Why Ron Meyer Is Wrong When He Says Universal’s Movies Are Shitty

The head of Universal literally said "We make a lot of shitty movies. Every one of them breaks my heart,” then threw a bunch of movies under the bus.

Why Ron Meyer Is Wrong When He Says Universal’s Movies Are Shitty
Ron Meyer, head of Universal Studios, went to the Savannah Film Festival and started getting all Howard Beale on everybody.

“We make a lot of shitty movies. Every one of them breaks my heart.”
That's Meyer! Talking about his own studio! Quoted in depth by Movieline!

He went on to actually name some names of shitty movies, and I think Meyer was wrong about at least two of them (and I think the one he thinks is the worst they've made is nowhere near that bad)

One of the worst movies we ever made was Wolfman. Wolfman and Babe 2 are two of the shittiest movies we put out...

Cowboys & Aliens wasn’t good enough. Forget all the smart people involved in it, it wasn’t good enough. 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.

Wait wait wait. Let's start with Babe 2. He's talking Babe: Pig In The City, the deliciously dark, off-kilter sequel to Babe? I can see how he, as a studio head, would have no idea that Babe 2 is kind of a brilliantly weird sequel. After all, Meyer says that the bottom line is all he cares about anymore, and dark sequels do not equal strong bottom line. But they equal good movies!

And Wolfman - yeah, I'm still defending it. In another quote he says the cast was awful and that Benicio del Toro stunk. That's harsh, and I think he's wrong. The movie's not great - it is LOADED with problems - but it has nice moments. If he thinks Wolfman is shittier than Cowboys & Aliens I don't know what to say.

And Land of the Lost is GREAT. It's a fucked up stoner comedy that snuck through the studio system. Again, I get why he thinks it's bad - it tanked - but Jesus, this is a movie that will be beloved in ten years. Mark my word.

He does have some nice things to say about his own movies.

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.

Kind of a good movie? Christ, Ron, this is a movie that will be touchstone for the next generation of visual filmmakers. When they write the book about your years at Universal they're going to point to Scott Pilgrim as a vital moment in cinema.

He also liked United 93, and he said that A Beautiful Mind did well, but he wouldn't make it these days because it's all about the bottom line for him.

What Meyer didn't mention was the legitimate shit his studio pumps out: unwatchable garbage like Couples Retreat, tired shit like Tower Heist, absolute dog vomit like Changeling. These films did well (or are opening this weekend), so to him they're 'good.'

Here's what makes me mad: for a couple of years Universal was the most interesting, most daring studio in Hollywood. They spent a lot of money on things that were risks, hoping to bring talented filmmakers to the next level. The only other studio operating on any system close to this is Warner Bros, who probably treats their best talent better than anybody else. But for two or three years Universal was really going out on a limb. That limb broke, but instead of apologizing to the tree, Ron Meyer should be standing up and being proud of having taken that chance.

Yeah, it's commerce as well as art. And it sucks when the commerce doesn't work out. But you're at a film festival, talking to film students. Ron, is there any love of the movies left for you? Your studio was braver and more interesting than any other studio for a while, and you should be bragging about that.

Devin Faraci's photo About the Author: A ten year veteran of writing for the web, Devin has built a reputation as a loud, uncompromising and honest voice – sometimes to the chagrin of his readers, but usually to their delight.
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