Paramount Pictures added fuel to the final day of CinemaCon 2022 on Thursday by unveiling a trailer for Mission: Impossible 7showing 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 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 by female rap trio JJ Fad of their hit single “Supersonic,” backed by more than a dozen 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 onstage 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 No. 1 box office openings: 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 muse that, since audiences are finally returning to theaters, “Fortune favors the bold,” 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 from the studio’s 2022 and 2023 offerings, with the biggest reveal being Damien Chazelle’s Babylon, an epic about old Hollywood’s transition from the silent film era to talkies starring Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie. Not much is known about the plot specifics, but it appears to be a high-octane, razzle-dazzle drama with Pitt playing silent film star John Gilbert and Margot Robbie as icon Clara Bow. Pitt’s character, 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.”
Robbie’s Bow is shown in the preview footage 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, PJ 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 onstage, Robbins assured theater owners how much he values the power of the big screen. He also told the studio’s recent success The Lost City and Sonic 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 the “hardest-working and most daring performer in Hollywood.” Unfortunately for CinemaCon attendees, Robbins confirmed that the actor would not be there in person as he was busy filming. But Cruise did deliver a “special message,” true to the compliment and his CinemaCon history.
Cut to Cruise, standing up from his seat in an antique red plane and as the camera zoomed out, it was revealed that the plane was hovering high above a canyon in South Africa. “Hey everyone,” Cruise said, with his voice muffled slightly due to the wind. “Wish I could be there with you. I’m sorry for the extra noise. As you can see, we are filming the latest installment of Mission: Impossible.”
Just then, a yellow plane appeared with helmer Christopher McQuarrie inside and he instructed Cruise that it was time to go. Before flying off, Cruise introduced the first look at the film’s trailer, followed by 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. The seventh film has been given the subtitle Dead Reckoning: Part 1.
Directed by Joseph Kosinski, the new Top Gun follows Maverick as he’s asked to train a new team of elite aviators 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 will make its world premiere in San Diego 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.