Universal Chief Ron Meyer Clears Up 'Shitty Movies' Comment
“Part of it was a communications problem,” said Meyer, predicting that he'll try it again some time in the future. "There is no question it is coming. We don’t want to cannibalize our business. We have to be responsible. … We’re going to find an accommodation.”
Meyer said he believes in the movie business and that theaters will continue to be the first place to play, but he said exhibitors have to step up as well. “The theater owners,” said Meyer, “have to make seats that are comfortable and offer food that is edible.”
Repeating that nobody ever sets out to make a bad movie, Meyer also admitted that about 65 percent of all the movies Hollywood makes fail.
He said some movies need stars but there are very few who can really “put butts in seats.” He cited Will Smith as one who is bankable and said Tom Cruise was an important factor in the success of the Mission: Impossible movies, so he was worth what he was paid.
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Meyer was an agent before he took the helm of the studio and admitted he was one of those who helped pump up star salaries. “I don’t rue it now,” he said, “but I get punished by it some days.”
When you wake up on Saturday morning and your newest movie is a hit, said Meyer, that’s when the business is “fun.” But “it's not fun when you have a flop." When a movie flops, for days after, he said, “You are sure all the people are pointing at you everywhere you go.”
Meyer said during his 17 years at the studio, he has been under six different ownerships, but the core group of executives around him have stayed together through much of that change.
“Each owner comes in with a new set of rules and a new vision for the studio,” said Meyer. “But there has to be a balance -- between what has been done and what they will do. But it’s their studio. They can do with it what they want."
He praised the current owner, Comcast, as the best of the bunch. He said that unlike General Electric, Seagram’s or the Japanese or French owners, “Comcast needs the product and wants to produce. They’re very supportive of what we do. They really get it. It’s been a very satisfying relationship.”
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As an example, he pointed to the deal with Netflix to license some Universal library titles. Even though in some areas Comcast competes with Netflix, Meyer said the company approved that transaction. “They all want to make money and not look stupid,” said Meyer. “We all want to make money.”
Otherwise, he noted, he would be out of a job.