There’s a bit of a “what’s this about?” feeling behind Lorenza Munoz‘s L.A. Times examination of the daunting tasks facing Universal’s co-chairman Marc Shmuger, and particularly the industry view (which she seems to personally endorse) that marketing guys like Shmuger and Disney’s Oren Aviv running the show at two major studios is a bad trend. I mean, you can feel the agenda when she takes a swipe at Shmuger for “using cold business terms such as the ‘product line.'”
I’m not saying that marketing guys-running-the-big-studios is necessarily a wonderful trend either, but here’s what I think may have happened. Munoz and her editors mainly wanted to go after Aviv, in part because she and her editors were angered and alarmed when Dick Cook picked Aviv to suddenly replace Nina Jacobson last week (everyone was upset about this), and also because Aviv was disingenuous with N.Y. Times reporter Laura Holson the other day about the circumstances leading up to his being offered the job, and because he said “I want to make movies like The Pacifier,” but there’s nothing to really nail him for so she went after Shmuger instead. It’s just a theory, but at least it explains the “why?” behind her piece.
The topical opportunity. obviously, is Michael Mann’s Miami Vice, which opens on 7.28. There’s a graph in which Munoz all but forecasts Vice‘s failure, and you get the idea she’s not exactly dispassionate about the idea of Shmuger struggling and possibly failing to get this richly aromatic crime film off the ground. Calling it Uni’s “biggest gamble,” she notes that Vice “cost $140 million to make…but given the somewhat tepid tracking with audiences so far, the film could have difficulty turning a quick profit despite a $50 million marketing and publicity campaign.”