Sony film executive Tom Rothman took a moment during his studio’s CinemaCon presentation on Monday night to nod to a new NRG study that examines Hollywood’s hottest movie stars.
Rothman explained that if the experts are to be believed, “moving stars don’t matter anymore,” adding that he really hopes “all my competitors believe that shit,” because he emphatically disagrees. “Real movie stars are more important than ever,” Rothman said. “They are just rarer than ever. Streaming doesn’t create movie stars, only global hits.”
The veteran studio chief used the hot topic as a way to wrap up the presentation’s surprise awards ceremony — a lifetime achievement award — presented to Denzel Washington. It was no coincidence, as Rothman explained that over the course of his own career spanning more than 30 years, he has worked on 12 films with Washington, either as an actor or as a filmmaker with another, The equalizer 3, coming this fall. “I’ve never seen him strike a false note and neither should you,” praised Rothman. “Denzel is a supernatural, enduring, iconic talent.”
Rothman then welcomed someone else with a long history to Washington, Antoine Fuqua, to present the trophy to his longtime collaborator with whom he made the studio’s forthcoming sequel. Noting Washington’s two Oscar wins and nine nominations, Fuqua also praised his friend’s skill for playing characters with a “sense of dignity and honor and morals.”
Washington then took the stage in a large crowd in the Colosseum at Caesars Palace and was promptly greeted with an enthusiastic standing ovation. He responded by flashing that megawatt smile of a movie star. “We would be nothing without all of you. There’s no point in what we’re doing if you’re not there, without your houses,” said the actor. “We are here for you, thanks to you and we thank you. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I am immeasurably blessed.”
Washington then welcomed his Equalizer 3 co-star Dakota Fanning took the stage and the trio then introduced the debut of the first trailer for the film. The title from Columbia Pictures is due in theaters September 1 and follows Washington and Fuqua outings in 2001 Training dayyears 2014 The equalizer and that of 2018 The equalizer 2. It also reunites Washington with Fanning, who he played with Man on fire.
Directed by Fuqua from a script by Richard Wenk, The equalizer franchise is based on the TV series created by Michael Sloan and Richard Lindheim.
Washington tops Robert McCall, who has given up his life as a government assassin. Struggling to atone for the horrific things he’s done in the past and finding a strange solace in serving justice on behalf of the downtrodden, he surprisingly feels at home in southern Italy. “Because of these people,” Washington says in the trailer, “I understand true peace. I’m starting to believe this is where I’m supposed to be.”
However, his satisfaction is shattered when he discovers that his new friends are under the control of local crime bosses. Fans of the franchise will be pleased to hear that Washington’s McCall is back in action in brutal and gory ways. When the trailer ended there was a generous round of applause and this kicker quote from Rothman: “You can see with Sony, we ain’t messing around.”
CinemaCon, the official convention of the National Association of Theater Owners, will be held April 24-27 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.