©Warner Bros/courtesy Everett C
The Scarlet Speedster crashed CinemaCon. “The Flash,” DC Comics’ superhero adventure starring Ezra Miller, played to mostly cheering audiences at the annual Theater Owners Convention in Las Vegas on Tuesday night.
Prior to the debut, executives at Warner Bros. and DC touted “The Flash” as “one of the greatest superhero movies ever made.” It may not have dispelled those stratospheric expectations (there was a little movie called “The Dark Knight,” after all), but the finished product drew plenty of cheers, laughs, and maybe a few tears in the room at Caesars Palace.
That said, CinemaCon is not the Cannes Film Festival. The Colosseum audience, filled with movie theater owners from around the world, is directly interested in the success of the blockbuster hopeful. But introducing “The Flash” to this title is yet another sign of Warner Bros. passionate support for the project, which over the years has been plagued by controversies surrounding Miller, as well as myriad directorial reshuffles, COVID-19 delays, and regime change at the studio and DC. CinemaCon marked the first screening of “The Flash” ahead of its June 16 theatrical debut.
In “The Flash,” Miller’s heroic Barry Allen travels back in time to prevent his mother’s murder, which leads to unintended consequences and opens up the DC Multiverse (Spider-Man: No Way Home style). Opening these portals leads to all sorts of unexpected cameos – some teased in the trailer and others that Zod would hit the press for revealing. Suffice it to say, nearly every one of those appearances, along with several sly nods to Tim Burton’s original “Batman,” drew rapturous applause from the crowd.
Miller did not attend CinemaCon, nor did their co-stars Ben Affleck and Michael Keaton (both returning as their respective Batmen), Kiersey Clemmons or Michael Shannon. But director Andy Muschietti and his producing partner Barbara Muschietti were on hand to present the film, described as “a four-year process”.
The siblings pointed out that the version of the film that screened on Tuesday is unfinished, “but it’s still pretty awesome,” Barbara said. There is no end credits, so there may be other surprises in store for those who purchase tickets.
Earlier Tuesday at the studio’s multi-hour CinemaCon presentation, the CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery’s David Zaslav told the CinemaCon crowd that he’s seen “The Flash” three times already. “It’s a very emotional movie. You’re going to go through all the emotions,” he told the theater owners room. “It’s the best superhero movie I’ve ever seen.”
Ahead of Tuesday’s screening, much of the press around “The Flash” was overshadowed by Miller’s off-screen behavior. The actor, who faces allegations of assault and abuse, has apologized for his past actions.
“Having recently gone through a period of intense crisis, I now understand that I suffer from complex mental health issues and have begun ongoing treatment,” Miller said in a statement last summer. “I want to apologize to everyone I have alarmed and upset about my past behavior. I am committed to doing the work necessary to get back to a healthy, safe and productive stage of my life.
Regardless of their personal issues, the studio expressed confidence in Miller’s performance.
As Muschietti spoke about the film during the Warner Bros. Tuesday morning, the filmmaker hailed Miller as “an incredible comedian” who has “all the action required for a great show like this.”
Muschietti added, “They wanted to do all the stunts, and I let them.”