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Sony Talks To Movie Theater Owners After Hack

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LAS VEGAS (AP) - Sony Pictures announced plans for an animated "Spider-Man" feature from "The LEGO Movie" writing/directing team of Christopher Miller and Phil Lord on Wednesday at CinemaCon. But the beleaguered studio failed to address the elephant in the room for the audience of theater owners at the annual conference: "The Interview."

In December, amid the hack on Sony and perceived terrorist threats, the major theater chains decided not to show "The Interview" in their theaters. In a statement, Regal Entertainment Group referenced the "wavering support" of Sony in Regal's decision not to show the film. Ultimately, Sony orchestrated a day-and-date release for the film, and it maintained the position that exhibition of the film was the sole decision of the theater owners.

Speaking publicly to theater owners for the first time since the hack, Rory Bruer, Sony's president of worldwide distribution, kicked off the studio's presentation saying only that "there were a few stories written about Sony last year. A couple that I'm going to embellish for our grandchildren."

Sony Pictures Entertainment's new chairman, Tom Rothman, assured the theater owners that, in the wake of the hacks, Sony has not only survived, but thrived. "Thank you for sticking with us and understanding some unique circumstances," he said.

But nowhere in the presentation was any explicit reference made to the unprecedented situation surrounding the release of "The Interview."

Instead, Sony plugged the animated "Spider-Man," which will be released on July 20, 2018, and a number of other films on its slate including the 24th installment in the James Bond saga "Spectre," the Adam Sandler video-game movie "Pixels," and Cameron Crowe's "Aloha."

Director Ang Lee, in a video announcement, said that he was shooting the adaptation of Ben Fountain's novel "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk" in an unprecedented 120-frames-per-second and in 3-D.

"Pixels" director Chris Columbus also took the stage to preview his new film, which imagines a world where classic videogame characters attack earth. "It's a big summer movie that's not a sequel, doesn't have anybody in spandex, and it's not a board game," Columbus said.

Robert Zemeckis, who came out to show footage from "The Walk," said that he prefers "to see movies on a really, really big screen. The bigger the screen the better." Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, "The Walk" is a fictionalized account of Philippe Petit's attempt to cross the Twin Towers on a high-wire.

Sony also debuted never-before-seen-footage of the YA adaptation "The Fifth Wave," Will Smith's "Concussion," George Clooney's "Money Monster," and Meryl Streep's "Ricki and the Flash."

"We're not retrenching and we're not retreating because we believe. So believe along with us," Rothman said.

(© Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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