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CinemaCon: Samuel L. Jackson, Ryan Reynolds Hit Target in ‘Hitman’s Bodyguard’

Variety logo Variety 3/31/2017 Dave McNary
© Provided by Variety

Lionsgate hit close to a bullseye with exhibitors with a Thursday afternoon CinemaCon screening of the Samuel L. Jackson-Ryan Reynolds action-comedy “The Hitman’s Bodyguard.”

“It’s a great performance by Samuel L. Jackson and it should do pretty solid business,” one exhibitor said after the showing at Caesars Palace.

“The Hitman’s Bodyguard,” set in England and the Netherlands, centers on a high-level bodyguard — portrayed by a buttoned-down Reynolds — slowly bonding with Jackson’s wisecracking hitman to take down a Russian dictator, played by Gary Oldman, in exchange for getting his wife (Salma Hayek) out of jail. Oldman’s operatives are seemingly everywhere, supplying endless machine-gun fire; unsurprisingly, Jackson got the lion’s share of the laughs.

“The Hitman’s Bodyguard” opens on Aug. 16. Hayek came on stage to introduce the film and asserted, “I have the courage to predict there will be a sequel.”

Patrick Hughes directed from a Black List script by Tom O’Connor. Producers are David Ellison, Mark Gill, John Thompson, Matt O’Toole, and Les Weldon. Chinese finance-production company Cristal Pictures is co-producing and co-financing.

Prior tp the screening, Lionsgate distribution chief David Spitz offered a look at footage from some of Lionsgate’s upcoming titles including the comedy “How Be a Latin Lover,” which stars Eugenio Derbez and Hayek; family drama “Wonder,” starring Jacob Tremblay as a schoolboy who overcomes facial deformities; Tupac Shakur biopic “All Eyez on Me”; and Idris Elba-Kate Winslet adventure “The Mountain Between Us.”

Spitz said “Wonder,” which also stars Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson, has racked up the highest test scores for any Lionsgate movie. It opens Nov. 17.

Spitz also reminded the exhibitors that Lionsgate showed the first footage from “La La Land” a year ago at CinemaCon and noted that the musical comedy-drama has grossed more than $430 million worldwide.

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