BARCELONA, Spain - The competition among Hollywood studios here at CineEurope to grab European exhibitor eyeballs and spark enthusiasm for upcoming releases gathered pace Tuesday as Universal Pictures International got in on the act.
UPI executive vp Simon Hewlett, introducing Universal's slate of upcoming releases through 2013, joked that his "was the other studio here claiming to be 100 years old."
Referencing Paramount Pictures' 100 year anniversary and that studio's show reel and slate from CineEurope on Monday, Hewlett mused that it was probably the first time a Hollywood pair had ever argued about wanting to be 100.
"It's unique that two parties in Hollywood are arguing about who's older," Hewlett said. "Well we're both 100 and both look good on it."
Hewlett's varied slate of upcoming actioners, comedy, romantic comedies and drama drew a positive response from the gathered European exhibition crowd with a brace of Working Title productions heavily touted.
The big-screen adaptation of worldwide stage musical smash Les Miserables, directed by Oscar winner Tom Hooper starring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway, and a trailer for Joe Wright's upcoming literary epic Anna Karenina drew applause from the hard-nosed exhibitors.
And Hewlett also noted that test audience results for Seth MacFarlane's big screen debut Ted, starring a giant talking teddy and Mark Wahlberg, were "the best test results for any Universal comedy ever" in territories including Germany and France. "We wanted to see if the jokes would work in other [non-English language] territories," Hewlett said.
Other highlights for the audience included very early footage and rough cuts of R.I.P.D., starring Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges, the Keanu Reaves actioner 47 Ronin and Tom Cruise and Morgan Freeman headlining in sci-fi thriller Oblivion.
And there were more jokes on screen as well as on stage as exhibitors also got a taste of Judd Apatow's "sort of sequel" to Knocked Up called This Is 40 and Despicable Me 2, for which the teaser trailer has already gone viral with more than 31 million views.
Hewlett also promised a return to the driving seat for "all the original cast" for the sixth outing of Fast and Furious, "which will mean a few surprises" for the Justin Lin directed installment, he said.
Universal's slick presentation and show reel ended on a slight downer for the gathered exhibitors. Filmmaker Oliver Stone did not make it to the Catalan city to present the early bird screening of his latest film Savages, starring Aaron Johnson, Taylor Kitsch and Blake Lively.
But the filmmaker did send a video tape apologizing for not making it to town. "I can do something better, I can send my new film for you to look at," Stone said.