• Festivals

CinemaCon 2023: Scorsese, Rihanna Shine at Final Day Presentations

Following dozens of thrilling trailers, announcements and Hollywood star power gracing the Caesar’s Palace Colosseum stage, CinemaCon 2023 made it to the home stretch with the final two studio presentations on the last day of the annual industry event teasing future movie releases.

Paramount started things off, proudly boasting that after they premiered Top Gun: Maverick at the convention last year, it turned out to be a phenomenal box office smash, raking in nearly $1.5 billion worldwide and officially reinvigorating the post-pandemic market.

Chris Aronson, President of Domestic Distribution of the studio, emerged from a simulated sewer, surrounded by a vibrant dance crew and holding a box of pizza as he walked off stage to share some slices, the preferred culinary delight of the animated characters of the first feature film promoted in the presentation, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem.


Soon after, the film’s producer and writer Seth Rogen presented a first look at the upcoming reimagined cinematic adventures of the foursome, sharing that growing up, he was a fan and was even inspired by them to take up karate, but not before taking a friendly jab at Aronson, jokingly saying that “there is something very appropriate about seeing studio executives rise from the sewers.”

Paramount then laid out an extensive animated slate, including Transformers One with a voice cast led by Chris Hemsworth, Brian Tyree Henry and Scarlett JohanssonThe SpongeBob Movie: Search for SquarePantsAvatar: The Last AirbenderPaw Patrol: The Mighty Movie; and lastly, The Smurf Movie set to be released February 14, 2025, and headlined by superstar Rihanna as the voice of Smurfette.

The Academy Award and Golden Globe nominee and Grammy winner then surprisingly came on stage, a very pregnant cherry on top of the exciting announcement that she will also produce and create original music for the movie, which she will perform.

“I hope this gives me cool points with my kids one day,” said Rihanna who already has a one-year-old at home. “Getting to do animation is a fun journey for me. I get to show up in my pajamas in my third trimester and get to play a little blue bad-ass.”

Later, director Steven Caple Jr. and stars Anthony Ramos and Dominique Fishback promoted the upcoming Transformers: Rise of the Beasts. Jamaican musician Ziggy Marley teased the upcoming music biopic about his late father Bob Marley: One Love in which British actor Kingsley Ben-Adir portrays the trailblazing reggae artist and freedom fighter.

And John Krasinski showed up to support his next two endeavors, the spin-off A Quiet Place: Day One starring Lupita Nyong’o which he will produce while director Michael Sarnoski (Pig) takes the reins, and family movie If which he wrote and directed, starring Ryan Reynolds and young newcomer Cailey Fleming with a heartfelt premise about imaginary friends.

But the biggest highlight was undoubtedly iconic director Martin Scorsese who promoted Killers of the Flower Moon, in association with Apple Original Films, which will have its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival next month.

“This is my sixth film with Leonardo DiCaprio, tenth with Robert De Niro and first with them together,” said the Oscar and Golden Globe-winning director, who later in the day was honored with the inaugural CinemaCon Legend of Cinema Award, which in the future will be handed out annually and named after Scorsese.


Fittingly, Paramount concluded with footage from Tom Cruise’s Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning, Part One, hot off the heels of his previous shining career moment last year. This summer, he and the studios are aiming for another blockbuster with the seventh installment of the long-running action spy film series. Judging from the first 20 minutes shown exclusively at the end of the presentation, that could very well be the case.

Wrapping up the convention later in the day was a rather brisk presentation by Lionsgate, as its Vice Chair of Motion Pictures Group Adam Fogelson skimmed through a list of upcoming titles, from Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret to The Expendables 4, culminating in the first trailer of The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, a prequel of the hit 2010’s franchise in hopes of launching a brand new one which will attract a new generation of fans. The film stars Tom Blyth, Rachel Zegler, Peter Dinklage and Viola Davis.

Lionsgate’s focus was mostly on the comedy film Joy Ride, screened fully at the convention after its premiere at SXSW last month, and releasing in theaters domestically on July 7. The directorial debut of Malaysian-American filmmaker Adele Kim and starring an all-Asian cast, the film follows a group of girlfriends who embark on a wild trip to China filled with twists and turns but mostly laughs, as the screening proved a huge success and garnered very positive reaction from the crowd.

This was perhaps the best way to bring CinemaCon 2023 to a close, with a satisfying creative effort that champions diversity and new voices and signals the way of things to come in Hollywood’s future.