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At some conventions and industry get-togethers, people will arbitrarily claim that they’ve "won" the day, or weekend, or con. Whether they’re for regular fans or industry folks, it’s crucial to have the buzz that comes from fueling your presentation with a little extra. And judging by the recent CinemaCon, which hosted the premieres of several snippets of new footage from hotly-anticipated releases, the fest’s surprising big winner was Million Dollar Arm.
Deadline reveals that Disney’s modest summer release screened for industry folks and exhibitors yesterday and completely stole the show. The drama, starring Jon Hamm as a disgraced sports agent, focuses on the true life tale of two Indian cricket players who came to America to become major league pitchers in baseball. One of studio chairman Alan Horn’s most eyebrow-raising comments, however, was that he claimed Million Dollar Arm was the highest-testing film he’s ever shown to early audiences at either Disney or his former employer Warner Bros. The 71 year old Horn hasn’t really been around that long as the head of Disney, though he claims the testing for this drama was above even the first Harry Potter.
Disney’s three hour presentation was robust, centering on talk of Guardians Of The Galaxy, Maleficent, Avengers: Age Of Ultron, Star Wars Episode VII, Cinderella, Big Hero 6 and Pixar’s Inside Out. But a full screening of the Craig Gillespie-directed, Tom McCarthy-penned film was the clear standout amongst attendees. Horn goosed up the crowd by awarding the (honestly made-up sounding) Excellence In Acting award to Jon Hamm for his performance in the film, allowing the charming Hamm to amuse the audience with jokes about Frozen 2. There are worse ways to work a room.
Of course, testing doesn’t really mean much if you can’t get the film out there, and the picture’s got a very low profile a little more than a month before release. Opening on May 16th, the Disney release is very much the smaller movie when compared to Warner Bros.’ Godzilla. The lizard monster romp, which stars Hamm’s AMC mate Bryan Cranston, looked a little shaky until it revealed its own furniture-rattling trailer, suggesting it could become one of the summer’s biggest hits. It’s got one week to have that decent opening: on May 23rd, Fox unleashes X-Men: Days Of Future Past and Warner Bros. puts out the Adam Sandler comedy Blended, creating a potential box office logjam. The best move is to cut a new trailer. The one seen below, which gets bogged down in the specifics of the premise, doesn’t feel like a must-watch movie. What do you think?