Yesterday Universal turned 100 years old. Today they announced a big deal with Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, writers of Transformers and Star Trek. Who needs a hundred more, anyway?
The first big project they have is working on the Mummy reboot that Jon Spaihts is writing. After that it's a redo of Van Helsing with Tom Cruise in the lead (Jesus Christ, who wants this? The original is so recent that the stink hasn't even begun to leave the joint). And then...?
I don't know that Jaws is off the table. Yes, on some level this is irresponsible speculation aimed at getting web hits. But I'm not just pulling this out of my ass, and I am feeling cynical enough about Hollywood to realistically harbor this fear.
See, here are the facts: Universal has this immense, popular and well-recognized brand that isn't really earning for them right now. They sell Blus and shirts and shit, but all of that would go through the roof if they had a new movie hitting theaters. And it isn't like Universal has been running Hollywood lately; they've had a rough few years. They can open animated movies, and the Fast and Furious films seem to be a cornerstone for them, but beyond that it's not looking great. They tried making good movies and that didn't work. Now they're making bad movies and we'll see how Battleship and Snow White do.
So here's Jaws, just guaranteeing a huge opening weekend domestic AND foreign. The franchise has been dead since 1987. Universal hasn't touched it for a very simple reason: it pisses off Steven Spielberg. Every one of the sequels upset him, and since he's the most powerful guy in Hollywood you don't want to piss him off (especially because he has his office ON the Universal lot). So while Universal could, legally, redo/sequelize Jaws any time they wanted to, they haven't out of respect for/fear of Spielberg.
Which is where Orci and Kurtzman come in. As part of JJ Abrams' powerful military-industrial-cinematic complex they have a good relationship with Spielberg... who produced their Cowboys & Aliens last year. Yeah, the film sucked AND was a failure, but that doesn't mean Spielberg hates the guys or anything (although maybe he does. I don't know enough gossip about these relationships to say one way or the other).
All Universal has to do is getting Steve's blessing. Not his involvement, not a legal sign off. Just a blessing, so that he doesn't bad mouth the movie in the press. Could Orci & Kurtzman get that blessing? Could they, leveraging relationships with Abrams and Damon Lindelof and other hip young Hollywood types, get Steve to simply nod acceptance? Quite possibly.
Maybe it'll never happen. But if you don't think this didn't pass through the minds of Universal's suits you're delightfully naive.