Rihanna to Ryan Gosling – 12 things we learned from CinemaCon 2023

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Rihanna attended the convention to announce her role as Smurfette in The Smurfs movieImage source, Getty Images
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Rihanna attended the convention to announce her role as the voice of Smurfette in The Smurfs movie

This year’s CinemaCon has given a glimpse of some of the biggest releases that film fans can expect in the next couple of years.

Rihanna, Ryan Gosling, Martin Scorsese and Oprah Winfrey were there to make announcements, while there was news about Hunger Games, Transformers, Wicked and Beetlejuice films.

Here are the 12 of the biggest revelations.

1. Rihanna is Smurfette, although she wanted to be Papa Smurf

Performing at the Super Bowl? Tick. Having successful make-up and lingerie lines? Tick. Playing a Smurfette? Tick! What can Rihanna not do?

It seems getting the role of Papa Smurf is one thing Rihanna can’t do, as she joked at CinemaCon.

She made a surprise appearance at the convention, where she took to the stage to announce her latest role as the voice of Smurfette in the new Smurfs movie.

“I tried to get the Papa Smurf role but It didn’t work out,” the Grammy Award winner joked. She will also write and record original songs for the project.

The Smurfs movie is not expected to hit theatres until February 2025.

2. A long-awaited look at the Hunger Games prequel

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What’s a successful film series without a prequel? Eight years since the last film, fans finally got a glimpse of more Hunger Games action – this time going back 64 years before the events of the main story.

It is the first instalment to not feature Jennifer Lawrence’s character Katniss Everdeen – instead we get to see what led Coriolanus Snow, played as a young man by Tom Blyth, to become the tyrannical leader he is in later years.

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is due to be released in November.

3. Chris Hemsworth and Scarlett Johansson will be Transformed

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Johansson and Hemsworth have previously worked together on Avengers: Endgame

From one prequel to another, the Transformers are going back to their roots in the franchise’s first animated adventure for almost 40 years.

The project will tell the story of how a young Optimus Prime and Megatron went from being best pals to big-time enemies.

Chris Hemsworth will loan his voice to Prime, while Megatron will be voiced by Eternals actor Brian Tyree Henry. Scarlett Johansson will play Elita, the female counterpart to Optimus Prime.

Transformers One is expected to be released in July 2024.

4. Wicked will be a ‘fully immersive experience’

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Ariana Grande stars in Wicked as Glinda

Keen fans of the musical Wicked will be wishing they were at the convention, as cinema owners were treated to a rough cut of a brief section of the new film.

According to reports, the clip showed Michelle Yeoh’s character training Elphaba – played by Cynthia Erivo – in the use of magic, and also a first look at Jeff Goldblum’s Wizard of Oz. Sadly you won’t find the clip online because it has not been released.

Director Jon M Chu told the audience the movie does not include CGI or the blue screen filming technique, and it’s “a fully immersive experience”. It will be interesting to see how they defy gravity without the use of CGI…

Wicked will be released in two parts – with the first out in November next year.

5. Christopher Nolan on the ‘most important person who ever lived’

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Christopher Nolan’s latest film looks at the life of atomic bomb creator J Robert Oppenheimer, with Cillian Murphy in the title role.

The Dark Knight and Dunkirk director was at the convention to show new footage. “Like it or not, J Robert Oppenheimer is the most important person who ever lived,” he claimed. “He made the world we live in, for better or for worse.”

He went on to say: “I know of no more dramatic tale with higher stakes, twists and turns and ethical dilemmas.”

Oppenheimer is released this July.

6. Scorsese showed the trailer for his latest film

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Scorsese frequently collaborates with De Niro and DiCaprio but rarely with both together

What’s a Martin Scorsese film without Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio?

At this year’s CinemaCon, Scorsese revealed the first trailer for his forthcoming project Killers of the Flower Moon.

The two actors have both worked with the director several times over the years, but only once together – in short film The Audition.

Killers of the Flower Moon is based on the real story of the murders of members of the Osage Nation in 1920s Oklahoma, and is out in October.

7. Ziggy Marley revealed the title of his father’s biopic

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British actor Kingsley Ben-Adir will play the reggae legend

Bob Marley is the latest legend to have a biopic made about his life, and son Ziggy, who is also a producer on the project, revealed its title at the convention.

It’s called Bob Marley: One Love, and Marley Jr also shared some unseen footage with the CinemaCon audience – although it remains unseen online.

What we do know is that Kingsley Ben-Adir, who played Malcolm X in One Night in Miami, will star as the iconic musician.

Bob Marley: One Love is out next January.

8. Hugh Grant is going to be an Oompa Loompa

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Hugh Grant will play an Oompa Loompa in the new Wonka film

There was a time when Hugh Grant only seemed to be offered roles as lovably bumbling upper-class Englishmen.

That’s been laid to rest once and for all with the news that he has been cast as an Oompa Loompa.

Grant will play one of the workers in the forthcoming Wonka movie – about the life of Willy Wonka, from Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

According to reports, footage played at the convention showed Grant trapped in a tiny glass jar before being rescued by Timothée Chalamet’s Mr Wonka – who, according to Variety, later hires Grant to keep his factory up and running.

Audience members also got a glimpse of Olivia Colman as a Cockney innkeeper and Sally Hawkins as Wonka’s mother.

It’s been reported that Chalamet revealed he swam in real melted chocolate. How’s that for method acting?

Wonka is out in December.

9. Ryan Gosling didn’t understand Ken until he shaved his legs

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Ryan Gosling will play the iconic Ken doll in the upcoming Barbie film

From swimming in chocolate to bleaching hair and shaving legs, CinemaCon revealed the ways in which actors are getting fully into character.

To promote the Barbie film, director Greta Gerwig and actors Margot Robbie, Ryan Gosling and America Ferrera attended the convention – and it was there we found out that Gosling was worried about channelling his inner Ken doll.

He told the audience: “If I’m being really honest, I doubted my Ken-ergy. I didn’t see it. Margot and Greta, I feel like they conjured this out of me somewhere.”

He went on to explain how the spirit of Ken came to him. “I was bleaching my hair and shaving my legs and wearing bespoke neon outfits and rollerblading down Venice Beach. It came on like a fever,” he said.

It won’t be long until fans get to soak up the plastic fantastic world of Barbie when the film comes out in July.

10. Beetlejuice 2 is on the way

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Don’t say his name three times… but Beetlejuice 2 is on the way.

Fans of the 1980s favourite will be happy to hear that Warner Bros announced a second film is in development.

That’s all we know for now, but it’s enough for people to get up and dance to the late Harry Belafonte’s Banana Boat song.

11. The Color Purple remake is not ‘Your Mama’s Color Purple’

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Oprah Winfrey starred in the original movie adaptation of The Color Purple and will produce the musical remake

Almost four decades after the original film, The Color Purple is being remade as a musical.

Oprah Winfrey, who earned a best supporting actress Oscar nomination for her role in the classic, will co-produce the remake, and gave the convention a sneak peek.

Alongside the footage, Winfrey and director Blitz Bazawule revealed the tagline for the movie: “Not Your Mama’s Color Purple.”

The Color Purple is expected to hit cinemas in December.

12. Melissa McCarthy’s singing made waves

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Our hearts go out to the poor unfortunate souls who missed Melissa McCarthy’s rendition of a classic Disney song.

Although she sadly didn’t perform live, McCarthy introduced a clip of her singing Poor Unfortunate Souls from Disney’s live action remake of The Little Mermaid.

While on stage, McCarthy said it was an honour to play Ursula, one of the most iconic Disney villains, who she described as “dishy” and “a conniving broad”, but “you can’t help but love her at the same time”.

We will have to see if the audience fall in love with her when the film is released next month.

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