Honesty and candor are rare commodities in Hollywood – particularly the higher you go up the food chain. That’s what makes Universal Studios’ President Ron Meyer’s recent comments on some of the studios biggest flops so fascinating. In a business where executives will often spend incredible amounts of time polishing turds, Meyer actually came out and admitted that “we make a lot of shitty movies. Every one of them breaks my heart.”
Meyer uttered this sentiment – and went on to single out some of those awful movies – while speaking to assembled students and members of the public at the Savannah School of Art and Design. The studio boss was unusually candid in talking about Universal’s failings, why they’ve passed on some high profile projects, and the future of VOD new releases after the whole Tower Heist fiasco. You can find the full interview at Movieline, but read on for some of Meyer’s choicest quotes -- the one's guaranteed to have everyone buzzing.
Meyer’s “shitty movies” comment came in response to criticism of 2010’s The Wolfman – a big-budget Benecio del Toro vehicle that had a troublesome production cycle and bombed hardcore at the box office. Meyer went on to add “One of the worst movies we ever made was Wolfman. Wolfman and Babe 2 are two of the shittiest movies we put out, but by the same token we made movies we believe in.”
“It’s one of those movies, the moment I saw it I thought, ‘What have we all done here?’ That movie was crappy. 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…”
If that weren’t enough vitriol, he even goes on to mention that star Benecio del Toro “stunk.” Truth is, he’s correct.
Wolfman was hardly Universal’s only recent misstep, though. Meyer singles out Land of the Lost, this summer’s Cowboys & Aliens, and Scott Pilgrim as other examples of the studio falling short.
“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. 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.”
Somehow, through all of these missteps, Meyer has managed to keep his job as boss at the studio. He attributes this mostly to the constant changeovers in ownership – he’s been through five different owners during his 17-year reign – and the fact that he’s valuable to each new owner since he knows how everything runs.
Meyer’s candidness didn’t end there – he also talks about 3D, building additional Harry Potter theme parks, and more. So head on over to Movieline for the full transcript. It’s refreshing to hear someone in the biz talk so honestly.