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In an industry that begins spinning a box-office flop before the movie even opens, it’s refreshing when an executive is honest — in this case, brutally honest — about his studio’s failures. Of course, Ron Meyer is pretty secure in his job as president of Universal Studios, a position he’s held since 1995, so he probably doesn’t give a second thought to surprising confessions like, “We make a lot of shitty movies. Every one of them breaks my heart.”
According to Moviehole, that admission only scratches the surface of his spectacular appearance this week at the Savannah Film Festival, where he opened up about some of Universal’s most recent disappointments, peppering his comments with words like “crappy,” “mediocre,” “shittiest” and, um, “crap.”
On Cowboys & Aliens, Jon Favreau’s big-budget adaptation of the Platinum Studios graphic novel: “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. […] Certainly you couldn’t have more talented people involved in Cowboys & Aliens, but it took, you know, ten smart and talented people to come up with a mediocre movie. It just happens.”
On The Wolfman, which even director Joe Johnston hated: “We set out to make good ones. One of the worst movies we ever made was Wolfman. Wolfman and Babe 2 are two of the shittiest movies we put out […] 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 … [The cast] was awful. The director was wrong. Benicio [del Toro] stunk. It all stunk.”
On Land of the Lost, the 2009 Will Ferrell bomb: “Land of the Lost was just crap. I mean, there was no excuse for it. The best intentions all went wrong.”
On Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, director Edgar Wright’s adaptation of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s graphic novels: “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. I have to take first responsibility because I’m part of it, but we all did a mediocre job and we paid the price for it. It happens.”