Steven Spielberg may or may not be interested in reviving Jaws and Back to the Future. He directed the former and produced the latter. So, he has an obvious invested interest in both, but we don’t really know what Spielberg has in mind beyond his next three movies: Bridge of Spies (due Oct. 16), BFG (due July 1, 2016) and Read Player One (just started the casting process). Plus, he remains attached as an executive producer to the Transformers franchise. DreamWorks’ distribution deal with Disney expires after BFG, and the most likely future home for Spielberg’s production company is Universal.
Nothing that happened in the last 24 hours has changed any of that, yet you wouldn’t know that from Twitter and the online film community’s outsized response to yesterday’s THR piece about the future of DreamWorks. Here’s the quote in question:
Spielberg’s likely future home is Universal, where he has maintained his offices even as DreamWorks distributed its films through Paramount and then Disney. Spielberg, 68, who was a hands-on executive producer on Universal’s Jurassic World, is essential to future dinosaur movies (the next already is dated for June 2018) as well as associated theme-park attractions […] He also is key on potential reboots of other Universal franchises such as Jaws and Back to the Future. Universal declined to comment, as did DreamWorks. A Universal source says “the studio would welcome the chance to be DreamWorks’ distribution partner” but any deal is premature.
Maybe it’s just a matter of semantics, but there’s a big difference between saying Spielberg is “keen” to do something and saying he is “key on” something happening. The former implies intent whereas the latter merely restates the obvious. Obviously, if Universal wants to do something with the Jaws and Back to the Future franchises Spielberg will be an important member of the producing team much as he was with Jurassic World. As the existence of the various Jaws sequels indicates, Universal can (or at least they could at one time) make more movies in that franchise without Spielberg, but back when Jaws 2 was first meant to be a parody of the first Jaws Spielberg threw an understandable fit and Universal backed down and made a more straight-forward sequel. It’s clearly much better to make a Jaws movie which doesn’t actively anger Spielberg, though he must have stopped paying attention by the time of Jaws IV: The Revenge.
As for Back to the Future, both Bob Gale and Robert Zemekis have said on multiple occasions that they have the legal right to block a Back to the Future sequel/remake from happening, and they damn well intend to exercise that right should Universal ever be so foolish to try anything.
As far as I can tell, this is not a case of some insider leaking news to the press. This is a case of Kim Masters, a legendary entertainment journalist and author of the THR piece in question, merely pointing out one additional reason why DreamWorks moving to Universal in 2016 would make sense. She could have also pointed out that Spielberg began his career as a Universal Studios intern and worked exclusively for the studio up until making Close Encounters of the Third Kind with Columbia Pictures in 1977. Additionally, she could have thrown in E.T. and Batteries Not Included as additional Universal-controlled properties with a Spielberg-connection. It’s simply a case of connecting the dots.
Maybe Spielberg will end his career where he began, at Universal. Maybe he’d actually like to do something more with Jaws and Back to the Future. Maybe not. We definitely know that Spielberg is making more Jurassic World movies with Universal. Beyond that? No idea.