Why Hollywood Fails


By no-one’s imagination has it been a fine year for Hollywood movies, but Ron Meyer, Universal’s outspoken chief, may just have had his Gerald Ratner* moment, labelling his studio’s output as ‘crappy’ and ‘junk’. In the new Variety he describes ‘Cowboys & Aliens’ as ‘not good enough’ and ‘mediocre’, and ‘Land of the Lost’ as ‘crappy’, but later parts of the interview are even more depressing.

He explains that when his bosses, corporates from Comcast, came to town, they’d dressed Universal to look more like a film studio, with actors in costumes and people pushing sets about. Then as soon as the suits had gone, Universal would go back to being a boring regular company. But the most depressing quote is this one;

‘It’s great to win awards and make films 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.’

There’s a play by Kaufman & Hart (later turned into a very bleak musical by Stephen Sondheim) called ‘Merrily We Roll Along’, which goes backwards through a man’s career, starting as he addresses his old high school as a rich businessman. In his speech he horrifies the innocent young by defeatedly warning them not to try and make successes of themselves, because life will beat them. Maybe Universal should film it. With added dancing chipmunks and exploding aliens, of course.

*Jeweller Ratner described his products as ‘crap’ at a conference. There was a journalist in the audience who reported it, and the company went bust overnight.

One comment on “Why Hollywood Fails”

  1. Jon R says:

    A possibly pedantic note, but I think it’s interesting: Ratners did not go bust. It did lose an awful lot of value, and Gerald Ratner had to resign, but the firm rebranded and is now the largest “speciality retail jeweller” in the world, worth billions of dollars. Several of the large High Street chains are actually Ratners in disguise – for example, H. Samuel and Ernest Jones.

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