On Wednesday, Universal Pictures showcased its upcoming theatrical slate at exhibition convention CinemaCon in Las Vegas. Among the films included in the studio’s presentation were Minions: The Rise Of Gru, Puss In Boots: The Last Wish, and Bros, the latter of which was touted by its star and writer Billy Eichner as the first gay romantic comedy produced and distributed by a major Hollywood studio. But Nope, Halloween Ends, and Jurassic World: Dominion drew some of the strongest reactions from convention attendees, especially after being introduced by their stars, or in the case of Nope, by writer-director Jordan Peele.
Peele appeared on stage early in the presentation, and he spoke passionately about getting people into theaters to see his latest film, an original story being released in an era where sequels and remakes are more popular than ever. Afterward, he presented a new, longer clip for the film which reveals some extremely important details that, for the sake of moviegoers who don’t want to be spoiled, will not be shared here. Nevertheless, what he shared not only identified the menace faced by James Haywood (Daniel Kaluuya) and his sister Jill (Keke Palmer), but showed it on screen—so beware other articles reporting on the new footage.
Next, Jamie Lee Curtis presented Halloween Ends, the (presumed and by all accounts definitive) conclusion to the performers’ tenure as part of the Halloween film series. While cursing a blue streak—typically a no-no at the convention, but who’s going to stop her?—she not only acknowledged her 44-year history with the franchise, but explored the appeal and even importance of horror as a genre. “I had no idea when I was cowering in the closet 45 years ago that this character would become the most important relationship of my entire career in professional life—and I’m grateful,” Curtis said. “Laurie Strode is the O.G. final girl, she’s the one the term apparently was created for—the one that won’t be stopped, will face the monsters when others run. And over the years, that has taken on obviously new dimensions.”
“I see Laurie now as more than just a figure facing a literal boogeyman. I see her standing up for so many women who face their own figurative boogeymen. And just like them, she won’t back down,” she added, crediting the writers of her script for the presentation with galvanizing her understanding of the genre’s value. “Horror lets us confront what we can’t control. It allows us to scream and fight and sometimes win in a world that doesn’t always allow those cathartic opportunities.”
Wrapping her thoughtful and celebratory comments, she premiered a first-look trailer for Halloween Ends, a movie which she promised was going to “fuck you up.” Most of the trailer traced the history of her character from 1978 to now, finally arriving at the showdown that Halloween fans have been waiting for. While it remains to be seen how the full story unfolds, the brief scene between the two builds to a moment where Michael is pinned to a counter while Laurie toys with him, butcher knife in hand. Apparently Halloween ends, but not before things get very bloody.
Other films included in the presentation not mentioned above include Megan, a sci-fi horror film starring Alison Williams, about an android companion that becomes homicidally protective of a young girl who loses her parents; Beast, a man-versus-nature story starring Idris Elba as a father fighting to protect his daughters when a lion attacks them in the African wilderness; Easter Sunday, a comedy starring Jo Koy about an expansive family gathering on what his character calls “the Super Bowl of Filipino holidays;” The Last Voyage Of The Demeter, a horror film about Dracula’s bloody sea voyage to America; Ticket To Paradise, an anti-romantic comedy starring Julia Roberts and George Clooney about a long-divorced couple that bands together to break up their daughter’s impetuous engagement; She Said, a dramatization of the investigation into Harvey Weinstein starring Zoe Kazan and Carey Mulligan; and Violent Night, a holiday-themed action movie starring David Harbour as Santa Claus, about a home invasion that gets interrupted when old Kris Kringle decides to pop down a chimney on Christmas Eve.
Finally, Bryce Dallas Howard and Jeff Goldblum presented footage from Jurassic World: Dominion. Goldblum was as always his idiosyncratic and mischievous self while Howard confessed a crush on him at 12 during the original Jurassic Park, and then the two of them debuted a clip that they claimed was created exclusively for CinemaCon attendees. The most noteworthy beat of the footage revealed that Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) reunites with the velociraptor Blue, only for the beast’s infant to be stolen by human poachers. He promises to rescue the animal—a fact that Ian Malcolm (Goldblum) rightfully questions—while an ensemble comprised of characters from both the original Jurassic films and then the new ones attempts to navigate a deadly world in which dinosaurs once again rule.
With just weeks until that film is released, Universal withheld what promises to be bigger surprises. Unsurprisingly, the studio also did not address the director shake-up on Fast X, but there will be another CinemaCon before that is slated to open. Regardless, Universal’s presentation was easily the funniest one so far—thanks in no small part to Koy, who had attendees splitting their sides as he introduced Easter Sunday—and set up a slate that is bigger than any other studio’s.