Every year, movie theater owners and studios gather at CinemaCon in Las Vegas to discuss the changing state of the movie business and release strategies. The convention usually includes studios and stars presenting footage of highly-anticipated films. First up at this year’s edition is Sony, which delivered first looks at Whitney Houston biopic I Wanna Dance with Somebody, Viola Davis action/drama The Woman King and a new clip from Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.
Gina Prince-Bythewood directs the action/drama starring Oscar-winner Viola Davis, Thuso Mbedu (The Underground Railroad) and John Boyega (Star Wars). It follows Dahomey general Nanisca (Davis) as she defends her kingdom alongside new recruit Nawi (Mbedu).
According to Deadline, Davis was on hand to praise the film and accept the CinemaCon Trailblazer of the Year award. “You know the five words I don’t want to take to my grave would be, ‘’I was not brave enough.’ That I didn’t risk discomfort, failure, exposure,” she said.
The Oscar-winner also called the legendary Cecily Tyson her inspiration. She would later get to work with Tyson when she played Davis’ mother on How to Get Away with Murder.
“I just knew that when I was 9-years-old and I saw [her] for the first time, and saw that vision jump out of the screen, the radical power that gave me to believe in something bigger than my world, it touched down and landed in me and it landed in a generation of artists,” the Emmy-winner said of Tyson. “And I wanted to do that in my work as an actor. I wanted to play characters that have never been seen before in a body that looked like mine… and be a producer who championed those stories with people, with a history that looked like me.”
The trailer features Davis “leading a tribe as White settlers arrive on the coast. Nanisca tells her tribe that the settlers ‘won’t stop until the whole of Africa is theirs.’”
John Boyega’s King Ghezo says, “You’re asking me to take them to war,” to which Nanisca replies, “Some things are worth fighting for.”
“I offer you a choice: fight or we die,” she screams at her tribesmen, “We fight for our ancestors, we fight for the future.”
Well that all sounds awesome. Viola Davis and Thuso Mbedu as African warriors defending their king John Boyega from colonizers is everything we want in a movie.
Naomie Ackie (Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker) stars in the Whitney Houston biopic that follows the late singer’s life and career. It’s directed by Kasi Lemmons and co-stars Ashton Sanders as Bobby Brown, Nafessa Williams as Whitney’s long-time friend/confidante Robyn Crawford, Stanley Tucci as music producer Clive Davis and Tamara Tunie as Whitney’s mother Cissy Houston.
Per USA Today, the footage shows Ackie as Houston in a “pastel-colored getup” singing the film’s title song. Then a short clip was shown of Ackie in the famous white tracksuit, delivering the singer’s legendary performance of the “Star-Spangled Banner” at the Super Bowl.
Davis, who is one of the film’s producers, told USA Today about Ackie: “We were very impressed that Whitney’s persona was being captured.” He went on to confirm that the singing in the movie will be done by Whitney because they “just didn’t think anyone could capture her vocal genius, so it will be the Whitney voice in the film.”
The studio closed out the evening with footage from the biopic of the boxer “showing him as an angry youth turned into a world class fighter and the world heavyweight champion,” per Deadline.
“It took me a lot of time until I was ready to tell my story on the big screen, but with George Tillman at the helm, I knew I was good. And when you get knocked down, you get back up again both in life and in the ring,” Foreman said via video.
Producers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller gave theater owners the gift of the first 15 minutes of Across the Spider-Verse. Shameik Moore returns as the voice of Miles Morales in the follow-up to 2018 Oscar-winner Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. He is joined by Hailee Steinfeld as Gwen Stacy/Spider-Woman, Oscar Isaac as Miguel O’Hara/Spider-Man 2099 and Issa Rae as Jessica Drew/Spider-Woman.
Variety reports, the story travels to six different universes and features 240 characters. And that’s all I’m going to tell you about the movie. If you’re interested, there are extensive descriptions of the footage available, but I’m not going to spoil anything here.
We also found out that the third film in the franchise is officially titled Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse and is scheduled for release March 29, 2024.
Fun fact: I’m already in line for The Woman King.