Monday, May 20, 2024

CinemaCon 2024 Recap: Angel Studios

The other studios may have scored the enormous Colosseum within Caesar’s Palace for their CinemaCon presentations, but Angel Studios supplied breakfast in the smaller Palace Ballroom. It’s not as flashy, but it’s still a strong start for a studio that had never released a film theatrically this time last year. Executives from Angel Studios made sure the movie theater owners and exhibitors in the audience knew that, too. They touted the solid grosses for “Sound of Freedom” and celebrated becoming the 8th-highest-grossing studio of 2023. “With your help, Angel Studios helped shine a light in 2023,” executive Brandon Purdie says.

Right from the start, Angel Studios Distribution Chief Jared Geesey took aim at other studios. He talked about their “gatekeeping” model of making movies and touted the “Angel Guild,” a group of thousands of small-scale investors who help greenlight their films. He’s right that these films have a huge audience as long as the budgets remain manageable. All of the Angel Studios executives had a bold attitude, whether earned or not, declaring to the CinemaCon crowd that they would be a force to be reckoned with in theaters for years to come. By and large, the crowd in the ballroom seemed reasonably receptive to their message, applauding often and murmuring positively after each trailer.

First up for Angel Studios is “Sight,” starring Greg Kinnear and Terry Chen, which will hit theaters this Memorial Day. The movie is about Ming Wang, a Chinese immigrant to the United States who became a world-renowned eye surgeon. The doctor can perform miracles (no, not literally), becoming an inspiration. It looks, well, inspirational and heartwarming. Next, Angel Studios teased “Possum Trot,” a story about a town rallying together to foster dozens of kids. They explicitly tied the movie to “Sound of Freedom” in the marketing. “Sound of Freedom shined a light on the horrors of child trafficking. Possum Trot offers a solution.” Coming July 4th, the film stars Elizabeth Mitchell, Demetrius Grosse, and Nika King.

This Thanksgiving, Angel Studios will release “Bonhoeffer,” a historical drama centered on the early life of German theologian and pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer. While yes, Bonhoeffer was a theologian, his life during World War II was genuinely fascinating. The film centers around his involvement in a plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler. Written and directed by “Sully” screenwriter Todd Komarnicki, there’s genuine potential for this to be more than just standard inspirational religious fare. We’ll find out this fall.

Attempting some synergy between theatrical and streaming, Angel Studios will release an original film titled “Homestead,” which will reportedly launch a new drama series. They conveniently didn’t mention the series to the crowd of theater owners, though. The apocalyptic thriller stars Neal McDonough and centers on America entering a nuclear war and a family fighting to survive. Of the trailers shown, this has the potential to be the most political rather than simply religious. Of course, no politics were shown in the trailer.

They weren’t shy about expectations in teasing their first big animated feature. “Angel Studios plans to release the most successful animated film of all time,” they claimed. Titled “David” after the Biblical King and Giant Slayer, it will be a family-friendly musical journey, and they promised animation and storytelling that would rival the best of family entertainment out there. They showcased a clip with a song clearly based on David’s Psalms. It looks cute, and the music was fine, but it’s still extraordinarily tough to imagine this surpassing the biggest animated movies ever. That’s especially difficult when they chose Thanksgiving 2025, a date already claimed by Disney’s “Zootopia 2.” While the audience had been supportive of the presentation thus far, there were audible laughs when the Angel Studios marketing executive made this bold claim. It’s not a great way to promote the movie.

Angel Studios teased some upcoming films that are now in production, like “Young Washington: A Founder’s Story.” If anyone wondered if they would stick to religious and inspirational stories without getting political, it looks like we have an answer. Ultimately, Angel Studios still has a lot to prove. They touted their “pay-it-forward” ticketing system but didn’t address claims that they inflated ticket sales using this system. Nevertheless, there’s an ample box office opportunity with Christian fare, and the other major studios have been catering to this crowd for a few years now. Can Angel Studios keep up its momentum from the last year?

What was your favorite piece of news from the Angel Studios panel at CinemaCon this year? Please let us know in the comments section below or over on our Twitter account.

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Daniel Howat
Daniel Howathttps://nextbestpicture.com
Movie and awards season obsessed. Hollywood Critics Association Member.

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