Universal CEO: 3D makes bad movies 'palatable'

Universal CEO: 3D makes bad movies 'palatable'
Want to do 3D well? Get a Cameron-sized budget

In what has to be one of the most candid and honest rants from a movie CEO in years, Universal chief Ron Meyer has revealed all about the rubbish films his company makes and how 3D can make some awful movies 'palatable'.

Using words too rude to be printed here, Meyer admits that a number of the movies Universal has made in recent years have been, er, below par – he cites Wolfman and Babe 2 – but believes that new-ish cinema gimmicks like 3D should be used with caution, even though they can improve bad films.

"I'm not a believer that every film should be 3D," Meyer explained to an audience at the Savannah Film Festival.

"I think there's a place for it; I think certain films lend themselves to it. Warner Bros. did Journey to the Center of the Earth; that movie would have never worked had it not been 3D.

"The only thing that made that film palatable at all was the 3D aspect."

3D money maker

While praising what James Cameron did with Avatar, Meyer did note that those without Cameron's money (ie, everyone) should think twice about using 3D liberally but there is some scope for the technology.

"None of us would be able to do, or afford, what Jim Cameron was able to do with Avatar," Meyer said.

"Avatar was everything money could buy and we can't afford to be in that business. He spent a lot of money, he did a brilliant job… you were inside that movie and that's what made it work. You were surrounded by that film.

"I think 3D has a limited capacity, but a capacity. I don't think all films should be 3D and we should be careful about falling for that."

No demand for on demand?

Meyer also revealed that he still holds out hope for simultaneous cinema and VOD releases, even though a trial with recent Universal movie Tower Heist was less than successful.

The reason the Tower Heist VOD trial was abandoned was because some cinema owners boycotted the movie, believing that this closing of the cinema-to-home window would severely damage ticket sales.

Meyer is still hopeful that something could work in the future, however, saying: "I think there are a lot of people who won't go to the theatre and are happy to pay a premium price – whether $66 is the right price, or it's more or less.

"I think there are people that would be willing to pay that price to not have to leave their house and be able to watch that first-run movie while it's still in theatres, on whatever size screen you have at home.

"We have to be better about it, the studios, and the theatre exhibitors have to probably be a little more accepting of what we want to do. We'll have to find a way to do it together."

Head over to Movieline for the full transcript, which is very much worth a read. Especially if you want to read a CEO of a film company rip into many of his own movies.

Marc Chacksfield

Marc Chacksfield is the Editor In Chief, Shortlist.com at DC Thomson. He started out life as a movie writer for numerous (now defunct) magazines and soon found himself online - editing a gaggle of gadget sites, including TechRadar, Digital Camera World and Tom's Guide UK. At Shortlist you'll find him mostly writing about movies and tech, so no change there then.