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A version of this story first appeared in the Oct. 16 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
Universal Pictures already has broken the calendar-year studio box-office record in 2015, keyed by the success of Jurassic World and Furious 7. But during a Sept. 30 talk with THR’s Stephen Galloway at Loyola Marymount University as part of the School of Film and Television’s The Hollywood Masters series, NBCUniversal vice chairman Ron Meyer recalled a year that also could have been one for the record books.
Asked about his regrets, the normally press-averse Meyer said he has only one: “Early on, I said no to Titanic. That was my colossal error. You know, I’m just getting over it.”
Then-film head Casey Silver and studio owner Edgar Bronfman Jr. share the blame for losing out on James Cameron‘s 1997 hit that grossed nearly $2.2 billion worldwide, but Meyer said he took responsibility for passing on the project, on which Paramount and Fox partnered. One factor, he said, was that he remembered the number of Titanic-themed films that had failed. “It was my learning period still,” said Meyer, 71. “I’ll take the blame. I could’ve said yes.”
Though Universal’s fortunes have changed for the better, Meyer jokes that other breakout movies still give him pause. “Of course I regret every movie we ever said no to that was a hit,” he laughs.
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