Sony had a rough 2015. Coming off of a ruinous and controversy-laden megahack and the quick demise of the Amazing Spider-Man cinematic universe, the studio weathered a series of box-office misses like Pixels, Aloha, and Concussion. Even bright-spot Spectre felt like a qualified success, grossing $300 million less than Skyfall and climaxing with an Act 3 that only makes sense with a Deathdream Theory.
But at CinemaCon 2016, Sony Pictures chairman Tom Rothman presented an impressive slate of upcoming films, beginning with Ang Lee’s buzzy Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk and Passengers, the Chris Pratt-Jennifer Lawrence space adventure, both cool-looking, non-franchise films. Rothman also debuted footage from Baby Driver, Edgar Wright’s first film since parting ways with Marvel Studios over Ant-Man. And even the first sequel Sony announced was eccentric: Trainspotting 2 will start shooting in May.
Perhaps more expected: Threequels for Hotel Transylvania and The Smurfs. The next Smurfs movie, subtitled The Lost Village, will be fully animated, and will star Demi Lovato as Smurfette. Sony is also working on a Nativity-themed animated film about a Donkey who somehow assists in the First Christmas. (Hopefully not as a Doula.) Sony also introduced The Emoji Movie, which will take place in the world inside your smartphone. (Sure this sounds dumb but didn’t you love LEGO Movie? Sure, we all did, so we’re all to blame for The Emoji Movie.) Sony is also releasing The Angry Birds Movie in May. Have they announced The Tinder Movie yet? That’s a freebie!
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The studio also showed off footage from Resident Evil: The Final Chapter and Underworld: Blood Wars. If you’re wondering why Resident Evil and Underworld haven’t crossed over yet, it’s probably because Sony was too busy mashing the Men in Black and 21 Jump Street franchises together. Which is happening: Sony called the film “MIB 23,” though it’s unclear if that’s a codename or an actual title. “MIB 23” appeared in a burst of sequel announcements at the end of the presentation, some of which (Equalizer 2, Bad Boys III, a new Flatliners) had already been scheduled. Others seemed to confirm longstanding rumors: The Girl Who Played with Fire, a RoboTech movie directed by James Wan, a Charlie’s Angels reboot directed by Elizabeth Banks, a Barbie movie.
Sony also played a full trailer for When the Bough Breaks, a wild-looking erotic thriller about a surrogate-mother-from-HELL starring Morris Chestnut and Regina Hall, and Don’t Breathe, a thriller about a blind man played by Stephen Lang tormenting the people who break into his house. There was also some nifty-looking action footage from the Magnificent Seven reboot. And, in a teaser for this summer’s Ghostbusters reboot, original buster Dan Aykroyd cameo’d as a taxi driver. Aykroyd said, “I ain’t afraid of no ghosts.” Hey, it looks better than Pixels.