This weekend, the Pulse Conference at UCLA kicked off with a candid interview with Ron Meyer, the President and COO of Universal Studios, and a well-respected veteran of the film industry.
During the interview, Meyer provided some interesting information about the possibility of a franchise for a couple of Universal’s current projects, along with other tidbits from the studio and industry.
The stated purpose of the interview was to ask about remarks made last November pertaining to the film industry, when Meyer gave a surprisingly candid talk about how ‘shitty’ some of the Universal movies are, as well as what is being generated by the rest of Hollywood. He specifically referenced Wolfman and Babe 2 as being particularly bad Universal films.
During this weekend’s discussion, he clarified he did not mean that all Hollywood movies are ‘shitty’ right now, only that there are some terrible films being made.
"I was quoted as saying Hollywood make shitty movies," Meyer said. "What I said is we make some good movies and some shitty movies. Nobody ever sets out to make a shitty movie."
Much of the discussion then focused on how it’s much more difficult to make a truly good film today than in the past due to a much more complicated confluence of new technologies and other factors. According to Meyer, this makes it more and more difficult for a single director to visualize and shape a production, which is what lead to some terrible films over the last decade.
The conversation ultimately turned to questions about plans for the future, and specific properties that Universal is working on. He had mentioned that Hollywood is currently focused on franchises due to ease of marketing and reliability of audience. When asked what franchises are in the works for Universal, he mentioned two properties which have promise: The Lorax and Snow White and the Huntsman.
The Lorax was too self-contained for a direct sequel, Meyer pointed out, but "It does have us thinking about doing more Dr. Seuss movies," adding that Universal is already working on developing a new version of The Cat in the Hat with the Dreamworks team responsible for The Lorax, a film which far exceeded all box office expectations.
Snow White and the Huntsman has a similar problem of being a self-contained story, meaning, when the tale ends, there is not much else for Snow to do.
The Huntsman, Chris Hemsworth’s character, may still have some more story in him, perhaps even a franchise, though what form that story may take, Meyer did not mention.
Afterward, he gave his personal opinion on 3D films, which is basically that he doesn’t like them as an audience member, and does not think that they are "an end-all for the business," as some filmmakers seem to think.
It’s surprising and refreshing to hear such candid commentary about the business from such a major player. Unfortunately, a full transcript or video of the interview is proving hard to come by.
Neither The Cat in the Hat nor the untitled Huntsman film have been officially announced by the studio as yet.