Why We Can’t Have Great Movies
Universal Studios chief Ron Meyer recently made a startling admission:
“We make a lot of shitty movies.”
In a speech made at the Savannah Film Festival Meyer made some very candid remarks regarding past and future movies. Here’s a summary of what he said:
3-D is only suitable for a small number of movies where it can add to the viewing experience.
Who cares about winning awards when there’s money to be made
“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.” “But we did A Beautiful Mind, and I don’t know that we’d do A Beautiful Mind again. That’s the sad part.”
Low risk, medium budgets and average movies
“None of us would be able to do, or afford, what Jim Cameron was able to do with Avatar,” that kind of project is just too high risk which is why he recently turned down Ron Howard’s adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower. For such a huge budget ($200m) he was worried about what they could make back on that investment. Clearly, from the past 5 years only Fast Five, Despicable Me and The Bourne Ultimatum grossed over $200m at the Box Office so it’s a legitimate worry despite interest from King fans.
Humanity on screen
Interested in making movies which show how great the human spirit is in the face of adversity.
New sources of revenue?
- Meyer would like to see if he can make money from Video-on-demand -making the movie available to download only a couple of weeks after they are released in theaters for a premium price of say $59.99. Unfortunately his attempt to do this with Tower Heist did not succeed due to fierce opposition from theater owners.
- There are plans to build more Harry Potter-themed amusement parks to capitalize on its success.
So, really in these hard economic times, Meyer is saying he hates the fact that he’s made crappy movies in the past but he can’t afford to take huge risks by spending enormous amounts of money on a project, not even if he believes it would be a multi-award winner because that doesn’t bring in the big bucks. Instead he’s looking to spend the least amount of money on using readily available techniques showing middle of the road fare aimed at family (or teenaged, at the oldest) audiences. He’s not willing to reach for the stars or develop innovative movies which could put them on the map.
If other production companies take Universal’s view, then perhaps this is why there are so few great movies these days. Few are willing to take a risk.