Universal President: ‘Cowboys & Aliens’ Sucked, ‘Scott Pilgrim’ was ‘Kind of Good’
Speaking at a film festival at Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, Georgia, Ron Meyer, the President and Chief Operating Officer of Universal Studios, told what surely very few of the assembled students expected to hear from the longtime Hollywood studio head: the truth. “We make a lot of sh***y movies,” said Meyer. “Every one of them breaks my heart.” Among the failures Meyer discussed was Cowboys & Aliens, the Jon Favreau film inspired by the comic book project devised by Platinum Studios, a movie which Meyer described as “crappy” and “mediocre.”
But when it came to the cult favorite Edgar Wright film Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, based on the popular Oni Press graphic novels by Bryan Lee O’Malley, Meyer spoke in relatively glowing terms: “Scott Pilgrim, I think, was actually kind of a good movie” and it “deserved better.”As detailed by Movieline, the focus of Meyer’s discussion with the SCAD students was Universal’s various missteps and controversies, such as a recent scheme to offer the Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy film Tower Heist as a video-on-demand just two weeks after its debut in cinemas. Meyer’s remarks about the dubious quality of some of his studio’s films are startlingly honest, and of particular interest to those of us predisposed to enjoy genre films like Wolfman (“One of the worst movies we ever made,” said Meyer) or those based on (or “based on”, as the case may be with Cowboys & Aliens) comic books, such as Cowboys & Aliens and Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World. As we’ve written about before, whenever such a movie performs poorly at the box office, we’re forced to endure the tired media narrative that the “comic book film genre” is waning in popularity and influence generally, as opposed to the more demonstrable notion that some movies, comic booky or not, just suck, or that some movies are perhaps just not for everybody.
Meyer’s remarks would seem to bear that out:
Scott Pilgrim, I think, was actually kind of a good movie. [Addressing a small section of the audience, cheering.] But none of you guys went! And you didn’t tell your friends to go! But, you know, it happens.
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, and it was one of those things where it didn’t cost a lot so it wasn’t a big loss. Cowboys & Aliens was a big loss, and Land of the Lost was a huge loss. We misfired. We were wrong. We did it badly, and I think we’re all guilty of 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.
Unlike Cowboys & Aliens, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World was critically acclaimed upon its release and continues to cultivate its audience on home video. Auspiciously, the film recently began an indefinite residency at Hollywood’s famous New Beverly Cinema, the Quentin Tarantino-owned haven for fans of classic and cult films, where it screens at midnight every month.