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Embattled studio Paramount showcases ‘Gladiator 2’ footage

Footage from 'Gladiator 2' was met with an enthusiastic thumbs up at CinemaCon, an annual gathering at which Hollywood studios showcase their upcoming titles for movie theater owners and managers from around the world
Footage from 'Gladiator 2' was met with an enthusiastic thumbs up at CinemaCon, an annual gathering at which Hollywood studios showcase their upcoming titles for movie theater owners and managers from around the world - Copyright AFP Julie SEBADELHA
Footage from 'Gladiator 2' was met with an enthusiastic thumbs up at CinemaCon, an annual gathering at which Hollywood studios showcase their upcoming titles for movie theater owners and managers from around the world - Copyright AFP Julie SEBADELHA
Andrew MARSZAL

Paramount Pictures unveiled gory first-look footage from “Gladiator 2” to movie theater bosses at Caesars Palace casino in Las Vegas on Thursday, raising cheers even as the studio and big-screen industry face uncertain times.

In an extended trailer, the sequel’s star Paul Mescal does battle in a Colosseum filled with rhinos, bloodthirsty baboons and even floating Roman warships, egged on by Denzel Washington’s shadowy advisor.

“It is possibly more extraordinary than the first,” said director Ridley Scott, via video.

The footage was met with an enthusiastic thumbs up at CinemaCon, an annual gathering at which Hollywood studios showcase their upcoming titles for movie theater owners and managers from around the world.

Paramount — one of Hollywood’s oldest studios — faces a turbulent future, with its parent company having entered exclusive merger talks earlier this month with Skydance, a media company founded by the billionaire Ellison family.

Meanwhile overall global box office receipts are expected to fall in 2024, largely due to last year’s actors and writer strikes, which shuttered and delayed film productions.

Paramount executives nonetheless delivered a bullish presentation on Thursday, which also included titles such as “A Quiet Place: Day One,” “Smile 2,” and “IF” — a new comedy from John Krasinski and starring Ryan Reynolds.

Stars including Chris Hemsworth and Lupita Nyong’o were brought on stage for the presentation.

Paramount film chief Brian Robbins even joked about the merger talks, suggesting one of his executives had launched a crowd-funded Kickstarter campaign to buy the studio.

But all eyes were on Scott’s sequel to his Oscar best picture-winning 2000 historical epic “Gladiator.”

Promotional marble statues for “Gladiator 2” had adorned the casino floors of Caesars Palace, the Ancient Rome-themed hotel where CinemaCon is being held.

More than two decades later, Scott returns to direct the sequel.

As the previous film’s main characters, played by Russell Crowe and Joaquin Phoenix, were killed off, a new crop of actors step in.

Mescal portrays gladiator Lucius, the nephew of Phoenix’s villainous emperor, who was seen briefly as a child in the original film.

Pedro Pascal plays a military general, while Washington’s mysterious character is seen in the extended footage plotting to topple the Roman Empire.

“Rome must fall. I need only to give it a push,” he says, in once scene.

“Gladiator 2” hits theaters in November.

AFP
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With 2,400 staff representing 100 different nationalities, AFP covers the world as a leading global news agency. AFP provides fast, comprehensive and verified coverage of the issues affecting our daily lives.

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