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Let summer movie hype begin

March 16, 2007|Sheigh Crabtree | Special to The Times

LAS VEGAS — In the war of hype to win the hearts and minds of the media, theater owners and merchandisers this summer, studio reps at ShoWest brought out their big guns: the "sizzle reel," 20 to 40 minutes of advance film footage specially cut for the highest razzle-dazzle effect. Here's an early look at some of the summer's offerings:

"Spider-Man 3"

Sony made its appeal to all four quadrants -- the elusive young, old, male and female demographic -- when it sneaked six minutes of "Spider-Man 3" on Monday for international exhibitors. In the opening clip, Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) and Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst) lay under the moonlight in a glistening hammock spun from webs making sweet talk about the future. In a second scene, Parker talks about his feelings for Mary Jane with his elderly aunt, who gives him her wedding band. In the next, Parker and Venom (Topher Grace) battle high above the city and Parker drops the ring from the equivalent of a skyscraper's 30th floor. Sony's message to exhibitors: Romance, action and a caring parental figure, all in one movie, in theaters May 4.

"Transformers"

Director Michael Bay introduced a few sneak peeks of his unfinished film and asked theater owners to play his movie's trailer in their theaters. Trophy girls in tiny black dresses appeared carrying towering boxes of film reels, which the director joked that he'd personally hand to each exhibitor in the lobby after the sneak peek.

Although Bay's latest may again be stuffed with corporate product placement from HP and Apple, the sequences shown were not absent some charming touches. The three clips showed lots of action, some heart, family comedy and, naturally, impressive visual effects.

In one of the July 4 release's most comical sequences, in which robots descend on his home, Shia LaBouef's character tangles with a government official played by John Turturro.

"Evan Almighty"

Universal's international marketing team took the unusual step of showing behind-the-scenes footage from "Evan Almighty," starring Steve Carell in the sequel to "Bruce Almighty." The new story line follows Carell in his effort (at God's request) to build a modern-day Noah's ark. Execs aimed to whet the appetites of animal lovers everywhere by showing footage of trainer Mark Forbes with an enormous but docile trained bear, a multitude of monkeys, pigeons, sheep, a giraffe and numerous other exotic critters. It is slated to open June 22.

"The Bourne Ultimatum"

Universal closed out its summer exhibition tease session with the next installment from the Jason Bourne franchise, the spy thriller series widely recognized for reinvigorating the action genre with extreme stunts, hand-held camera work and breakneck pacing. Execs unspooled the first teaser clip from "The Bourne Ultimatum" to suggest that the third film in the series, planned to open Aug. 3, will not only live up to its predecessors but perhaps exceed action fans' expectations.

Set in a Middle Eastern bazaar, the less-than-10-minute scene shows a gunman chasing Julia Stiles' character through narrow alleyways as Bourne (Matt Damon) tries to intervene from a roof above. In high-flying jumps, inspired by urban parkour -- a French form of street gymnastics, seen most recently in the opening of "Casino Royale" -- the amnesiac spy tracks Stiles as she is chased below. All three characters end up in a frenetic hand-to-hand fight.

"Ratatouille"

Pixar and Disney may be the gold standard for computer animation, but that doesn't mean they don't have to tease their 'toons for the crowds. Director Brad Bird introduced a sneak peek of the film about an ambitious French varmint who wants to be a five-star chef. Given the crowded marketplace this summer, Bird joked that they were going to market the movie as the prequel to the sequel. It is scheduled to open June 29.

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