CinemaCon Video Blog: Reaction to DreamWorks Footage from FRIGHT NIGHT, WAR HORSE, THE HELP and REAL STEEL

     March 29, 2011

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Earlier this morning in the Coliseum at CinemaCon, DreamWorks Co-Chairman and CEO Stacey Snider took the stage and introduced the filmmakers and some of the cast from their 2011 slate of films and they also showed footage (or behind the scenes footage) from four films.  In attendance for The Help was Emma Stone, Bryce Dallas Howard, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Chris Columbus and director Tate Taylor, for Real Steel they had director Shawn Levy and Hugh Jackman, for Fright Night they had Colin Farrell and director Craig Gillespie, and for War Horse they had a video introduction from director Steven Spielberg.

Shortly after the presentation ended, I recorded a video blog with Peter from /Film to talk about our reaction to the footage and to recap the event.  I’ve also written my thoughts in case you don’t have time to watch the video.  Hit the jump for more:

the_help_set_photo_image_tate_taylor_brunson_grenn_emma_stone_01THE HELP

Based on the #1 New York Times best-selling novel, The Help looks like a winner.  While I didn’t know much about the story going into today’s presentation, the footage really sold me with the performances and I think DreamWorks and director Tate Taylor have a big hit on their hands.  From the synopsis, “The Help is a provocative and inspiring look at what happens when a southern town’s unspoken code of rules and behavior is shattered by three courageous women who strike up an unlikely friendship.”

WAR HORSE

Anything directed by Steven Spielberg is on everyone’s must see list. That’s a given.  However, War Horse has definitely shown itself to be a real contender for end of the year Awards with the way the story ties many people together before and during World War I.  Here’s the synopsis:

Set against a sweeping canvas of rural England and Europe during the First World War, “War Horse” begins with the remarkable friendship between a horse named Joey and a young man called Albert, who tames and trains him. When they are forcefully parted, the film follows the extraordinary journey of the horse as he moves through the war, changing and inspiring the lives of all those he meets—British cavalry, German soldiers, and a French farmer and his granddaughter—before the story reaches its emotional climax in the heart of No Man’s Land.  The film stars Jeremy Irvine, Peter Mullan, Emily Watson, David Thewlis, Stephen Graham, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Tom Hiddleston.

While the footage shown was all behind the scenes stuff, what really got me was the way I got emotionally invested in just the brief scenes of the horse and Albert.  If this thing cuts together, I’m pretty sure this is one of the ten Best Pictures of 2011.

REAL STEEL

I’ve written about this film a lot so you know how excited I am for this release.  Today’s presentation did nothing to take away from my feelings that this will be the surprise of the fall.  Every bit of new footage shows me that Shawn Levy is going to transition from being a fanboy punching bag to being someone that they’re happy with directing a property they love.

While I already saw most of the footage they showed earlier today, Levy did reveal the character of Atom and how he looks and trains with Jackman.  I’m very impressed with the new footage and think the way Levy balances the practical robots with CGI is going to be copied by many other directors.

FRIGHT NIGHT

While Fright Night gets released this August, until today, DreamWorks had kept all the footage under wraps.  Thankfully, instead of some behind the scenes footage or random shots, director Craig Gillespie showed us an eight minute sequence from the middle of the film that proved this is not a friendly vampire movie.

My biggest complaint about recent vampire movies and TV shows is that almost every vampire we meet is a friendly or misunderstood creature.  We rarely see what a vampire truly is: a cold blooded killer.  However, in Fright Night, Colin Farrell plays Jerry like the shark in Jaws, and I can’t wait to see audiences jump in terror.

While I describe the footage in detail in the video blog, the best part featured an awesome car chase that is mostly one shot.  Obviously it’s made up of many shorter takes that have been seamlessly edited together.  I think the average moviegoer is never going to notice how the shot keeps going, except by not cutting, the tension keeps getting raised.  When the sequence was over, the audience at CinemaCon gave the footage real applause.  Again, Fright Night looks to be another winner for DreamWorks.

Anyway, enough of my words, here’s my video blog with Peter.  Look for another video blog on what Disney shows us late tonight.

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