I've been to Sundance and I've been SxSW. I've hit my share of Cons, including the big kahuna down in San Diego. But as a true lover of movies — a seeker of that magical experience you only find on a big screen — my first CinemaCon took the cake.
With big names like Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence hitting center stage and 2016/17's most anticipated movies showing their hands for the first time, this was movie lover paradise. The big guns lined up to wow exhibitors with their massive slates, each studio taking no prisoners with must-write reveals and can't-miss footage.
At no other point — and in no other setting — can the unapologetic movie fan immerse so deeply in the tidal wave of titles set to slay box offices in 2016 and beyond.
It came as little surprise then that Disney's sleek presentation stole the show; and with little effort at that. The recipe for success? A full screening of the magnetic Captain America: Civil War and 27 minutes of the better-late-than-never Finding Dory, which was a real coup. The "let the product do the talking" approach was a theme overall at CinemaCon and made for more than just a big-picture-slate preview. The movie fans in the room — and there were quite a few, with exhibitors from across the globe — were treated to the good stuff. Namely, actual footage of more than a dozen anticipated mega-releases, ranging from charming animation to sweeping sci-fi.
With Vegas as the backdrop, CinemaCon is a celebration of the gaudy in cinema, yet without ignoring quality and character. Every studio presentation addressed indie fare deserving of a fighting chance across thousands of screens nationwide. And a fair share of "tentpoles with troubles" also earned their moment in the sun. Sony's oft-maligned Ghostbusters reboot pleased crowds, with the full star-studded cast and director Paul Feig hitting the stage.
Well worth the trip and easily the most movie-centric of the big industry benchmark conventions, CinemaCon just found a home near the top of my must-attend list next year. There's something to be said for a movie event that puts movies first. And when you cut through the plastic porcelain and scruffy day drinkers that dull the Vegas gleam, that's exactly what you're left with. It's a great time, and I'll be back whenever I can.