CinemaCon 2023 Recap: Sony Showcases 14 Minutes of “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” and Confirms R-Rating for “Kraven the Hunter”

Once again, Sony Pictures kicked off CinemaCon with a look at the films they expect to deliver box office results over the next year. What felt different this year, however, was the response of the National Association of Theatre Owners, who typically went wild for the only major studio without its own streaming service (a fact that president Josh Greenstein bragged about again). Perhaps it's because all of the other studios have reaffirmed their commitment to theatrical exclusivity windows, or maybe it was the choice to open the show with a video message from Will Smith and Martin Lawrence on the set of Bad Boys 4 bragging about how they don’t have to be there, but the overall response to Sony’s show felt lukewarm. Add to that a delayed start and multiple celebrities cracking jokes about the bad teleprompter script, and Sony’s presentation lacked the polish and pizzazz you expect from the introduction to four days of entertainment overload.

While Sony aims to distribute 23 films in 2023, at CinemaCon, they showcased 11 titles, one of which may not be coming this year. Adding to the clunky flow of the presentation was the decision to end the show not with Denzel Washington’s surprise Lifetime Achievement Award, but with footage from a streaming film (Apple TV+’s Napoleon) that will receive a theatrical release window distributed by Sony. For ease of use, this recap goes in order of film theatrical release date rather than the order in which they appeared in Sony’s presentation.

The Machine – May 26th

Produced by Legendary Pictures and distributed by Sony, this R-rated comedy transforms comedian Bert Kreischer’s stand-up comedy set about the time he spent with Russian mobsters. In a new ad that debuted at CinemaCon, Bert Kreischer dresses as Ariel from The Little Mermaid and makes splashy puns about his comedy that’s about as unlike Disney’s upcoming live-action fantasy film, which hits theaters on the same day.

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse – June 2nd

Last year, writers and producers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller showcased a work-in-progress version of the first 15 minutes of the long-awaited sequel to Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse. This year, Sony Pictures Animation President Kristine Belson introduced co-director Kemp Powers who briefly touched on joining the project after the release of Pixar’s Soul, which he also co-directed. He was joined by three members of the voice cast (Shameik Moore, Hailee Steinfeld, and Issa Rae), who introduced the next 14-minutes of the film. So, in total, CinemaCon attendees have seen the first 29-minutes of the film. The presentation did not, however, reveal anything about the second part of the film (the story is split across two films).

No Hard Feelings – June 23rd

Jennifer Lawrence was in attendance to promote her first R-rated comedy, joined by writer/director Gene Stupnitsky. The story was inspired by a Craigslist ad a parent placed in search of a sex worker to help their son graduate high school without his virginity. We were shown a clip in which Jennifer Lawrence, as that hired hand, tries to pick up Andrew Feldman at the animal rescue shelter he volunteers at.

Insidious: Red Door – July 7th

The fifth and final film in the Insidious franchise reunites the original cast, with Patrick Wilson also making his directorial debut. CinemaCon attendees saw a newly cut sizzle of terrifying images from The Further.

Gran Turismo – August 11th

Head of PlayStation Productions, Asad Qizilbash, reminded attendees of the box office success of Uncharted before pitching the next video game to make the leap to the big screen. Stars David Harbor and Orlando Bloom were in attendance to share their own surprise at being pitched a film based on a racing simulator game, but how they fell in love with the project because it’s based on a true story. The two actors play characters who work with a group of avid Gran Turismo to turn one of them into a real racecar driver. The trailer debuted at CinemaCon and will be attached to movies in theaters soon.

The Equalizer 3 – September 1st

Rather than diving right into promotion for The Equalizer 3, Columbia Pictures president Sanford Panitch reiterated the importance of the movie star and added that he’s made 12 films with Denzel Washington. Filmmaker Antoine Fuqua, who directed all three Equalizer films, took the stage to present Denzel Washington with the CinemaCon Lifetime Achievement Award. The award was accompanied by a sizzle reel of highlights from Denzel Washington’s illustrious career, including clips from Remember the TItans and Crimson Tide. Dakota Fanning also joined her Equalizer 3 costars on stage in a brief plug for the film.

Kraven the Hunter – October 6th

Next in Sony’s live-action series of films centered around Spider-Man villains is Kraven the Hunter, which is confirmed to be rated R. Star Aaron Taylor Johnson gave a pre-recorded video introduction to the first footage shown from the film, which also stars Russel Crowe and Ariana DeBose.

Dumb Money – October 20th

Sony actually launched their presentation with Dumb Money, based on the true story of one young man who influenced the stock price of Game Stop. Director Craig Gillespie (Cruella) was joined by star Paul Dano, who plays Keith Gill, aka Roaring Kitty. Rather than a trailer, attendees were treated to the opening sequence of the film, which introduced many of its recognizable actors, including Seth Rogen, Nick Offerman, America Ferrera, and Pete Davidson.

Napoleon – November 22nd

From Apple Originals, Napoleon is Ridley Scott’s biopic of Napoleon Bonaparte, starring Joaquin Phoenix as the legendary military general. Sanford Panitch promised that this film was made to be seen on the big screen, which is why Apple has partnered with Sony to give the title an exclusive theatrical release this Thanksgiving. Rather than a trailer, attendees were shown a bloody battle scene set on a frozen lake.

Untitled Ghostbusters: Afterlife Sequel – December 20th

Jason Reitman reminded CinemaCon that they were the first audience to see Ghostbusters: Afterlife in a video greeting alongside Gil Kenan recorded in front of the Ecto-1. As the camera panned back, we were introduced to returning stars Paul Rudd, Carrie Coon, Finn Wolfhard, and Mckenna Grace. In the sequel, the newfound family heads to New York City to carry on the Ghostbusters tradition.

Anyone But You – TBD

Glen Powell and Sydney Sweeney literally just returned from filming this romantic comedy in Australia, giving audiences a sizzle reel of footage from the opposites attract story. No release date was given, and the stars spent most of their time on stage reminding everyone that Glen Powell was in Top Gun: Maverick (a Paramount film).

And that’s a wrap on Sony! 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).