CinemaCon 2014: Paramount Previews ‘Hercules,’ ‘Ninja Turtles’ & ‘Transformers’
Paramount Pictures’ presentation at the 2014 CinemaCon in Las Vegas focused on three of the studio’s upcoming summer movies: Hercules, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Transformers: Age of Extinction. Paramount Vice Chairman Rob Moore took the stage following CinemaCon opening remarks (with CinemaCon Managing Director Mitch Neuhauser dressed as Paramount’s Ron Burgundy), and he noted that he was just making a stopover between Vatican City and New York City, which led into a plug for the studio’s Noah, which opens later in the week.
A quick highlight reel featured short glimpses of Noah, Hot Tub Time Machine 2, Interstellar, SpongeBob SquarePants 2, Jason Reitman’s Men, Women & Children and The Gambler, among others, along with the Michael Bay-produced Project Almanac, which has been given a new title (it was previously Almanac and Welcome to Yesterday) and a new release date of January 2015.
Moore then introduced Hercules star Dwayne Johnson, who took the stage to the sounds of AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck,” strolling through the crowd. Although he did refer to the event as “Comic-Con,” his enthusiasm was apparent, and he talked about the strategy of promoting Hercules by being mysterious. “We wanted to make a massive, global, entertaining movie without ever revealing the actual look of the character,” he said. He joked that his transformation to play the mythological figure included wearing a prosthetic penis before discussin his social media efforts to share plenty of behind-the-scenes footage from the shoot without ever revealing his face. “As an actor, never showing my face was a great sacrifice for me.”
With that, Johnson stepped aside for the premiere of the Hercules trailer, which featured Johnson’s character fighting plenty of nasty-looking monsters as ominous narration explained the character’s dual nature. “I am Hercules!” he proclaims at the end of the trailer, which revealed Johnson’s bearded face, under a lion’s-head mask.
Next up was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, with Moore introducing co-star Will Arnett. Arnett took the stage riding a Segway, accompanied by his Arrested Development co-star David Cross, also on a Segway, for no apparent reason other than to distract Arnett and the audience (Cross isn’t in the movie). Arnett joked about capitalizing on the goodwill for Arrested Development, and Cross rode circles around the stage as Arnett, who plays cameraman Vernon Fenwick, set up the trailer. “I thought this movie was about Megan Fox falling in love with me as I talk to a tennis ball on a string,” he said after reading the approved promotional copy. “Paramount has assured me that even though I’m barely in the trailer, I’m actually in the movie,” he said, leading into the trailer premiere.
With narration from William Fichtner as the villainous Shredder, the trailer features plenty of Michael Bay-style urban destruction (Bay is a producer), starting with only shadowy glimpses of the new versions of the Ninja Turtles. The characters themselves showed up at the very end, breaking through the grim voiceover with a bit of their trademark humor as they meet Fox’s April O’Neil, who promptly faints at the sight of them.
Finally, Moore introduced the main attraction, Bay’s Transformers: Age of Extinction. He noted that Bay had been reluctant to return for a fourth Transformers movie, but “they found an idea that captured his imagination.” With the director still busy finalizing effects for the movie, it was up to star Mark Wahlberg to build up excitement for the footage about to premiere. “I thought I was here for the grand opening of Wahlburgers Las Vegas,” he joked before getting down to the business of hyping up the movie. “It is probably the most iconic franchise in movie history,” Wahlberg said of Transformers, and why he jumped at the opportunity to star in the series’ fourth film, after working with Bay on Pain & Gain.
Wahlberg promised that the new movie, which boasts an entirely new cast of characters, would tell a stand-alone story. “It’s bigger and better than the other three combined,” he said. Before getting to the preview, Wahlberg brought out his young co-stars, Jack Reynor and Nicola Peltz, whom he promised would be massive stars soon (they’ll be receiving CinemaCon’s Rising Stars of 2014 award on Thursday). Reynor and Peltz brought out Wahlberg’s daughter Ella, who seemed a little overwhelmed. The quartet introduced the compilation of about 20 minutes of footage from Age of Extinction, which Wahlberg promises will be “the biggest movie of 2014.”
The footage featured many of the familiar elements from existing trailers, including a brief glimpse of the Dinobots and Wahlberg’s character bringing home a beat-up old truck that just happens to turn into Optimus Prime. The footage included a lot more of the family drama among Wahlberg’s Cade Yeager and his daughter Tessa (Peltz), as well as plenty of action. Bay’s trademarks were present both in the copious explosions and in the gratuitous shot from between Peltz’s legs as she’s wearing barely-there shorts. Some of the highlights included Transformers flying through a cityscape; Titus Welliver as a sinister man in black-style government agent going after Cade and his family; Optimus Prime facing off against a Transformer controlled remotely by government operatives; a giant spaceship descending to kidnap Tessa; and Wahlberg sneering at Welliver, “You should’ve never kidnapped my family.” The crowd cheered at the final moments, and Moore closed out the presentation as soon as the preview ended.