Cinemacon 2016: STX presentation shows off Free State of Jones & more!
STX is a new studio that made its inaugural debut here at Cinemacon, showcasing their upcoming slate films, which are marketed as mid-budget, talent-driven films that don't rely on franchise or tentpole status to be a viable option at the theater. While I went into the STX presentation not expecting too much, I walked out really surprised and please with what they had to offer. They showcased some truly great looking flicks, be it heavy dramatic fare, crazy comedies, or action thrillers. You can check out my post presentation thoughts above and read my write up below.
FREE STATE OF JONES
Matthew McConaughey stars in this true life story about the controversial figure Newton Knight, who rebelled against the Confederacy during the Civil War, creating a "free state" in the otherwise slavery-induced region of Mississippi. We already know that McConaughey is a phenomenal actor and his talents are front and center in the footage we saw here. In an extended sequence we see McConaughey's Newton attempt to bring a young Confederate Soldier over to his side and escape Confederate service during a battle. Things go wrong and McConaughey is suddenly on a desperate run to save the Soldier's life. Even in the short span of footage we saw it was obvious that this was going to be a serious gut punch and performance-driven film that will more than likely see McConaughey back in Oscar race come the end of the year. Looks great. THE FREE STATE OF JONES opens on June 24th, 2016.
THE SPACE BETWEEN US
I had heard very little about this one past the initial announcement, but seeing it previewed here really brings it home. Asa Butterfield stars as a child born on a now-colonized Mars, who is subjected to physical ailments due to his body being born in another atmosphere. 16 years after his birth he comes to Earth, having known only a handful of people his whole life. It's a really great fish-out-of-water type story that also wraps in a romantic aspect with TOMORROWLAND'S Britt Robertson and you can't help but get a wave of feels as Butterfield navigates his "new world" and is faced with the very real possibility of having to go back to Mars just to live. Co-starring Gary Oldman, Carla Gugino, and BD Wong, this looks like a really engaging and emotional film with a lot of heart and some solid talent onboard. Definitely one to keep your eye on. THE SPACE BETWEEN US opens on August 19, 2016.
THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN
The more I think about this one, the more hyped I get to see it. Sold as a kind of "modern-day John Hughes" type of film, THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN stars Hailee Steinfeld as a teenager struggling with all the usual stuff teenagers deal with; sex, love, friendships, jealousy, parents, etc. The film is presented with a genuine heart and some genuine comedy, rather than your typical slapstick or high-concept formula that typically follows the modern day coming-of-age genre. It's also not deeply serious to the point of melodrama and looks to feature some great performances from the supporting cast, including Woody Harrelson, Kyra Sedgwick, and newcomer Haley Lu Richardson. Veteran director (and producer here) James L. Brooks' influence can be felt here, as he is one of the masters of the dramedy. This could serve Steinfeld really well, too, and serve her core audience with some material worth her caliber, rather than stuff like BARELY LETHAL. THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN opens on September 30, 2016.
BYE BYE MAN
I'm just not a huge horror guy (hey, we have an entire branch of the site dedicated to the genre), but I appreciate the intent to recapture the "boogeyman" horror villain in a new series, this time in the form of the BYE-BYE MAN. These films usually just breeze past my radar and this will likely do the same, but it looks fun enough for fans of the genre. I'll leave you to decide for yourself. BYE BYE MAN opens on June 3, 2016.
This one just isn't doing much for me. Directed and produced by the duo of Jonás Cuarón and Alfonso Cuarón, DESIERTO stars Gael García Bernal and
Negan Jeffrey Dean Morgan with Bernal playing an immigrant trying to sneak into the U.S. and Negan playing a racist man who takes Border Patrol into his own murderous hands. It feels more like an anti-Trump fantasy film to me, but maybe I'm just reading too much into the silliness and it's meant to be a cheesy B-Movie. If I'm supposed to take it seriously, that's just not happening. However, I'm happy to eat my words if it proves to be an effective thriller. I won't hold my breath, though. DESIERTO opens sometime in 2016.
This was just an announcement for STX, but they are also dipping their toe in the animated market with an adaptation of the popular toy line of UGLY DOLLS. It's hard to say what the tone will be, but, hey, I love those Ugly bastards, so I'm hip to them taking a crack at it.
This was another one that has evaded my radar, although I was aware of it being made. Director Martin Campbell looks to be doing more CASINO ROYALE than GREEN LANTERN with THE FOREIGNER, which pits a more dramatic and older Jackie Chan against an Irish mobster (Pierce Brosnan) in an attempt to get revenge on the men who planted explosives that killed his family. Rather than jumping over buildings and kicking the shit out of everyone the whole time, Chan looks to be giving a genuinely dramatic and real portrayal and Brosnan as the villain pretending not to be a villain is a nice change of pace for the actor. The action looks grounded and thrilling and this may well end up being a nice entry to the action thriller genre. THE FOREIGNER is set to open sometime this year.
In what looks to be a HANGOVER for the ladies, BAD MOMS has a killer cast of gifted actresses that know the comedy genre well; Mila Kunis, Christina Applegate, Kristen Bell, and Kathryn Hahn are joined by Jada Pinkett Smith in her first R-rated comedy (also: Kesha), which looks like...well, a blast. Comedy is a tough market for mass appeal, but I'm a sucker for a good raunchy comedy that pushes the limits and makes you squirm. While I may not be the target demographic for this one and it's likely it will be the Girls-Night-Out movie of the year, I think it's great to see these ladies branch out and dive into the hard-R comedy genre. If you get dragged to this one I think there's a good chance you'll end up being glad you were. BAD MOMS hits theaters on July 29, 2016.
And that's it for STX! Overall, I was genuinely impressed with their line-up. If they stay on this track (and these films deliver on their promise) then this very well could be a studio to watch out for, especially when you're looking for something that's not a remake, franchise, or sequel. Time will tell.
See more of our Cinemacon 2016 coverage HERE!
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