CinemaCon 2024 Recap: Disney Showcases 2024/25 Film Slate (Plus Footage Descriptions)

The Walt Disney Company closed out CinemaCon 2024 with a close look at the upcoming film slate from Walt Disney Studios, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar Animation Studios, Marvel Studios, 20th Century Studios, and Searchlight Pictures. During the two-hour presentation, attendees were treated to 75 minutes worth of footage. And the fun truly began with a display of Coca-Cola bottled beverages from the brand-new Marvel Studios partnership.

Fittingly, Marvel Studios also opened up the showcase with a “Silence Your Cellphones” video themed to Deadpool and Wolverine, It featured Ryan Reynolds and Hugh Jackman in character, being distracted by a phone ringing in the audience. Like the R-rated superhero comedy itself, the promo was full of expletives, which are all censored. And while the tease was CinemaCon branded at the end, it felt designed to play in general movie theaters. This gave way to a sizzle reel that mostly highlighted the films that were part of the showcase, although it did include one moment of Gal Gadot as the Evil Queen from the upcoming live-action adaptation of Snow White, which was otherwise not plugged during the event.

Alan Bergman, co-chairman of Disney Entertainment, kicked things off with a graphic highlighting the rest of this year’s film slate. He introduced Tony Chambers, executive vice president and head of theatrical distribution, who introduced nine minutes of footage from the next theatrical release on the schedule, Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes from 20th Century Studios.

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes Footage Description

Skip the italicized text if you don’t want any spoilers!!!

A large eagle flies through a valley of reclaimed skyscrapers, passing one where three apes – Noa (Owen Teague), Soona (Lydia Peckham), and Anaya (Travis Jeffery) – climb up to an eagle’s nest. It appears to be a right of passage for apes to take an egg and raise it, but the trouble is that there are three eggs and three apes, and a conservation rule that they always leave one behind. Soona and Anya are quick to grab an egg, leaving Noa without one. When he hears another eagle on a nearby skyscraper, Noa makes a risky leap to get to another nest with four eggs. As he reaches for one, the mother comes back, and he has to make a run for it. The cement and rebar supports begin to give way, and Soona and Anya rush to save their brother, who manages to grapes the last beam before a deathly fall. Somehow, Noa also saved his egg. They ride horses back to their village, where Noa’s father, Koro (Neil Sandilands), warns of dangers beyond their village. Jumping forward in time, Noa’s village is attacked and burned. He wakes up under the ashes of his home to find his father dead and his sisters missing. After burying Koro, Noa ventures out with his father’s metal staff as a weapon to find his sisters and seek vengeance on the head of the clan that destroyed his world, Proximus Caesar (Kevin Durand). He follows footprints to an old railroad tunnel, riding his horse through it. In a sizzle of more footage, we see Noa rescuing a human woman, Nova (Freya Allan), and aided by an orangutan named Raka (Peter Macon) leading up to his face-off with Proximus Caesar.

Coming May 31st to select theaters, Disney’s Young Woman and the Sea tells the true story of Trudy Ederle (Daisy Ridley), the first woman to swim the English Channel successfully. The trailer was played, preceded by a short pre-recorded video introduction from producer Jerry Bruckheimer, who said it’s the highest-rated movie of his career from test audiences.

The first celebrity of the presentation was Amy Poehler, voice of Joy in Pixar’s Inside Out and the upcoming sequel, Inside Out 2, coming June 14th. We were treated to the first 30 minutes of the film without interruption, and it was interesting to see that Disney is continuing to use the Disney100 version of the studio castle intro, but without the “100″ in the logo.

Inside Out 2 Footage Description

Skip the italicized text if you don’t want any spoilers!!!

The film opens with Riley (Kensington Tallman) playing in a hockey game, with her emotions – Joy, Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Anger (Lewis Black), Fear (Tony Hale), and Disgust (Liza Lapira) – each playing a key role to reintroduce themselves. Joy fills us in on Riley’s life since the first film, introducing her best friends and hockey teammates, Grace (Grace Lu) and Bree (Sumayyah Nuriddin-Green). A scout, Coach Roberts (Yvette Nicole Brown), approaches after the game and invites them to a three-week hockey camp that could help them get on the high school hockey team when school starts.

There’ve been some changes inside Riley’s mind. Her islands have changed, with Friends Island now much bigger than Family Island. And the control room now has what looks like a fiberoptic flower, the result of Riley developing a belief system. This is fed by a pool below the control room, with Joy plucking special memories and delivering them to the pool, causing a new strand to attach that represents a new belief. We also get to see where the emotions go to sleep, which is where you’ll find the Pizza Planet Truck Easter Egg in this film (and Riley’s bedroom has a poster of her favorite boy band, 4*TOWN). Joy has also concocted an automatic catapult through which she can take troublesome memories from the day and launch them to the back of Riley’s mind before sending the rest to long-term memory.

The night before camp is the night when Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust are awoken by an alarm marked “puberty.” They rip it off the console and launch it into the back of Riley’s mind just as a wrecking crew comes in and swaps out Riley’s console. When Riley wakes up, the emotions find the new console to be so touchy that merely tapping a button causes Riley to overreact to her parents (Diane Lane and Kyle MacLachlan). And when the console turns orange, the original emotions meet Anxiety (Maya Hawke), Envy (Ayo Edebiri), Ennui (Adèle Exarchopoulos), and Embarrassment (Paul Walter Hauser).

During the car ride to camp, Riley learns that Grace and Bree have been assigned to a different high school, so these three days will be their last time being on the same hockey team. As they arrive, Anxiety takes control as Riley meets her high school hockey idol, Valentina “Val” Orti (Lilimar), and the other new emotions have a go at the controls, too. Joy, used to being the leader of Riley’s mind, quickly finds that Anxiety has a greater need to steer, capable of forecasting possible outcomes of every situation. As Anxiety steers Riley towards an alliance with Val that will abandon her friends, Anxiety, and Joy begin to argue over Riley’s belief flower, which accidentally gets launched to the back of Riley’s mind. Anxiety puts an orange memory in the waters of Riley’s belief system, and a sharper orange plant begins to grow in its place. As Joy tries to object, she and the original emotions are placed in a jar and taken to a vault. Inside, they meet a character from a preschool show they wanted Riley to forget about, a useless video game character Riley had a crush on, and a mysterious being known as the “Deep Dark Secret.” They leverage these acquaintances to take part in a prison break.

Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige shared that Fantastic Four begins filming next month and also teased that Thunderbolts* is currently filming and that the asterisk in the title will make sense when everyone sees the film. Florence Pugh sent a video from the set, eating spicy mac and cheese.

Anthony Mackie was the lone Marvel star to take the stage, reprising his role as Sam Wilson in Captain America: Brave New World, who introduced a footage reel.

Captain America: Brave New World Footage Description

Skip the italicized text if you don’t want any spoilers!!!

Sam Wilson meets the President of the United States, Thaddeus Ross (Harrison Ford), who congratulates him on his work in Mexico. Thaddeus asks Sam to build a new Avengers team. Sam asks what happens if this new team of Avengers disagrees with an order he gives.

In another scene, the President stands in the middle of a dark room, a protective barrier of glass separating him from everyone else. Sam is present as the President discusses the successful mission in Mexico that Sam and Joaquin Torres (Danny Ramirez) carried out. During the meeting, the speakers are taken over by distorted music from the 1940s. It triggers another attendee, Isaiah Bradley (Carl Lumbly), who suddenly rises and carries out an unseen order to attack the president. He overpowers a guard and uses his gun to break the glass as Ross is rushed out of the room. Sam chases Isaiah, who escapes by leaping out of a window.

“You’re not Steve Rogers,” Ross tells Sam from off-screen. “You’re right, I’m not,” Sam replies. We see him from the back in his Captain America uniform, and as Sam replies, he extends his Falcon wings.

Deadpool & Wolverine director, writer, and producer Shawn Levy joined Feige on stage to introduce nine minutes of footage from Marvel Studios’ first R-rated film (and to celebrate this fact, both Shawn and Kevin dropped a few “F-bombs” while talking about it).

Deadpool & Wolverine Footage Description

Skip the italicized text if you don’t want any spoilers!!!

Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) is trying to live a normal life, stapling a wig to his head and working as a used car salesman alongside his friend, Peter (Rob Delaney). Peter wants to suit up and have some vigilante fun occasionally, but Wade refuses to return to his alter ego, Deadpool. Returning home from work, Wade finds the apartment full of his friends for a surprise birthday party. Many of the jokes break the fourth wall, including Wade and Blind Al (Leslie Uggams), talking about how Disney won’t let them do cocaine and rattling off the drug’s many nicknames. Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) is there, and Wade learns that she is dating a man she works with. A knock at the door interrupts the party.

The Time Variance Authority (TVA) brings Wade to headquarters, where he meets Mr. Paradox (Matthew Macfadyen), who tells Wade he’s needed to help keep a timeline in order. He is shown TV monitors with footage of other Avengers, including Steve Rogers’ Captain America (Chris Evans) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) seemingly crying over a dead Deadpool. After declaring himself “Marvel Jesus,” Wade is taken to a touchy-feely tailor who outfits him in a new Deadpool suit. This gave way to a sizzle reel of footage from the current trailer, as well as a few additional shots, including a Deadpool dog. We didn’t see much of Hugh Jackman as Wolverine beyond a moment where Deadpool teases him about his costume’s colors.

With Marvel’s portion of the presentation over, Tony Chambers resumed his hosting duties. From 20th Century Studios, Alien: Romulus comes to theaters on August 16th from writer/director Fede Alvarez and producer Ridley Scott, both of whom recorded an introduction to a reel of footage.

Alien: Romulus Footage Description

Skip the italicized text if you don’t want any spoilers!!!

Rain Carradine (Cailee Spaeny) and her friend (Aileen Wu) are trying to get a door open on the space station. Several men and an android are stuck in the room, which has a few feet of water on the floor. Rain finds a broken android and takes its microchip to the door, hoping she can use it to get it open, while her friend picks up a handheld X-ray device and tests it on her arm, seeing her bone and veins through her skin. Rain passes the chip through a crack in the door to Bryan (Archie Renaux) and Tyler (Spike Fearn), who plug it into the android Andy (David Jonsson), who powers down for a few minutes to reboot. Meanwhile, the incubators seem to be bubbling. Face huggers fall out into the water, and soon Tyler is pulled down. Andy reboots (his neck twitching as a possible homage to Sigourney Weaver’s animatronic from ‘The Great Movie Ride’) just in time to open the door so they can all run out, but one face hugger gets out with them. And shortly after, the rest break through the sealed door. Rain’s friend ends up getting attacked in the face by a face hugger.

Jumping forward, Kay (Isabela Merced) is in a section of the space station with Aileen Wu’s character, who is in a panic. She closes the door and detaches it from the space station, causing it to start to drift away. Kay doesn’t understand what’s happening as her friend clutches her chest. She grabs the X-ray device and puts it behind her back. Kay can see a dark mass wiggling around underneath her friend’s ribs. She collapses on the floor, and Kay holds her, trying to comfort her friend as she foams at the mouth. And then Kay watches in horror as her friend’s chest begins to break apart, a creature breaking out of the cavity…

Searchlight Pictures celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, and Tony Chambers briefly mentioned two titles, A Real Pain and Nightbitch, before shifting his attention to the next collaboration between director Yorgos Lanthimos and star/producer Emma Stone, Kinds of Kindness. The film will premiere next month at the Cannes Film Festival ahead of its June 21st theatrical release. The recently released teaser trailer was played on the big screen.

Casting news was revealed for Ella McCay from writer/director James L. Brooks (The Simpsons, Terms of Endearment, As Good as It Gets). The cast includes Emma Mackey, Jamie Lee Curtis, Woody Harrelson, Kumail Nanjiani, Jack Lowden, Ayo Edebiri, Spike Fearn, and Rebecca Hall.

Looking farther out to a year from now, 20th Century Studios’ The Amateur is scheduled to be released on April 11th, 2025. CinemaCon attendees were treated to what felt like a teaser trailer for the espionage thriller from James Hawes, which stars Rami Malek as a surveillance expert. When a terrorist attack kills his wife, he vows to use his technical know-how to take vengeance on her attackers.

The opening sizzle included a few shots from Mufasa: The Lion King, all of which was repeated when director Barry Jenkins took the stage. But first, the Oscar-winning Moonlight director explained what the 1994 animated classic The Lion King meant to him. When he was 14, he found himself living with his older sister, who two young children that were often left in her care. The only movie that would capture their attention was a VHS tape of The Lion King, with Barry estimating that he’s seen that film more than 200 times. So when the project was proposed to him, he was easily able to identify with the story of two brothers who go from cubs to adults.

Mufasa: The Lion King will be released on December 20th, and the film is still in production. CinemaCon attendees were shown a very brief cut of a teaser trailer. In Barry Jenkins’ introduction to the footage, he shared that he’s unable to reveal who wrote the music, but confirmed it will have new songs. He also described Mufasa as not being born into royalty, which could deepen Scar’s jealousy that his brother becomes king, although my first thought is that it upsets the scene in The Lion King when Mufasa tells Simba the stars are the great kings of the past.

The footage looked exactly like the 2019 film. Shots of lions on snowcapped mountains were the most visually different from the first film, while young Mufasa and Scar look a lot like young Simba, and a sequence of the cubs jumping on the backs of hippos in a river looked like it was plucked directly out of the “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King” sequence. Footage also showed an elephant stampede, a moment that likely gives Scar his future idea for the wildebeest stampede that kills Mufasa (if you haven’t seen either version of The Lion King by now, that’s on you). Music-wise, the footage was set to a song that included elements of “Circle of Life,” but definitely wasn’t a remake (like “Cold Heart” compared to “Rocket Man”). Barry Jenkins teased that other characters from The Lion King are in the film, and the footage also depicted younger versions of Rafiki and Zazu, plus Timon and Pumbaa.

The showcase fittingly closed with the studio that started it all, Walt Disney Animation Studios. On November 11th, Moana and audiences will return to Motunui in Moana 2. Polynesian drummers and dancers from Tiana Liufau’s Nonasina took the stage, introducing a surprise special guest.

Maui himself, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, joined the performance. He then spoke about how much this role has meant to him, not only because it depicts his ancestral culture, which he literally wears on his sleeves via his tattoos, but also because Disney used his grandfather, Chief Peter Maivia, as the physical inspiration for the shape-shifting demigod. Johnson teased that the film features all new songs (“You’re Welcome,” he jokingly sang).

Tony Chambers returned to the stage with National Association of Theatre Owners Chairman Bob Babgby to present Dwayne Johnson with the NATO Spirit of the Industry Award, the second recipient of this title after Christopher Nolan. We then got to see a special sneak peek of Moana 2.

Moana 2 Footage Description

Skip the italicized text if you don’t want any spoilers!!!

Moana sails the seas with her pet pig Pua and unintentional pet chicken Hei Hei keeping her company. The sequence felt like the opening of the film, with Moana singing about sailing home to Motunui. The song transfers to the island, where Moana’s parents and villagers await her return. New, unnamed characters are introduced, including a young woman who seems inspired by Moana’s sailing spirit, and a man who loves teaching kids about their princess and her adventures with Maui. As Moana gets closer, her dad is so excited to see her that he overcomes his fears and sails past the reef to meet her.

In a sizzle of additional clips, we saw Maona back in the alcove hidden behind the waterfall where she found the ships in the first film. She uses a torch to examine a stone carving in the rock wall, which depicts a human on a boat. She bangs the drum Gramma Tala told her to hit in the first film, and hears a drumming back, but it ends up being Hei Hei. We see Moana sailing off on another adventure, and a brief shot of kakamora. And in a voice-over, we hear Gramma Tala’s spirit saying “I don’t know where your path will lead, but we never stop choosing who we are.”

Final Assessment

After three days of back-to-back studio showcases at CinemaCon, Disney had the unenviable task of closing out the showcase for movie theater exhibitors. All of the studios that presented have a pretty impressive slate this year, but so, too, does Disney. Disney’s schedule is largely dependent on audiences returning to theaters for established franchises at a time when audiences are craving new, original content. In that regard, Disney has left the door wide open for other studios to nab those hungry moviegoers with more robust slates full of original content.

From Disney, Deadpool & Wolverine stands out as the highlight of the slate, pulling in fans of the first two films who may have otherwise lost interest in the MCU. This could help bolster the upcoming slate of Marvel Studios films, with Captain America: Brave New World facing the same barriers to entry that plagued The Marvels (Knowledge of all previous Captain America and Avengers films feel like a prerequisite in addition to The Falcon and The Winter Soldier). But with Captain America teased in the Deadpool & Wolverine trailer, a potential connection to Brave New World could help reinvigorate interest in this phase of the MCU.

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes feels destined to surpass audience and critic expectations, and will likely have a long run if the rest of the film is as good as what was screened at CinemaCon, since word of mouth will be strong. Pixar seems poised to continue their upward trend at the box office with Inside Out 2, which not only calls back a built-in audience from the film that made “core memory” a common phrase but also seems like it has a deeply meaningful payoff. While based on an established franchise, Alien: Romulus feels like prior exposure to an Alien film is unnecessary, which should help it attract horror fans, since it’s truly a jump-scare fest with some inventive twists on the formula.

It’s probably too early to judge Mufasa: The Lion King and Moana 2. Mufasa gets added clout with an Oscar-winning director at the helm, but we’ve seen previous sequels of live-action adaptations flop (Alice Through the Looking Glass, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil), and despite making a lot of money in 2019, the live-action adaptation of The Lion King has largely been viewed as sucking the charm and fun out of the animated classic. In a world that’s all about history repeating itself (“Circle of Life”), the film will need to do something special to stand apart from its predecessor and keep audiences coming back past its initial presumably successful weekend. My concerns that Moana 2 is a last-minute repackaging of the previously in-production Disney+ animated series were not quelled by the footage shown. The opening song felt nowhere near the quality of the original film’s music, but I hope it will ultimately surprise me. It doesn’t need to be great to have a splashy opening weekend, but in hopes that Walt Disney Animation Studios maintains its top spot in the animation industry, I’m hoping the original film’s quality standards can be maintained.

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).