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Director Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio pose together at the Martin Scorsese "Legend of Cinema" Award Presentation during CinemaCon 2023 in Las Vegas. Image Credit: AP

Paramount Pictures, still riding high on the success of ‘Top Gun: Maverick’s’ nearly $1.5 billion (Dh5.51 billion) in worldwide ticket sales, brought a slew of stars from Rihanna to Martin Scorsese to CinemaCon for its presentation to theatre owners.

Paramount has fewer releases than the other big studios, but they have several big, IP-driven titles like ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem’, (August 4) ‘Transformers: Rise of the Beasts’ (June 9) and ‘Paw Patrol: The Mighty Movie’ (September 29). It is also handling the theatrical release of Martin Scorsese’s ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’, which debuts at Cannes next month and opens in theatres on October 6. And, of course, Paramount has ‘Mission: Impossible’.

The studio showed an extended clip of a comedic and exciting chase sequence with Tom Cruise and Hayley Atwell from the seventh instalment in the series, ‘Dead Reckoning Part I’. The film will now open in theatres two days earlier than planned, now on Wednesday, July 12. Cruise did not attend.

The studio announced, for 2025, ‘The SpongeBob Movie: Search for SquarePants’ and ‘The Smurf Movie’, starring Rihanna as Smurfette. She also produced.

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Rihanna speaks on stage as she promotes her upcoming film 'The Smurfs Movie'. Image Credit: AFP

Rihanna on her smurf role

“I tried to get the Papa Smurf part but it didn’t work out,” Rihanna said. “Getting to do animation is a fun journey for me. In this I got to play a part where I got to just imagine, I got to be, I got to show up in my pyjamas in my third trimester and play a little blue (expletive).”

She added: “I hope this gives me a little bit of cool points with my kids one day.”

The star-power even had ‘Transformers’ director Steven Caple Jr. a little flustered: “I just met Rihanna backstage,” he exclaimed.

On stage, “Transformers” star Dominique Fishback gave a shutout to Regal owners. She used to work at one in New York when she was younger, she said, and just dreamed of being up the screen.

Martin Scorsese gets ovation

Scorsese got a long ovation from the theatre owners when he came out to talk about ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’, an Apple Original Films production that is getting a major theatrical release.

“This is a picture that I designed to be projected on a big screen,” Scorsese said. “It doesn’t mean films can’t be appreciated on small screens but this is a big screen movie, as you’ll see.”

The director showed the first trailer for the film, about a series of murders in Osage County, Oklahoma, in the early 1920s. There were plenty of gunshots, tears and even some laughs with Jesse Plemons’ detective who arrives to “see about these murders.”

“This is my sixth picture with Leonardo DiCaprio. It’s my 10th with Robert De Niro. And it’s my first with both of them together,” he said.

Later, the director was given an inaugural icon award that will be known as the Scorsese award in the future. He made a plea to get independent films back in the major multiplexes before DiCaprio moderated a conversation with Scorsese as exhibitors ate lunch.

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Hollywood producer Seth Rogen Image Credit: AFP

‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ producer Seth Rogen had the crowd laughing noting that it seems “unfair to make studio executives hold a stage meant for the biggest stars in the world.” The studio presentations at the trade convention are held in the 4,100-seat Colosseum theatre in the Caesars Palace hotel.

“They built this for Adele!” Rogen joked.

CinemaCon, he said, is “Perfect if you want to have an hourlong ... conversation with a guy who owns two screens in Wilmington. That’s why we come!”

Rogen introduced a funny extended clip of the animated ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’, which opens August 4

“If you show this to your children, you’re not a terrible parent,” he promised.

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John Krasinski Image Credit: AFP

John Krasinski’s next movie

John Krasinski showed a clip from the ‘A Quiet Place’ prequel ‘Day One’, directed by Michael Sarnoski and starring Lupita Nyong’o. It chronicles that first day of the invasion form her perspective in New York. It opens in theatres March 8.

Krasinski gave the ‘Quiet Place’ spin-off to another director so he could focus on his movie ‘If’, also due in 2024. He said he wanted to make because he wanted to give his kids a movie they could see before they were 40. ‘If’ stars Ryan Reynolds and is about imaginary friends. Reynolds said it was like a “live-action Pixar movie.”

Paramount also unveiled the voice cast for an animated ‘Transformers’ movie, due in 2024, ‘Transformers One’, including Chris Hemsworth as ‘young Optimums Prime’, Brian Tyree Henry, Scarlett Johansson, Laurence Fishburne, Keegan Michael-Key and Jon Hamm.

Ziggy Marley made an appearance, too, for the just-wrapped film about his father Bob Marley, starring Kingsley Ben-Adir and Lashana Lynch as Bob and Rita Marley. It was directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green and arrives next year.

Paramount president and CEO Brian Robbins echoed a common refrain this week, that “we need theatrical to make streaming work.”

“The evidence is really clear,” Robbins said, noting that Paramount+ is the fastest growing streaming service.

Chris Aronson, president of domestic theatrical distribution, challenged the audience of theatre owners to change the status quo when it comes to movie ticket prices.

“Pre-COVID, admissions were going down and ticket prices were going up,” Aronson said. “We should be experimenting with variable pricing, like we did with ‘80 for Brady,’ and we need to amplify those efforts. Let’s work together to get it right.”

Tickets for screenings of ‘80 for Brady’ at AMC, Cinemark and Regal were sold for matinee prices (which vary depending on location) for all showings. The movie made nearly $40 million (Dh146.88 million) ultimately.