever seen before would be revealed at the end of the nearly 20 minutes of movie footage, which featured scenes of Gru throwing a birthday party for his adopted daughters, Gru being recruited by the Anti-Villain League to take down El Macho, and Pacino resurrecting his Scarface voice as the Mexican wrestler El Macho. And then there was the promised surprise, which involved the minions mutating into new forms.
The biggest part of the presentation was reserved for Fast & Furious 6 (May 24). Fogelson said that following the success of Fast Five, the franchise “has earned the right to move back into summer.” He introduced an extended trailer, with scenes including Michelle Rodriguez’s resurrected character Letty shooting Dom (Vin Diesel) in the shoulder, the car-racing crew taking down a jet, and a rival crew deemed evil versions of the main characters.
Fogelson then brought out producer Neal H. Moritz, along with cast members Gina Carano, Sung Kang, Tyrese Gibson, Jordana Brewster, Michelle Rodriguez, Paul Walker and Vin Diesel. Carano described a fight scene between her and Rodriguez as one of the movie’s highlights. “She was holding back a lot,” Rodriguez said.
Gibson was introduced as the comic relief of the series. “As much as I would love to say that a lot of the jokes are pre-written, they’re not,” he said. “Vin shows up with his pecs out, and there’s something funny going on with the cleavage.”
Fogelson introduced Rodriguez by saying, “There’s not a person who works at Universal who hasn’t been flooded with emails and phone calls over the years insisting that Letty come back.”
“I’m really grateful that it’s happened and that there’s that much love out there,” Rodriguez said.
Diesel, who is a producer as well as the star, took the microphone last, touting the multicultural cast and the way that the storytelling is planned in advance. “We really think about where the story is going two and three pictures down the road,” he said.
Fogelson then playfully asked whether Diesel knew anything about the next movie, and after a bit more bragging about the series’ social-media presence and connection with its fans, Diesel revealed Fast & Furious 7 will arrive on July 11, 2014. Fogelson closed the presentation with new exclusive footage from Fast & Furious 6, an intense action sequence from the middle of the movie featuring the main characters in their cars taking on the main villain in a tank, all while traversing a crowded highway.