Poor Universal, it's rapidly becoming the Corey Haim of major studios, just unable to catch a break in any way. It's latest film Green Zone an anti-Iraq war action film, which has Matt Damon battling sinister neo-cons, has flopped, and flopped hard, pretty much justifying the recent ouster of the executives who gave it the green-light.
The film did cost anywhere between an estimate $100-$130 million to make, and was released in over 3,000 theaters with a heavy ad-campaign that could only have cost tens of millions more. It's a huge flop by any way you measure it.
But the LA Times movie blogger Patrick Goldstein thinks that it's going to cost Universal a lot more than the $100+ million pissed away on Green Zone.
He thinks that Green Zone has effectively sunk the Bourne Franchise as well.
I think he's right. Universal sold the film as Bourne 4: The Bourne Colostomy, especially having the same star and director, in their ever present ad campaign, possibly in the hope of duping at least a good opening weekend for the movie before the usual Iraq movie ennui sank it.
But that didn't work.
In fact it failed miserably.
Universal, and its NBC-U parent company has more than its share of problems. Its once unassailable late night TV franchise became a joke, its prime-time was almost destroyed, the surprise negotiations to sell faux-indie division Focus Features fell through, and its purchase by Comcast is being debated by politicians, never a good thing.
So far the best ideas Universal Studios has is to do a remake of The Thing, which was already a remake, which flopped in theaters, only to be reborn on home video as a cult film.
Looks like the whole company needs to be shaken down from top to bottom and rebuilt with an all new management and philosophy.
But enough about Universal.
This news also bodes very ill for Matt Damon's career, he was only slightly better off in the movie star stakes than buddy George Clooney, because outside of the Ocean's movies, he had Jason Bourne being chased around by the CIA to justify his status (and salary) as a movie star.
Without Bourne zoned out, and the Ocean's franchise dried up, Damon is going to have to find something really crowd pleasing if he expects to keep getting his fat paychecks and pet projects made.
Because if he doesn't, and do it quick, he might find himself doing a series... for NBC!