Paramount Pictures added fuel to the final day of CinemaCon 2022 on Thursday by unveiling a trailer for Mission: Impossible 7, showcasing another death-defying Tom Cruise stunt and teasing Damien Chazelle’s anticipated Hollywood fable Babylon. But the true centerpiece was the first full showing of Cruise’s new Top Gun: Maverick that closed out the Thursday morning program.
The long-delayed Top Gun: Maverick, returning Tom Cruise as the ultra-gifted and confident Capt. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, was originally set to hit theaters in summer 2020. The COVID-19 crisis waylaid those plans. Paramount and Skydance subsequently moved the film several more times so that it could get a proper global theatrical release.
The decision to treat theater owners to the first screening of the movie was a way to thank them for their patience, and it appeared to pay off. But before the big debut, the presentation kicked off with an electric performance from female rap trio J.J. Fad with a hit single “Supersonic,” backed by more than a dozen male and female dancers clad in red, white and blue sweats as footage from Par’s latest hit Sonic the Hedgehog 2 played on the big screen overhead.
Known for his CinemaCon pranks, Paramount president of domestic distribution Chris Aronson didn’t disappoint. He arrived on stage wearing the mustache and goggles that are favored by Sonic character Dr. Ivo Robotnik, played by Jim Carrey.
“Everyone awake?” Aronson asked. “Good. Welcome to Paramount Pictures, it’s so great to be back here.” Aronson arrived with good news by recounting the studio’s run of four consecutive #1 box office openings with Scream ($140 million thus far), Jackass Forever ($80 million), The Lost City ($130 million worldwide to date), Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (opened to record-breaking $72.1 million). “We can’t wait to keep momentum.”
He then said that it feels like audiences are getting back to the theaters, and as such, “Fortune favors the bold,” before adding, “But we are not completely back. Now is not the time for complacency. We must work together in every way possible.”
In doing so, he called on theater owners to meet the studios halfway (“Help us help you”) to enhance the guest experience by not playing too many trailers that wind up numbing audiences and making sure the price ratio is fair for moviegoers.
Aronson then presented footage of the studio’s 2022 and 2023 offerings with the biggest reveal coming with Damien Chazelle’s Babylon starring Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie in an epic about old Hollywood as the town transitioned from the silent film era to talkies.
Not much is known about the plot but it appears to be a high-octane, razzle-dazzle drama of sorts with packed sets with Pitt playing silent film star John Gilbert and Margot Robbie as icon Clara Bow. Pitt is seen in several scenes in white boxers and tank top, at one point says, “When I first moved to Hollywood, the signs on all the doors said, ‘No actors and no dogs allowed.’ We changed that.” In another scene, he says, “What happens up there on the screen means something.”
Robbie plays an actress, with clips that feature her on sets and dancing at a giant backyard Hollywood house party. While on set, as the camera moves in to capture her face, Robbie says, “What do you say we come in for my close-up now?”
The Babylon cast also includes Katherine Waterston, Max Minghella, Flea, Samara Weaving, Rory Scovel, Lukas Haas, Eric Roberts, P.J. Byrne, Damon Gupton, Olivia Wilde, Spike Jonze, Phoebe Tonkin, Jean Smart, Li Jun Li, Jovan Adepo, Diego Calva, Chloe Fineman, Jeff Garlin and Troy Metcalf.
Paramount chairman Brian Robbins, in his first CinemaCon presentation, later called Chazelle’s film “brilliant” and “truly spectacular.” During his time on stage, Robbins assured theater owners how much he values the power of the big screen. He also touted the studio’s recent success of The Lost City and Sonic and the Hedgehog 2, both of which played exclusively in theaters. “Theatrical films are the cornerstone of our business,” said Robbins.
Robbins then turned his attention to Cruise, calling him the studio’s most important relationship and complimenting him as the “hardest working and most daring performer in Hollywood.” Unfortunately for CinemaCon attendees, Robbins confirmed that the actor would not be here in Las Vegas today as he’s filming. But he did deliver a “special message,” true to the compliment and his CinemaCon history.
Cruise then appeared on the big screen elevating out of his seat in an antique red plane, and, as the camera zoomed out, the aircraft was high above a canyon. “Hey everyone,” Cruise said, elevated high above a canyon in South Africa.
Just then, a yellow plane appeared, and Cruise was instructed that it was time to go, so he then introduced the first look at the film’s trailer as well as Top Gun: Maverick in its entirety. “Let’s all try to have a great summer. See you at the movies!”
The seventh Mission: Impossible is due out July 14, 2023, with an eighth and presumably final Cruise-led Mission due out June 28, 2024. It is rolling out with the title Dead Reckoning Part 1.
Cruise’s stunt was greeted by major applause which led directly into the MI trailer and then the screening of Top Gun. Directed by Joseph Kosinski, the story follows Maverick as he’s asked to train a new team at Top Gun at the behest of Val Kilmer’s Tom “Iceman” Kazansky, now a Navy admiral (Kilmer has a brief cameo). Kosinski and one of the film’s stars, Glen Powell, were in the audience.
Top Gun: Maverick makes its world premiere in San Deigo on May 4 before heading to the Cannes Film Festival. It lands in theaters domestically on May 28.
The movie was the only summer tentpole screened in full for exhibitors at CinemaCon 2022, which wraps today.