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Sep 25 11 7:06 AM
Sep 25 11 12:07 PM
Nov 15 11 12:21 AM
100% BdT Fan
It had to be a shocking moment for film-goers at the Savannah Film Festival. Universal chief Ron Meyer showed up for a Q&A and, rather than use evasive language to hide any fault, he called them as he saw them, describing movies like The Wolfman, Land of the Lost and Babe 2 as “crap.”
But, as frank as Meyer’s mea culpa to film-goers was, Movie Line’s detailed account reveals a man asking for forgiveness from his audience without making any changes to earn such salvation.
It’s easy to attack Meyer’s decision to call the above-mentioned movies “crap.” After all, the three underperformed at the box office (and how else would a studio head view a film, other than by the receipts)). Yet, Meyer’s statements are not so simple. He describes box office dud Scott Pilgrim vs. the World as “…actually kind of a good movie,” before chiding a small section of the audience that cheered by saying, “But none of you guys went! And you didn’t tell your friends to go! But, you know, it happens.”
Yea, the truth hurts, film nerd. Sure, Meyer is blaming you, but who else is to blame? You won’t pay to see good films in the theater, so the studios release shabby products that others will gladly pay for (can we all say Transformers?). Though he’s wisely avoids the entire piracy issue, he’s still digs into those who feel any movie should be free on the Internet with a dull, rusty shovel. If you won’t support decent movies in the theater, don’t expect studios to continue making them, only so you can download them illegally later.
Meyer’s bluntness extends to one of the Oscar winning pictures generated on his watch. While he admits being the proud father, he still slaps Ron Howard’s film about the room.
“[A critical hit is] great when it happens. But we did A Beautiful Mind, and I don’t know that we’d do A Beautiful Mind again. That’s the sad part. It’s great to win awards and make films that you’re proud of and make money, but your first obligation is to make money and then worry about being proud of what you do.”
Made on a modest budget, A Beautiful Mind did make over $100 million over its reported budget. Still, that’s a lot less profit for the studio than a Harry Potter film and like it or not, filmmaking is a business. Studios want to see a return on their investment and for every Oscar box office success like A Beautiful Mind exists several failures (like The Hurt Locker). Remember, I’m not talking quality, but quantity, as in how many butts ended up in theater seats. The fewer that go to these quality movies, the fewer studios will be willing to produce or distribute.
Meyer also talks about turning Howard and del Toro down for The Dark Tower films and At the Mountain of Madness. And here’s where things get muddy…
“We looked at the economics of [At the Mountains of Madness and Dark Tower] and it just didn’t make sense for us, for what we would have to put out for what we could make back. It didn’t feel secure enough for us, and that’s the reason we didn’t do it.
“They’re both good projects, they just were more expensive than made sense for us to spend. If I thought that we could get a better return and everybody was willing to cut their gross, I wasn’t afraid of the price — I was just afraid of the return. I didn’t want to invest, you know, $200 million to not make enough to show that that was worth investing that money.”
Okay, the idea that a major studio expects a certain amount of money returned upon their investment shouldn’t be a shock. After all, Sam Raimi mentions quite often in The Evil Dead Companion that one of his goals was to repay his investors. Though it’s not the same as a major studio, anyone should understand the concept that films need to make enough money to repay the investor and enough of a profit that the studio can continue making movies. Yet, Meyer never discusses what made a concept like Will Ferrell in Land of the Lost a wiser investment than Howard’s take on a Stephen King tale.
And his later 3D argument rings rather shallow. Meyer cautions studios from relying too heavily on the technique, while acknowledging his studio’s upcoming 3D film 47 Ronin (with Keanu Reeves!?!?).
“I’m not a believer that every film should be 3-D. I think there’s a place for it; I think certain films lend themselves to it. Warner Bros. did Journey to the Center of the Earth; that movie would have never worked had it not been 3-D. The only thing that made that film palatable at all was the 3-D aspect.”
Oh, sure, Journey to the Center of the Earth was fine for Warner because it was in 3D and made a lot of money (though it opened at #3 behind Hellboy: The Golden Army and Hancock) both in theaters and on DVD. Yet he never explains why he turned down Mountain of Madness, even with James Cameron’s involvement, considering the praise he heaped on Avatar.
“None of us would be able to do, or afford, what Jim Cameron was able to do with Avatar. Avatar was everything money could buy, and we can’t afford to be in that business. He spent a lot of money, he did a brilliant job… you were inside that movie, and that’s what made it work. You were surrounded by that film. I think 3-D has a limited capacity, but a capacity. I don’t think all films should be 3-D and we should be careful about falling for that.”
Seriously, Meyer admires what Cameron did with the limited plot of Avatar, yet turns down a 3D film with his backing? Sure, maybe the proposed R-rating was a bit frightening, but one wonders if Meyer tried to negotiate this point with del Toro. Or maybe he should have experimented with how the film is released, as he wanted to with Tower Heist (more on that one later). Perhaps a dual rating release, with the R-rated version hitting some markets one week before a PG-13 version goes into wide release. I think the theater owners might be more amendable to that idea, rather than a VOD release of a new theatrical release.
But the best part of the discussion was when The Wolfman producer, Stratton Leopold, stepped into the room…
Leopold, amiably introducing himself: “I’m Stratton Leopold…”
Meyer, good naturedly: “It’s one of those movies, the moment I saw it I thought, ‘What have we all done here?’ That movie was crappy.”
Leopold: “I said the same thing before the re-shoot. I said, ‘Why are we spending all of this? Let’s shoot two scenes to create some sympathy for the [hero] and that’s it,’ but…”
Meyer: “We all went wrong. It was one of those things… like I said, we make a lot of bad movies. That’s one we should have smelled out a long time ago. It was wrong. The script never got right…”
Leopold: “The cast -”
Meyer: “—was awful. The director was wrong. Benicio [del Toro] stunk. It all stunk.”
Talk about burning some bridges. Whether you agree with Meyer or not, I wonder how long it will take Benicio del Toro to work on another Universal picture.
I wonder how well this discussion would have gone over last weekend, after Universal’s Tower Heist was @$%#@-slapped by returning champ Puss in Boots. This was the movie Meyer talked about charging people $66 to see in the privacy of their own home during its theatrical release. And much like Disney discarding the idea of a quick DVD release for Alice in Wonderland, theater owners caused Meyer to back down for now. Though I doubt people would be willing to pay through the nose to see this movie, even if they didn’t have to show their faces in public.
What initially attracted me to this story was Meyer’s strong language and candid views expressed to a group of film-goers. Yet, the more details I uncover, the more my feelings are mixed. On one hand, it smacks of a guy reaching the end of his job (he even admits he’s living on borrowed time, and resorts to extravagant re-enactments of old time Hollywood persona to wow studio owners) and trying to secure his legacy. But if Meyer was truly sorry for the crap Universal delivered to movie goers, he should have offer some suggestions for others, including his successor, on how to avoid the traps he experiences during his tenure. Instead, his confession rings as hollow as a BoA CEO explaining to St. Peter why processing foreclosures before reviewing the documents was a good idea.
One thing Meyer does well is to point out that audiences share the blame for the crap studios put out. Rather than wallow in a discussion over video piracy or talk to his audience like a principal presiding over detention, Meyer politely states the obvious. If people want Hollywood to make more movies like Scott Pilgrim or A Beautiful Mind, or ensure that movies like Troll Hunter get wide, studio backed releases, get to the theaters and support them.
I suspect Meyers got a few nights worth of sound sleep with his confession, but I hope he’s wide awake tonight, and every night for the next year, in a cold sweat, wondering how movie goers will receive his studio’s big release next year, American Reunion, or if all they’ll remember is his frequent use of the word “crap” in Savannah. Yes, confession is good for your soul, Mr. Meyer. But you’ll have to express some willingness to change your ways before moviegoers will consider forgiving you.There was NOTHING wrong with that movie except the RELEASE DATE. Whoever heard of releasing a film of that genre; a Period Gothic Werewolf story on Valentine's Day. Perhaps Mr. Meyer should look into who the Rocket Scientist was, that made that decision.This article was first posted on the Beni's Angels Board by Cosmos Gate.
Nov 15 11 2:41 AM
Dec 19 11 4:58 PM
Dec 3 13 12:36 AM
6 hours ago | MovieWeb | See recent MovieWeb news»
NBC is tapping into Universal Pictures' horror catalog once again by developing a TV series based on the 2010 feature film The Wolfman, which starred Benicio Del Toro and Anthony Hopkins. That film was a remake of the 1941 classic The Wolf Man that starred Lon Chaney Jr. as the title character.
Dracula head writer and executive producer Daniel Knauf is writing the pilot script and executive producing. The show will tackle themes of being a man and a human, centering on Lawrence Talbott, who suffers from an ancient curse that transforms him into a vicious werewolf when a full moon appears.
Scott Stuber, who produced The Wolfman movie, will serve as executive producer alongside Daniel Knauf and Quan Phung. No production schedule was given, but if the network orders The Wolfman to series, it will likely find a home on its Friday night block of supernatural-themed programming, which includes Grimm and Dracula.»
Jan 4 14 9:47 PM
I don't mean to come off as a Debbie Downer, but I don't foresee this being a good thing. I don't see writers being able to keep a good storyline going for years. I just think some shows are better off as a mini-series rather trying to keep them going for years and years.
Jun 26 16 3:30 AM
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