LAS VEGAS: New James Bond footage from historic Hollywood studio MGM shook and stirred the movie theatre industry's CinemaCon summit in Las Vegas Tuesday, as executives struck a defiant note about the future of the big screen.
A nine-minute clip from "No Time To Die" -- billed as Daniel Craig's final 007 outing, and the series' 25th instalment -- showed Bond apparently awakening from an explosion in a picturesque Italian village, before plunging into a series of car and motorbike chases.
In traditional fashion for the British super-spy, Bond inflicted violence on his foes using his fists and deadly machine-gun gadgets fitted into the headlights of his Aston Martin.
The plot picks up after 2015's "Spectre," with the loyalty of love interest Madeleine Swann (Lea Seydoux) now seemingly called into question.
"There's something I need to tell you," she says to Bond in the clip, after shadowy operatives converge on the agent. "I bet there is," he responds angrily.
The film has been delayed multiple times by Covid, and is of huge importance to movie theatres this year as Hollywood hopes to entice viewers back to cinemas despite the pandemic.
"Though we know it feels like a long time coming, it was important to us to release this movie when fans can watch James Bond, as it's intended to be enjoyed -- on the big screen," MGM film chief Michael De Luca said, to a loud ovation.
No mention was made of MGM's recent acquisition by Amazon.
Long-standing Bond producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson have insisted that upcoming 007 films will still appear in theatres.
But the spy franchise was seen as a crown jewel in the $8.45 billion deal intended to boost Amazon's streaming presence, as competition intensifies in the on-demand market.
The annual CinemaCon sees Hollywood studios bring glitzy stars and never-before-seen footage to a Las Vegas casino to woo theatre bosses.
After a year's absence due to Covid, it is taking place again despite fears about the Delta variant, and A-listers have largely stayed away from this week's Las Vegas event.
But with nearly 90 per cent of domestic theatres now back open, executives at Caesars Palace have repeatedly emphasized positive prospects for the big screen.
"There is only one way to create a billion-dollar movie franchise -- show movies in movie theaters first," said Adam Aron, chair of giant movie theatre chain AMC.
Exhibiting their wares later Tuesday are Warner Bros, who angered many Hollywood filmmakers and movie theatres this year by releasing all of their titles simultaneously on the HBO Max streaming platform.
The studio has entered deals to restore a "window" in which movies will be exclusive to theatres next year.
The MGM presentation also featured footage from upcoming Ridley Scott drama "House of Gucci" starring a glittering ensemble including Lady Gaga and Adam Driver, as well as a new movie musical of "Cyrano" led by Peter Dinklage ("Game of Thrones.")
Advance footage was shown of "Samaritan," starring Sylvester Stallone as a disillusioned former vigilante with superhero powers, determined to clear up a crime-ridden city.
"No Time To Die" gets its world premiere in London on September 28. CinemaCon runs until Thursday.
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