Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Sharing The Rant

This was one of the responses to the Downfall of Universal Studios video posted over at /film.

I'm going to be diplomatic and not say whether I agree or not but I will say that it does bring up some valid points and really gives a good sense of the frustration I and some of my coworkers felt while working for a movie theme park that didn't seem to care about movies and entertainment as much as we did.

(And that Quantum Leap and BTTF stuff he mentions is just sacrilege.)

Universal is the absolute worst, WORST movie studio in all of Hollywood; (you getting that anyone from Uni that is reading this).

First, let’s discuss their theme parks. Like Hitler says, they keep replacing popular attractions with crap. And not just that, they keep bringing in other competing studio properties; THE SIMPSONS RIDE (Fox); TWISTER: RIDE IT OUT (Warner Bros.); MEN IN BLACK (Columbia); TERMINATOR 2: 3-D (Artisan).

In 2006, just weeks before Peter Jackson’s KING KONG hit theaters, the Florida park closed the Kong attraction. The ride may have been based on the 1976 film, but either way, they knew that a new movie was in-the-works, and they had plenty of time to refurbish it to match Jackson’s version. Even though they didn’t bother to do that, closing the attraction the same time the movie hit, call me nuts, but that’s just sheer stupidity.

Closing the BACK TO THE FUTURE RIDE; what a mistake that was. And even more so bringing in THE SIMPSONS. How long is that going to last? If you’re going to have a simulated flying-type of ride, wouldn’t it have made more sense to create a BATTLESTAR GALACTICA ride based on the new Sci-Fi series, a property Universal owns, rather than pay Fox for licensing THE SIMPSONS? Or closing the E.T. ride to replace with THE MUMMY rollercoaster; sorry Uni, but the Brendan Fraser MUMMY franchise will never have the longevity that E.T. has.

How about Bruce “The Shark” JAWS at the Hollywood park. You would think that after 30+ years, with all the advances in technology, they would consider refurbishing that shark. But then again, the JURASSIC PARK RIDE is only 10+ years old, and the way it’s looked after, I’m surprised it’s still standing.

Now how about they way Uni treats it’s catalog titles. If you seriously start to think of their library of titles, other than their Universal Monsters and the Spielberg/Amblin catalog, the studio is really lacking in a vast majority of celebrated movies. And even their popular ones, it’s not like the treat them with any respect.

BACK TO THE FUTURE as an example, the DVD’s were seriously lacking, as it’s well known in some circles that there are hours of material left on the floor, all because Uni didn’t want to have to spend any more money on a fourth disc. Even the framing issues of BTTF Part II & III on the DVD’s; Universal knew a good six months in advance about the widescreen framing problem, but they just tried to sweep in under the rug until the fans made a point of it once the discs were finally released; and that’s a fact, producer Bob Gale has and will continue to confirm it.

What about their television series on DVD; QUANTUM LEAP… Ray Charles’ song Georgia is used several times in the series, but because the studio didn’t want to pay for the license of the actual song, they’ve got some half-ass version that’s not even close to the original one on aired episodes. In-fact, most of Uni’s tv DVD’s are poorly transferred, awful menus, and crappy packaging. After the fire, with so many of their tv series gone up in flames, do you think we’ll ever see a lot of those classic tv series fully restored and re-released? I think not.

And before I write this, I just want to clarify that this is a rumor, and only a rumor, I can’t confirm this, but after the fire, there was a lot of rumbling that JURASSIC PARK was lost in the fire… 100% of it, negatives and all. Whether or not that was just the first film or the entire trilogy, if it is true, what a terrible loss.

In conclusion, Universal Studios has been going downhill ever since MCA sold the company in early 1990’s. Movie studios throughout the decades have always had their ups and downs, a clump of good films, a pile of bad ones. But Universal has been steadily declining in quality and management for quite some time now, and I fear will only get worse. It’s somewhat amazing, that just right across the street from Uni sits Warner Bros., who in my opinion, has been producing some great movies over the last few years; they celebrate and takes pride and care in their film library (BLADE RUNNER; CASABLANCA anyone). Both studios are owned by giant conglomerates, and yet their attitudes and overall establishments could be more different.

Universal, shape up or close down.

That’s my rant.

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