Universal President Suddenly Very Candid About Making "A Lot of Shitty Movies"

November 4, 2011


Speaking to a crowd at the Savannah Film Festival on Wednesday, longtime Universal head Ron Meyer for some reason decided it was about time he no longer spare the feelings of Babe 2: Pig in the CIty, and admitted what pretty much everyone already knew: that his studio has made some pretty shitty films. Movieline captured Meyer's surprisingly candid thoughts, and if you were involved in the production of The Wolfman, you may want to look away:

"We make a lot of shitty movies," Meyer admitted. "Every one of them breaks my heart."

"We set out to make good ones. One of the worst movies we ever made was Wolfman [produced, coincidentally, by local Savannah resident Stratton Leopold.] Wolfman and Babe 2 are two of the shittiest movies we put out, but by the same token we made movies we believe in. We did United 93, which is one of the movies I'm most proud of. It wasn't a big moneymaker, but it's a film I believe every American should see and it showed you what people can do in the worst of times and how great the human spirit is and all that, so there are moments that can make up for all the junk that you make."

If you're wondering why Meyer would single out something as inoffensive as Wolfman when his studio also made pieces of shit like, say, Land of the Lost, don't worry, he's still getting to that. Asked about the relative box office failures of Land of the Lost, Cowboys & Aliens, and Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, the Universal COO once again laid it all out in plain terms. And once again, his answer was that two-thirds of those films were shit sandwiches that didn't deserve any better:

"Cowboys & Aliens wasn't good enough. Forget all the smart people involved in it, it wasn't good enough," Meyer said, without pause. "All those little creatures bouncing around were crappy. I think it was a mediocre movie, and we all did a mediocre job with it."

"Land of the Lost was just crap," he continued. "I mean, there was no excuse for it. The best intentions all went wrong."

"Scott Pilgrim, I think, was actually kind of a good movie. [Addressing a small section of the audience, cheering.] But none of you guys went! And you didn't tell your friends to go! But, you know, it happens."

"Cowboys & Aliens didn't deserve better. Land of the Lost didn't deserve better. Scott Pilgrim did deserve better, but it just didn't capture enough of the imaginations of people, and it was one of those things where it didn't cost a lot so it wasn't a big loss. Cowboys & Aliens was a big loss, and Land of the Lost was a huge loss. We misfired. We were wrong. We did it badly, and I think we're all guilty of it. I have to take first responsibility because I'm part of it, but we all did a mediocre job and we paid the price for it. It happens. They're talented people. Certainly you couldn't have more talented people involved in Cowboys & Aliens, but it took, you know, ten smart and talented people to come up with a mediocre movie. It just happens."

But lest you think the whole speech was gloom and doom and letting Land of the Lost know what a dumb fucking turd it is, rest assured, there was some good news to be found. Though theater protests forced Universal to cancel plans to release Tower Heist on video on-demand just three weeks after it hit theaters--in turn forcing the rest of us to cancel our plans to have Tower Heist parties to help pay for the $60 rental cost--Meyer has not given up on the idea, and he's confident "eventually we will get it to work in conjunction with theater owners." Though we may never ourselves hold a pay-at-the-door Tower Heist party, the dream is alive that our children still could. Perhaps for Tower Heist 2: Taller Tower.

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