Cruise control: ‘M:I6’ star shines as Paramount, Universal wow CinemaCon

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AFP

Las Vegas (AFP) – Tom Cruise regaled CinemaCon Wednesday with a demonstration of his renowned stuntman skills, as Paramount and Universal built buzz for their upcoming slates of blockbusters.

Appearing in Las Vegas to introduce “Mission: Impossible – Fallout,” the upcoming sixth movie in Paramount’s long-running spy franchise, Cruise took up the last half-hour to explain the movie’s marquee death-defying stunt. 

The scene — replayed from several angles for the CinemaCon crowd in Las Vegas — involved a 220 mile-an-hour (340 kph) “halo” (“high altitude, low open”) skydive during which he grabs Henry Cavill’s character in mid-air. 

Cruise, a 55-year-old veteran of more than 50 movies who broke his ankle during another of the film’s stunts, simulates going into a spin when he is hit by lightning almost immediately after leaping out of his plane at around 30,000 feet (9,000 meters).

“This movie, it is without a doubt the most epic ‘Mission’ that we’ve made and it’s a film that is adventurous, it’s emotional, and it’s really cutting-edge,” Cruise told AFP backstage at Caesar’s Palace.  

Long admired for performing his own increasingly ambitious stunts, Cruise said it took 106 jumps to get the three takes required, filmed partly by a cameraman falling backward out of the plane.

Elsewhere, J.J. Abrams, a director and producer on the franchise, appeared in a video to promote Paramount-distributed horror movie “Overlord,” and announce a sequel to 2008 found-footage thriller “Cloverfield.”

Paramount CEO Jim Gianopulos sparked a murmur of excitement with the announcement that hit horror movie “A Quiet Place” was getting a follow-up.

He also ended mounting speculation over the studio’s lucrative “Star Trek” franchise by confirming two new movies, although he offered no production or release details.

– Pizzazz –

“A Quiet Place,” which has amassed more than $200 million at the global box office, is Paramount’s biggest hit since 2016’s “Star Trek Beyond.”

It has been a ray of light in a dark year or more for Paramount, which has struggled to make the box office impact of its “big six” rival studios after a string of flops.

In a presentation heavy on pizzazz but light on original material, Gianopulos also announced a new “Terminator” movie with Linda Hamilton returning from the 1984 original.

“Top Gun: Maverick” is also full steam ahead, he said, with Cruise reprising his starring role as Lt. Pete Mitchell from the 1986 film and shooting beginning in summer.

Paramount’s rival Universal opened day three of CinemaCon with an extended look at Oscar-winning director Damien Chazelle’s “First Man,” with Ryan Gosling as pioneering astronaut Neil Armstrong.

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 — who worked with Chazelle on 2016’s “La La Land” — introduced the clip with co-star Claire Foy and the pair spoke about the “true honor” of giving the Armstrong family 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.

– Cranking up the scares –

Journalists had been speculating that Universal might treat them to a surprise early screening of dinosaur movie “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.” 

In the end they 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?”

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).

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 says.

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