CinemaCon: Disney Details Pixar, 20th, Marvel Slate, ‘Avatar’ Sequel

Walt Disney Studios’ presentation at CinemaCon 2022 took place at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas earlier today, where Disney’s head of theatrical distribution Tony Chambers, Marvel Studios’ president Kevin Feige and Avatar producer Jon Landau unveiled the studio group’s 2022 theatrical release slate, offering an exclusive preview of titles from Marvel Studios, Pixar Animation Studios and 20th Century Studios.

The preview included a look at three upcoming releases from 20th Century Studios, notably The Bob’s Burgers Movie and James Cameron’s first follow-up to his sci-fi action-adventure Avatar, the highest-grossing movie of all time.

avatar concept
‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ concept art (image source: @Disney via RottenTomatoes)

Opening in theaters December 16,  Avatar: The Way of Water is set more than a decade after the events of the first film, and begins to tell the story of the Sully family (Jake, Neytiri and their kids), the trouble that follows them, the lengths they go to keep each other safe, the battles they fight to stay alive, and the tragedies they endure.

Directed by James Cameron and produced by Cameron and Landau, the film stars Zoe Saldana, Sam Worthington, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang, Cliff Curtis, Joel David Moore, CCH Pounder, Edie Falco, Jemaine Clement, Giovanni Ribisi and Kate Winslet. To whet audiences’ appetites, the studio will re-release Avatar in theaters on September 23.

The teaser trailer, which was screened in 3D for the very first time today and reportedly drew enthusiastic responses from the CinemaCon audience, will debut exclusively in theaters with Marvel Studios’ Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness on May 6. In addition, Saldana will be receiving the CinemaCon “Star of the Year” award at the Big Screen Achievement Award ceremony on Thursday evening, April 28.

In a video message pre-recorded from New Zealand, where the sequels are filming, Cameron said this return to Pandora is “designed for the biggest screen and the most immersive 3D available” and “to test the limits of what cinema can do.” The worldwide release will offer 160 language versions and an unprecedented number of formats, including IMAX, stereo 3-D and PLF.

The Bob's Burgers Movie
The Bob’s Burgers Movie

The studio also screened the first six minutes of The Bob’s Burgers Movie, which opens in theaters nationwide May 27, for convention attendees. As previously announced, the story begins when a ruptured water main creates an enormous sinkhole right in front of Bob’s Burgers, blocking the entrance indefinitely and ruining the Belchers’ plans for a successful summer. While Bob and Linda struggle to keep the business afloat, the kids try to solve a mystery that could save their family’s restaurant. As the dangers mount, these underdogs help each other find hope and fight to get back behind the counter, where they belong.

The animated, big-screen, musical comedy-mystery-adventure based on the long-running Emmy-winning series showcases tbhe voice talent of the show’s cast and recurring guests, including H. Jon Benjamin, Dan Mintz, Eugene Mirman, Larry Murphy, John Roberts and Kristen Schaal, with Zach Galifianakis and Kevin Kline. The film is directed by Loren Bouchard & Bernard Derriman. The screenplay is by Bouchard & Nora Smith. The producers are Bouchard, Nora Smith, and Janelle Momary-Neely.

(Check out pre-Con clips released this week here and here.)


CinemaCon attendees were also treated to footage from Disney and Pixar’s upcoming feature film Lightyear, which opens in theaters on June 17. This sci-fi action-adventure and the definitive origin story of Buzz Lightyear, the hero who inspired the toy, follows the legendary Space Ranger after he’s marooned on a hostile planet 4.2 million light-years from Earth alongside his commander and their crew. As Buzz tries to find a way back home through space and time, he’s joined by a group of ambitious recruits and his charming robot companion cat, Sox. Complicating matters and threatening the mission is the arrival of Zurg, an imposing presence with an army of ruthless robots and a mysterious agenda.

The film features the voices of Chris Evans as Buzz Lightyear, Uzo Aduba as his commander and best friend, Alisha Hawthorne, and Peter Sohn as Sox. Keke Palmer, Taika Waititi and Dale Soules lend their voices to the Junior Zap Patrol’s Izzy Hawthorne, Mo Morrison and Darby Steel, respectively, and James Brolin can be heard as the enigmatic Zurg. The voice cast also includes Mary McDonald-Lewis as onboard computer I.V.A.N., Isiah Whitlock Jr. as Commander Burnside, Efren Ramirez as Airman Diaz and Keira Hairston as Young Izzy. The film is directed by Angus MacLane (co-director, Finding Dory), produced by Galyn Susman (Toy Story That Time Forgot), and features a score by award-winning composer Michael Giacchino (The Batman, Up).

(Read all about Lightyear in the June ’22 issue of Animation Magazine, available soon!)

Doctor Strange
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

… And Marvel Studios took the CinemaCon audience on a thrill ride through the Multiverse with footage from Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, which opens in U.S. theaters on May 6. With the film, the MCU unlocks the Multiverse and pushes its boundaries further than ever before. Fans will journey into the unknown with Doctor Strange, who, with the help of mystical allies both old and new, traverses the mind-bending and dangerous alternate realities of the Multiverse to confront a mysterious new adversary.        

The film stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Elizabeth Olsen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Wong and Xochitl Gomez, with Michael Stühlbarg and Rachel McAdams.  Sam Raimi directs, and Kevin Feige is the producer. Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso, Eric Hauserman Carroll, Scott Derrickson and Jamie Christopher serve as executive producers. The screenplay was written by Michael Waldron.

According to Feige, the sequel has already totted up $42 million in pre-sales.

A sizzle real opening the presentation also offered glimpses at Black Panther: Wakanda Forever directed by Ryan Coogler (Nov. 11) and Thor: Love and Thunder from Taika Waititi (July 8).



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