While fans were allowed to ask questions to the string of talent from Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes, The Maze Runner and DreamWorks’ How To Train Your Dragon 2 at 20th Century Fox’s WonderCon panel, the one creative talent not fielding questions from the crowd was X-Men: Days Of Future Past writer and producer Simon Kinberg. While a “no questions” policy wasn’t blatantly announced, Fox gracefully saved its X-Men presentation for the final portion of its nearly two-hour panel. And it was brief next to the half-hour-plus devoted to Planet Of The Apes. Kinberg stepped in at the last minute after the studio pulled Bryan Singer in the wake of the director being slammed with a sexual abuse civil lawsuit. Kinberg promised the crowd that he had footage that was never seen before, but that wasn’t the case: He showed the same clip that was on the MTV Movie Awards last weekend with the young X-Men including Kitty Pryde, Colossus and Iceman fighting a rather large latex figure who absorbs their powers. When Singer’s name appeared onscreen in the trailer that was shown at WonderCon today, the crowd was unfazed.
WonderCon: 20th Century Fox Executes Bryan Singer PR Control During ‘X-Men: Days Of Future Past’ Panel
With a chorus line of 40 Samba-dancing Vegas showgirls parading through the audience to the stage for a performance of a song from the upcoming Rio 2 (4/11), 20th Century Fox got its CinemaCon presentation off in style. And the studio earned high marks for attempting to put a little showmanship that has been missing from some other presentations this week. Hey this is Vegas. Let’s liven it up, folks. And Fox did.
This is not to say the rest of their “show” was not all about showing off footage from their 2014 slate. It was, but clearly they put a lot of work into impressing these theatre owners who responded strongly to what Fox was offering. Distribution President Chris Aronson appeared with a feather headdress on (he looked pretty hot) but quickly took it off for a more corporate look as he welcomed the crowd and got things rolling including those previously reported remarks regarding NATO ‘s John Fithian and 12 Years A Slave. He pointed out that the studio’s total worldwide boxoffice was $3.39 billion, the fifth consecutive year they have exceeded the $3 billion mark. He then introduced 20th’s Chairman Jim Gianopulos who expertly hosted the event as he does each year, actually managing to sound like he’s not reading stuff off a prompter – an art both he and Disney’s M.C. Alan Horn have mastered. He launched right into it by announcing “we are starting summer in April this year” and bringing on Cameron Diaz and Leslie Mann to introduce clips of their comedy The Other Woman. Then it was time for the “tentpoles” as he intro’d a clip package featuring the opening scene and trailer from X Men: Days Of Future Past (5/23), extended footage from How To Train Your Dragon 2 (6/13) from their partnership with DreamWorks Animation and a harrowing scene from Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes (7/11) , the latter really whetting the exhibitors appetite. Let’s just say it involves a couple of drunk guys, a playful-seeming ape and an Uzi. Wow. Even Shailene Woodley, star of 20th’s June 6th romantic drama The Fault In Our Stars, said she was still shaking from the Apes footage when Gianopulos brought her on.
EXCLUSIVE: Right after 20th Century Fox and Chernin Entertainment began screening his cut of Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes, Matt Reeves has signed on to direct the third installment of the franchise. This time, he will write the script with Mark Bomback, one of the writers who scripted the sequel. Amanda Silver and Rick Jaffa were the scribes who resurrected the franchise with Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, the Ruper Wyatt-directed film that grossed $482 million worldwide in 2011. The directing deal is done and the writer deals are being worked out right now. It is likely that Reeves will go right into the third film, a priority for the studio.
The sequel is set to debut July 11, 2014, and it stars Gary Oldman, Jason Clarke and Keri Russell, with Andy Serkis reprising his role as Caesar, the intelligent ape that led the breakout from a lab before much of the human race was wiped out at the close of the first film. The survivors square off against Caesar’s growing army in the second film. The pic is based on the Pierre Boulle novel, and was first turned into a film that starred Charlton Heston in 1968.
EXCLUSIVE: Cloverfield helmer Matt Reeves has been set to direct Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes, the 20th Century Fox sequel to Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes. Reeves was atop the list to replace Rupert Wyatt, and the other names I’d heard were in contention were The Disappearance Of Alice Creed helmer J Blakeson, 28 Weeks Later helmer Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, Take Shelter director Jeff Nichols, Pacific Rim helmer Guillermo del Toro, The Impossible helmer Juan Antonio Bayona and Looper helmer Rian Johnson (though Johnson’s reps denied he is in the hunt).
Fox production president Emma Watts was in a spot when Wyatt exited (which Deadline revealed September 17), but they’ve gotten a good director here in Reeves, who last helmed the remake Let Me In. Reeves was attached to helm The Twilight Zone movie at Warner Bros (I’m told he dropped out of that one), as well as This Dark Endeavor, with Mean Creek writer/helmer Jacob Aaron Estes writing the script for Summit Entertainment. He is also developing The Passage for Fox 2000, and Eight O’Clock In The Morning at Universal. The studio fully expects to stay on track and make the May 23, 2014 release date that Fox announced in May.
EXCLUSIVE: 20th Century Fox has come up with a short list to replace Rupert Wyatt as the director of Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes. I’m hearing that Cloverfield’s Matt Reeves is atop the list, along with The Disappearance Of Alice Creed helmer J Blakeson, 28 Weeks Later helmer Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, Take Shelter and Mud director Jeff Nichols, Pacific Rim helmer Guillermo del Toro, The Impossible helmer Juan Antonio Bayona and Looper helmer Rian Johnson (Johnson’s reps deny he is in the hunt).
EXCLUSIVE: 20th Century Fox, already undergoing seismic changes with Tom Rothman’s year end exit, might have a major director to replace on one of the studio’s most important film franchises. I’m hearing that Rupert Wyatt, who helmed the superb franchise reboot Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, will leave the sequel. I’m told that Wyatt’s exit is similar to the same reason that Gary Ross stepped out of Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Wyatt didn’t feel comfortable making the May 23, 2014 release date that the studio announced in May.