CinemaCon Recap: Warner Bros. Showcases An Impressive Film Slate of Blockbusters Including “Elvis,” “Black Adam,” “Salem’s Lot” and “Don’t Worry Darling”

Warner Bros. is a tough act to follow at CinemaCon this year with a winning film slate that is full of superhero tentpoles in addition to creative originals that feel destined to make an impact with audiences. The studio reaffirmed its commitment to theatrical exclusivity windows in the wake of the success of The Batman, with director Matt Reeves joining Toby Emmerich, chairman of Warner Bros. Pictures Group, to announce that a sequel is already in the works. The beginning of the show also included a sizzle reel at what fans can expect in 2023, including the first image released of Margot Robbie as Barbie. But the majority of the two-hour presentation was spent on the following films, hosted by Aisha Tyler (Archer).

(Warner Bros.)

(Warner Bros.)

Elvis – June 22nd, 2022

Acclaimed director, writer, and producer Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge!) said that Elvis isn’t really a biopic, but a story of America across three decades, the 1950s through 70s, focusing on a figure at the center of the culture. Through the film, we get to see “The King” as a rebel in the 50s, the highest-paid actor in Hollywood in the 60s, and locked inside of a hotel room by his manager Colonel Tom Parker in the 70s. The story is actually told from the perspective of “The Colonel,” played by Tom Hanks, whom Luhrmann referred to as “The Rolls-Royce of actors.”

After premiering a gripping scene from the film, actor Aaron Butler (Switched at Birth) joined Baz on stage to talk about playing the icon. “I was over the moon,” Aaron recalled about landing the role, revealing that he not only had to play Elvis across three decades but also emulate his persona. Having studied for the role, he recognized that Elvis’ voice, movement, and singing style changed with each decade.

DC League of Super-Pets – July 29th, 2022

Dwayne Johnson (Jungle Cruise) is doing double duty for Warner Bros. and DC as the voice of Krypto and as the star of Black Adam (more on that below). The larger-than-life Dwayne Johnson pretended he was sending in a pre-recorded video message, but he was actually backstage in front of a green screen, stepping out to help promote both films. In League of Super-Pets, Dwayne voices Krypto, Superman’s dog who has to team up with other pets with powers to save his pawrent. CinemaCon attendees were treated to an extended trailer for the film, which has yet to be released elsewhere.

Salem’s Lot – September 9th, 2022

James Won, director of Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, serves as a producer on the big-screen adaptation of the classic Stephen King novel. The film is written and directed by Gary Dauberman, who also helmed the 2017 adaptation of It. CinemaCon attendees were the first to see the trailer and James Won also talked about the film’s commitment to using as many practical visual effects as possible in this thrilling vampire story.

Don’t Worry Darling – September 23rd, 2022

From Booksmart director Olivia Wilde comes a psychological thriller that asks what it would take for a person to give up a perfect life. With a cast that includes Florence Pugh (Black Widow), Harry Styles (Eternals), Chris Pine (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse), and Gemma Chan (Eternals), Olivia Wilde described the film as a dream come true. She shared that 18 studios bid on the project, but she chose Warner Bros. because they were committed to her vision of making it for the big screen. Attendees were treated to the premiere of the trailer following Olivia Wilde’s introduction.

Black Adam – October 21st, 2022

Along with Dwayne Johnson’s promotion for League of Super-Pets, the actor shared his excitement for his on-screen role as the title character in Black Adam. Johnson has spent a decade trying to get the film made, which is co-produced by his company Seven Bucks Productions. He shared that his favorite actor is Clint Eastwood and this character is like the Dirty Harry of the DC Universe. Joining Dwayne Johnson on stage to introduce the trailer were cast members Noah Centineo (The Fosters) and Quintessa Swindell, who play Atom Smasher and Cyclone. We were treated to the premiere of the first trailer and fun fact, Dwayne Johnson also asked for audience participation, with everyone in attendance instructed to yell. The audio will be put into the action-packed finale of the film.

Shazam! Fury of the Gods – December 12th, 2022

Stars Zachary Levi (Tangled), Asher Angel (Andi Mack), Jack Dylan Grazer (Luca), and Helen Mirren (The Nutcracker and the Four Realms) took the stage to introduce the first footage from the sequel to Shazam! Zachary Levi said that he was excited to play the character in the first film and the fact that it gets a sequel makes him feel extremely blessed. Helen Mirren, who plays a villain in the film, said that she had a lot of fun working with the boys, who talked about how their characters are approaching college in the film and struggling with what they want to do with their lives in addition to dealing with their powers.

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom – March 17th, 2023

Director James Wan talked about some of the visual effects innovations on the sequel, which includes a new type of performance capture technology that is more freeing for the actors that can also be applied to a computer-generated version of themselves for the many underwater sequences. Jason Momoa recorded a video message for attendees and a behind-the-scenes sizzle reel showcased some of the first shots from the film, many of which didn’t have finalized visual effects yet.

The Flash – June 23rd, 2023

The first footage was shown from the character’s first stand-alone film, which represents the first DC film that branches into its multiverse. The big takeaway was the appearance of Michael Keaton back in the cowl as Batman.

Wonka – December 15th, 2023

The musical prequel to Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory just finished production, but CinemaCon attendees were treated to the first footage from the film, which stars Timothée Chalamet in the title role. The montage was set to a song performed, at least in part, by Keegan-Michael Key about how incredible Wonka’s chocolate is. Among the clips, we saw young Wonka interacting with a character with orange skin (possibly an Oompa Loompa) and the character getting misty-eyed upon finding a message (seemingly from his mother) written on a gold piece of foil, delivered inside his own bar of chocolate.

Bonus: Dwayne Johnson Honored with the Entertainment Icon of the Decade Award

This article has presented the films in their release date order, but Dwayne Johnson’s appearance to promote League of Super-Pets and Black Adam was the finale of the presentation. The actor was surprised when, breaking script, Toby Emmerich returned to the stage to bestow Dwayne Johnson with an award: Entertainment Icon of the Decade. The star was humbled by the award, saying that he’s worked hard and got lucky and thanking CinemaCon for the honor.

Stay tuned to this week for more news out of CinemaCon.

Alex Reif
Alex joined the Laughing Place team in 2014 and has been a lifelong Disney fan. His main beats for LP are Disney-branded movies, TV shows, books, music and toys. He recently became a member of the Television Critics Association (TCA).