Are Universal Pictures losing their pluck?

It appears that Universal Pictures are having a bit of a commitment scare at the moment. They’ve entered into a relationship with all the promises of long-term commitment; designating sock drawers, enduring the in-laws, scheduling the wedding…but then they slink off when their partner orders the most expensive napkins. Back in July we learnt that, after several worrying delays in the production phase, Universal finally pulled the plug on the elaborate Stephen King adaptation of The Dark Tower series. Perhaps the grand scale of the adaptations (three feature films and two TV series) scared them off. Indeed, they have reported that their reason for departure was due to finances rather than creative.

Perhaps a theme is developing. In August we learnt that Universal had ditched plans to produce the supernatural adventure film Ouija, penned by the team behind Tron: Legacy. Again, Universal claimed it was too expensive to produce. This raises the question as to whether Universal have lost their confidence in big-budget movies?

Until recently, cautious was definitely not a word used to describe Universal. The studios invested a hefty sum into Edgar Wright’s weirdly wonderful Scott Pilgrim vs. The World which sadly bombed big time at the box office. It was reported that Universal acknowledged that the film would flop, but they were so impressed with Wright’s work that they didn’t care. Seems like they care now.

Yet glance at their output for the next few years and you’ll discover a healthy mix of modernised adaptations (Snow White and The Huntsman, Guillermo del Toro’s Frankenstein), riskier options (Ted, Sinatra) and done-to-death sequels like The Fast and the Furious 6 (sigh).

Maybe they’re just going through a rough patch? What do you think?

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