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“Cinema audiences are returning to your theaters in droves. I wish verité was having a renaissance to. But this is a tough time. We have big untruths, like Ukraine doesn’t exist except as part of Russia, or Trump won the 2020 elections,” he said, taking a swipe at U.S. House Minority Leader for backtracking on recorded comments. “I heard you, Kevin McCarthy. You said it.”
The Big Screen Achievement awards closed out the annual confab, which celebrated the return of movies and moviegoers after a Covid drought and previewed what’s coming.
“I’m not sure we need movie theaters any more,” said De Niro to hoots and laughter from cinema executives. “I mean, who needs big screens? I’m just f-cking with you.” He noted that the he older he gets, the better he looks on tiny screens. “But that weakens the drama and the comedy and ruins the experience. It’s a bad idea.”
He was introduced by Sebastian Mansicalo who co-wrote, executive produced and plays De Niro’s son in Lionsgate comedy About My Father.
The crowd greeted CinemaCon’s Star of Tomorrow winner Glen Powell like an old friend after screening Top Gun: Maverick in the morning and emerging ecstatic at how good it is. Hank Green, the head of food and drink at AMC Theatres, kicked off the evening raving, “The movie made me want to drive planes, and crash planes, and land planes. I just need more planes in my life!”
Powell said hits the road tomorrow to begin promoting the movie, where he plays a young fighter pilot. “I started this job when I was 10 years old. Now I’m 33. I feel like things are just getting going – tomorrow.”
Comedy Star of the Year Billy Eichner, whose upcoming Bros is the first gay romcom from a major studio (Universal), thanked the group for staying until the last night of the four-day event. “This was long. I was straight when CinemaCon started.”
Zoe Saldaña was named CinemaCon Star of the Year; Rachel McAdams received the Vanguard Award and Abby Ryder Fortson Rising Star of 2022.