Posted February 16, 2018 06:23:51 The decision to leave Universal Pictures is not just about a one-year contract.
It’s also about the studio’s future.
“I want to be a part of something great,” said David Ellison, who plays the lead in the animated feature film, “Greed.”
Ellison is among several high-profile actors who signed on to return to the studio after the film’s November release.
Universal Pictures, which owns both “The Mummy” and “The Conjuring,” is not alone.
Many other Hollywood studios are exploring the possibility of rethinking their operations, especially as the film business continues to crumble in the U.S. and worldwide.
Some of those companies are exploring new ways to engage their audiences in a more interactive way, like Disney, DreamWorks Animation, Warner Bros. and Paramount.
“We’ve seen the market shift in the last few years, and I think that’s going to continue to evolve,” said Chris Mannix, senior vice president of media strategy for the Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Group, in an interview with Newsweek.
“In some ways, Universal Pictures has been one of the few places where that’s actually been possible.”
The studio was founded in 1931 and was one of Hollywood’s oldest studios.
The studio has released more than 500 feature films, including some of the most famous of them all, including “A Christmas Carol,” “Jaws,” “Dracula,” “The Godfather,” “Gone With the Wind” and more.
It also released “Dancing With the Stars,” “Frozen,” “Pirates of the Caribbean” and many more movies in the early and mid-20th century.
“There’s a lot of films that are coming out right now that are not really the same as the films that were released in the ’60s and ’70s,” said Mark Bittman, a professor at the University of Southern California’s Wharton School and an expert on Hollywood history.
“Universal’s not in a position to take that risk anymore.”
With its film portfolio and its worldwide footprint, Universal is the largest studio to produce a feature film.
“It has the capacity to do some very great work,” said Ellison, of “Greece Tourism,” in a conversation with Newsweek earlier this year.
“They’re very talented people, but the company is also very small.
It was a huge investment for them, and the studio is going to have to figure out what it is to be the studio of tomorrow.”
Ellison said he’d like to return as the lead character in “Geezers” in a feature that he feels will resonate with audiences.
“If you look at the ’70 and ’80s, there was this sense of nostalgia for movies that were coming out then,” he said.
“The fact that I’m coming back to a time when they had this sense that there was something for everyone is something I feel very strongly about.”
Ellison has yet to find a director for “Geeses,” and he has yet a new script to work on.
But if he does end up getting his wish, Ellison says he’ll look to work with director Chris Columbus.
“Chris Columbus is a great guy, he has great ideas and he’s a very good storyteller,” he told Newsweek.
“[He] brings a very visceral quality to the films, he’s really good with emotion.
It will be great to have him back on board.”
Columbus was one the original writers of “Fifty Shades of Grey,” which Ellison co-wrote.
“Feminist” writer-director Toni Morrison recently expressed her interest in directing Ellison to “Geees.”
“I’d love to be working with David and Chris,” she told “Good Morning America.”
“When I met with Chris Columbus a couple years ago, I had a vision of him being an excellent director and a great writer,” Morrison said in a statement.
“This film is an example of the kind of storytelling and emotion that he’s capable of.
I hope that I can be part of that process.”
Ellison plans to make his first film as an independent filmmaker and hopes to return with the same creative vision.
“Greese” is set for release on December 6.