CinemaCon Recap: Disney Debuts Trailer for “Avatar: The Way of Water,” Footage from “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” and “Lightyear”

Disney’s CinemaCon showcase this year was 90-minutes long, about 70-minutes of which was spent debuting footage. Highlights included the first 15-minutes of Marvel’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, the first 30-minutes of Pixar’s Lightyear, the debut trailer for David O’Russell’s Amsterdam, the opening sequence and musical number from 20th Century Studios’ The Bob’s Burgers Movie, and the premiere of the first trailer for the first Avatar sequel, along with a title reveal: Avatar: The Way of Water. Hosted by Tony Chambers, EVP, Head of Theatrical Distribution, Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution, here is a recap of Disney’s 2022 CinemaCon presentation.



Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness – May 6th

Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige took the stage to share that he’s taking a break from the first Marvel Studios creative retreat in three years, at which he is planning the next decade of films from the studio. Marvel will deliver three films before the end of the year, starting with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness on May 6th. He reaffirmed that these films are made for the big screen, sharing that in the studio screening room, he always keeps a package of Twizzlers nearby because the rustle of a bag and the scent of candy creates the aura of being in a movie theater with an audience. He also plugged the 3D version of the film as being a spectacular experience.

The opening of the film packs an immediate punch, bringing audiences into the madness promised. Doctor Strange has been many places since the first film in 2016, aligning with the Avengers and Spider-Man in-between that film and this one. The first 15-minutes introduce America Chavez, fills us in on how Steven’s relationship with Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams) has evolved, and finds him reaching out to another magical friend, Wanda Maximoff, aka Scarlet Witch, with connections to WandaVision.

The Bob’s Burgers Movie – May 27th

Summer break is approaching fast and when a water main breaks and blocks the entrance to the family restaurant, the Belchers have to work hard to save Bob’s Burgers. The opening sequence was played, which includes a prologue that sets up the mystery, followed by a toe-tapping song that establishes all of the family members’ goals. A benefit of the Emmy-winning series getting a big-screen outing are the hilarious business names throughout town, which are easier to see due to the big screen and wider format.

Lightyear – June 17th

Chris Evans greeted CinemaCon attendees via a pre-recorded video introduction to the film. Pixar’s first film formatted for IMAX opens with a card that explains the premise: This is the movie upon which the Buzz Lightyear action figure was based. A galactic time travel adventure, many of Buzz Lightyear’s key phrases were delivered by Chris Evans in the character’s introduction, even some that weren’t featured on the action figure’s push-button, such as “You’re mocking me, aren’t you?” Heads up, Sox, the robotic cat, is a scene-stealer.

Amsterdam – November 4th

From director David O’Russell (Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle) comes this New Regency film distributed by 20th Century Studios. The all-star cast includes Christian Bale, Margot Robbie, Rami Malek, Zoe Saldaña, Mike Myers, Timothy Olyphant, Michael Shannon, Chris Rock, Anya Taylor-Joy, Taylor Swift, and Robert De Niro. A theme at CinemaCon this year, the film has been created with large-format theaters in mind. CinemaCon attendees were treated for the world premiere of the trailer.

Avatar: The Way of Water – December 16th

3D glasses were distributed for the premiere of the first trailer for Avatar 2, now officially called Avatar: The Way of Water. Producer Jon Landau flew in from New Zealand to introduce the trailer and talk a little about the future of the franchise. For starters, fans will be able to see the original Avatar back on the big screen on September 23rd, with remastered picture and sound to bring the groundbreaking film up to today’s exhibition standards. This will also allow viewers to return to Pandora in 3D, with Landau sharing that they’ve pushed the boundaries of what 3D can do even further with the next installment.

With four films on the horizon, Landau stated that the recurring theme is family, specifically following Jake Sully and Neytiri as their family grows. Each film promises to be its own self-contained story, but Landau said that when viewed together, they will also feel like a saga. Landau also brought along a video message from James Cameron, who said that in the same way that the first Avatar revolutionized filmmaking, the next film pushes 3D, HDR, high framerate, and visual effects even further. “We set off once again to push the limits of what cinema can do,” Cameron said.

The teaser trailer, which will be attached to Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness exclusively in theaters for one week before debuting online, showcases the beauty of Pandora. Establishing shots also feature the planet's watery world, first introduced in the attraction Avatar: Flight of Passage at Disney’s Animal Kingdom park at the Walt Disney World Resort. For audiences who fell in love with the themed land, this sequel promises to take you back to the land of floating mountains.

A Look Ahead at 2023

While Kevin Feige didn’t share one of those timeline images detailing the next phase of the MCU, Tony Chambers closed the presentation with a similar graphic for what’s on the horizon. Finishing off 2022 are Marvel’s Thor: Love and Thunder (July 8th) and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (November 11th), two films from Searchlight Pictures, The Banshees of Inisherin (October 21st) and The Menu (November 18th), and the next release from Walt Disney Animation Studios, Strange Worlds (November 23rd). Coming up in 2023 from Marvel Studios is The Marvels, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. Lucasfilm will bring Harrison Ford back to the big screen in a new Indiana Jones film. And from Disney, a live-action adaptation of The Little Mermaid and a new film inspired by The Haunted Mansion will draw families back to the theater.

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).