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Ellen Sterling

Ellen Sterling

Posted: March 19, 2010 08:27 PM

ShoWest Day 4: The Party Ends With Day-Long Celebration

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ShoWest 2010 ended its four-day celebration of films, filmmakers and -- the most important people there in the process of making and showing a film -- the theater owners.

The final day featured two films. First up at 10 am was The Back-Up Plan, with Jennifer Lopez and Alex O'Loughlin, a romantic comedy set in New York City. At 4:15 they showed Disney's Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arteton, Ben Kingsley and Alfred Molina. The Back-Up Plan opens April 23; Prince, on Memorial Day weekend.

Between the two films was a luncheon hosted by CBS films -- Back-Up's studio -- where we were introduced to more of their upcoming releases and to several of the stars.

Amy Baer, president of CBS Films, talked about how the corporation had the advantage of cross-promoting films. For example, Lopez guested on the CBS hit sitcom, How I Met Your Mother and the film was promoted during sports events and other CBS programming.

Next up for promotion was Beastly, set for summer release and following in the tradition of the Twilight films -- somewhat scary, off-beat and built with deep appeal to teenage moviegoers. The film stars Vanessa Hudgens and Alex Pettyfer, the Beast. They, along with co-star Neil Patrick Harris, were there to talk about the film.

Third in the CBS Films line-up was Faster starring Dwayne Johnson and Billy Bob Thornton. They were there (photo above) to introduce the trailer for the movie that's slated to be released November 19.

After lunch it was Warner Brothers' turn to crow and rightfully so.

In 2009, the studio had its biggest year ever -- $2.13 billion worldwide gross -- and, in fact, the biggest take of any studio. Warner's president of domestic distribution, Dan Fellman, attributed their success to "a balanced release slate. There was something for everyone -- The Hangover, Harry Potter, Sherlock Holmes.

Alan Horn, Warner's president and COO began by noting that from the 1928 technology that ended the silent era through the 1953 film House of Wax, to the explosion of 3-D in 2010, the studio has always kept pace with and used the newest technology. In 2010 the studio will release each of their tentpole movies, 11 in all, in 3-D. He then previewed several of them.

First up was Clash of the Titans, starring Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes and Sam Worthington. Director Louis Leterrier introduced his film, saying "I was eight when I saw the original Clash of the Titans,," but both he and Horn emphasized that "this is not a remake." The Kraken will be released April 2.

In July we'll see the latest from director Christopher Nolan, who directed the terrific Memento in 2000. This time around it's a sci-fi thriller called Inception, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Ken Watanabe, Ellen Page, Michael Caine, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Cillian Murphy and Tom Berenger. Introducing the trailer, Nolan said, "This is an original script for a grand-scale film designed for the big screen." It was filmed in six countries. "It was," he said, "an immersive experience."

Michael Patrick King came out next to introduce Sex In the City 2 and was jointed by Sarah Jessica Parker, Kirsten Davis and Cynthia Nixon. (The fourth member of their group, Kim Cattrall, is in a play on the West End.) Opening May 27, the film takes the women to new places and does so in 3-D (or, as King explained, "not in double D.") Like some of the other Warner films, it was converted to 3-D after it was shot.

Also screened were Zack Snyder's animated The Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole, based on the children's books. It will be released on September 24. And some of the unfinished footage from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 due out on November 19. The footage was so raw that Ralph Fiennes, playing Lord Voldemort, still has the dots on his face for the stop motion animation to be used in the film. Potter is the most successful movie franchise in history and Warners expects that success to continue. Although, Horn said, after Part 2 next year there will be no more. "I tried to convince Jo [author JK Rowling] to write more but she's moved on."

Due Date, the next movie from The Hangover director Todd Phillips will be released on November 5. Phillips, along with his stars Robert Downey, Jr. and Zach Galifianakis, were there to show the trailer for this story of a man (Downey) trying to get home for the birth of his first child. The Hangover was the highest grossing R rated comedy ever and there are very high hopes for this film.

Katherine Heigl (whose dark hair elicited a surprised response from the audience) and Josh Duhamel came to Las Vegas with director Greg Berlanti to unveil their new rom-com due out December 22, Life As We Know It. Berlanti said, "You'll laugh and cry in equal measure. There are very few films made like this."

The Warner Brothers presentation was greeted very enthusiastically from all those in the room. One exhibitor said, "The product is so good that, even if the economy gets better, people will come to the movies -- not just to escape their daily lives but because the movies are so good."

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The closing dinner was given over to awards. Access Hollywood host Billy Bush emceed the event. In addition to the award presented the previous day to Jaden Smith (Breakthrough Male Star of the Year), awards were given to producer Jerry Bruckheimer (Lifetime Achievement Award), Jay Roach (Comedy Director of the Decade), Vanessa Hudgens (Female Star of Tomorrow), Alex Pettyfer (Male Star of Tomorrow), Amanda Seyfried (Breakthrough Female Star of the Year), Zach Galifianakis (Comedy Star of the Year), Katherine Heigl and Sam Worthington (Female/Male Star of the Year), the cast of Sex and the City 2 (Ensemble) and Todd Phillips (Director of the Year).

The ceremony was punctuated by clips of the winners' work. When she came up to accept her award, Katherine Heigl had a wardrobe malfunction and Billy Bush had to hold the strap of her dress while she spoke (above).

There were, by the way, lots of interesting things to be learned. For example, investors can now buy movie futures (more about that another time), a new day is dawning at the concession stands and, of course, the films we see will be progressively change as new technology is developed. It will be, we're promised by those who know, an ever-improving movie-going experience.

And, for the record, this year marked the end of the traditional ShoWest. Next year, directly run by the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO), it is being re-chirstened CinemaCon and will move from Paris Las Vegas to Caesars Palace.

Until then, don't forget to go to the movies.