Movie executives are often willing to snark on other people's movies in private (or via Nikki Finke), but few studio chiefs are willing to speak honestly of the bad films they themselves green-lit. Enter Universal big boss Ron Meyer, who appeared at the Savannah Film Festival this week to light the fuse on a dazzling array of truth bombs. "We make a lot of shitty movies," Meyer told the crowd (according to Movieline). "Every one of them breaks my heart." In fact, Meyer can point to four misfires that haunt him in particular, and he broke down their failures in excruciatingly awesome detail.
The Wolfman: "One of the worst movies we ever made was Wolfman," said Meyer. "It's one of those movies, the moment I saw it I thought, 'What have we all done here?' That movie was crappy. [The cast] was awful. The director was wrong. Benicio [del Toro] stunk. It all stunk."
Babe: Pig in the City: In fact, said the studio chief, "Wolfman and Babe 2 are two of the shittiest movies we [ever] put out."
Cowboys & Aliens: Why did Jon Favreau's sci-fi Western struggle to reach $100 million? Meyer has a simple explanation. "Cowboys & Aliens wasn't good enough," he said. "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 ... 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. They're talented people. 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."
Land of the Lost: "Land of the Lost was just crap," sniffed Meyer of the expensive Will Ferrell bomb. "I mean, there was no excuse for it. The best intentions all went wrong ... 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."
Meyer did name two Universal films he loved, but even those came with caveats: "We did United 93, which is one of the movies I'm most proud of. It wasn't a big moneymaker," he admitted. "I don't know that we'd do A Beautiful Mind again. That's the sad part. It's great to win awards and make films that you're proud of and make money, but your first obligation is to make money and then worry about being proud of what you do."
Anyway: Savannah! Do you spike your Starbucks lattes with truth serum? Just curious.