HFPA members attending the annual theater owners and exhibitors’ convention CinemaCon in Las Vegas this week were treated to good news about the health of the movie industry and some ground breaking previews of films to come like Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit” and Ang Lee’s Life of Pi.


According to John Fithian, President and CEO of the National Association of Theater Owners (NATO) world wide box office was up 3% in 2011 and 6% in the last twelve months domestically. Former senator and current chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America Chris Dodd stated that the first quarter 2012 was up 17% compared to last year.

The studios brought out their product reels and stars to reassure the attending delegates from 62 countries that the trend will continue: At the Paramount Pictures opening event Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson who will be seen next in G.I. Joe 2 was called “franchise viagra” and presented with the Action Star of the Decade award. Tom Cruise introduced a clip from his latest film One Shot and Sacha Baron Cohen (below left with Jeffrey Katzenberg) entertained the audience with his appearance in full costume as “The Dictator”.

John Lasseter, head of Disney Animation and Pixar, also dressed up: For his introduction of Pixar’s Scottish themed “Brave” he entered the stage in a kilt accompanied by a group of bagpipers.

Peter Jackson’s crisp ten minute preview of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” which was projected with 48 frames per second as opposed to the usual 24 frames prompted much discussion as did Twentieth Century Fox’s announcement that the studio would stop delivering 35mm prints to theaters within the next two years. Fox also showed new footage of Ridley Scott’s “Prometheus” and stunned the audience with a first look at Ang Lee’s 3D offering “Life of Pi”, based on the best selling novel by Yann Martel about an Indian boy who ends up shipwrecked with a Bengal tiger.

Warner Bros. brought out their star directors Tim Burton (with Johnny Depp for Dark Shadows) and Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight Rises) to present clips and Baz Luhrman sent in a first look at his “The Great Gatsby” in 3D. Sony Pictures excited theater owners with previews of their reboots (The Amazing Spider-Man, Total Recall) and their clip for the next 007 installment Skyfall while Universal Pictures presented Anne Hathaway singing I Dreamed a Dream in a scene from the upcoming musical Les Misérables also starring Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe.

Cinema owner Konrad Schibli from Switzerland was more than satisfied with what he saw: “Film production has advanced another step. The effects look great and the themes are presented in an innovative way. All that is possible, because people are going to the movies again and therefore more money flows back to Hollywood.”

During the Closing Night Gala on Thursday, CinemaCon Big Screen Achievement Awards were presented to:

Sylvester Stallone, Career Achievement Award
Taylor Kitsch, Male Star of Tomorrow
Chloë Grace Moretz, Female Star of Tomorrow
Diego Boneta, Rising Star of 2012
Josh Hutcherson, Breakthrough Performer of the Year
Anna Faris, Comedy Star of the Year
Charlize Theron, Distinguished Decade of Achievement in Film
Judd Apatow, Award of Excellence in Filmmaking
Michelle Pfeiffer, Cinema Icon Award
Jennifer Garner, Female Star of the Year
Jeremy Renner, Male Star of the Year

——Marlène von Arx,