LAS VEGAS — This week, Sin City looked a bit more like Tinseltown, as some 5000 folks from virtually all walks of the film universe gathered for the theater operators' convention known as CinemaCon.
Among attendees were dozens of major and emerging movie stars who like to meet and greet exhibitors in hopes of getting their new releases into more cineplexes.
Actor-musician Tyrese Gibson of "Transformer" fame was there for another reason — to mentor eight student filmmakers with dreams of getting their own films shown on the big screen.
Oddly enough, Gibson's first cinema memory came not in a cinema but at home, on videotape. "I don't remember going to the theater," he said at the theater operators' closing-night gala. But he noted his first favorites on VHS were "Back to the Future" (1985) and "Ghost Busters" (1984). "These were, some way, somehow, the only two VHS tapes that we had in our house. So, I must have seen 'Back to the Future' over 150 times. We knew all the words to both the movies."
Actor Taylor Kitsch, who appears in May's "Battleship," also cited "Future" as "the first movie that I saw in a cinema that really knocked me out," he said. "You were taken away. It was done so well, especially at the time. And that's what movies do. That's what it's about. Escape."
Actress Jennifer Garner, pushing August's Disney family dramedy "The Odd Life of Timothy Green," recalled going to the theater to see the Lily Tomlin comedy, "The Incredible Shrinking Woman" (1981). "It was such a big deal that we went," recalled Garner. "It was my older sister's birthday, and I got to tag along. . I thought it was the coolest thing I'd ever seen in my life."
"The Lion King" (1994) was the first film fave for Diego Boneta of the June musical "Rock of Ages." ''Until this day, I always cry when (the father) Mufasa dies, and my favorite animal is a lion and I wish I could be (the cub who would be king) Simba."
"One of the movies that I watched over and over was 'Space Jam' (1996), the cartoon movie with Michael Jordan in it," remembered Josh Hutcherson of the "Hunger Games." ''And I think the movie that changed how I viewed movies was 'Fight Club' (1999). It just blew my mind. It's a big leap, from 'Space Jam' to 'Fight Club,' but just bear with me on that."
Anna Faris of May's "The Dictator" said, "My mom took me to the movies to see 'Annie' (1982) when I was 4 or 5. And she bought me some candy, those candy orange segments, which were amazing. I remember being terrified at (Carol Burnett's villainous) Miss Hannigan, and then later on I came to admire her very much," Faris added, with a sinister smile.
"I never saw it in a theater until my 13th birthday," said Chloe Grace of the forthcoming "Dark Shadows." ''But it's the movie that struck me the most, as a young girl and as an actress, 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' (1961), because I saw Audrey Hepburn on the screen, and you wanted to be in her world, you wanted to be beside her. You wanted to be walking down Fifth Avenue with her, sharing that croissant."
Charlize Theron of June's "Snow White and the Huntsman" revealed she "learned everything from love, watching 'Splash' (1984), and that's why I'm still single," generating big laughs from the audience. "So, thanks Tom Hanks, Daryl Hannah, for that."