“Morgan Creek” probably isn’t a phrase you’ve thought about in years slash ever, unless you think a lot about production companies. When you read the list of films produced by Morgan Creek, it can feel a little bit like walking through a video store in late 1996, say around Thanksgiving, when you’re trying to find a movie that can satisfy you, your parents, your little cousins, and your great uncle who will probably fall asleep after the first 20 minutes anyhow. There are beloved comedies (Major League, Ace Ventura) and their terrible sequels. Legitimate classics (The Last of the Mohicans, True Romance) and forgotten non-movies (Two If by Sea, Trial By Jury). Morgan Creek was behind Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, and it had a hand in Battlefield Earth. Remember Chill Factor? If you remember Chill Factor, you remember Morgan Creek.
The company got quieter in the 2000s — its most notable addition to the canon is the bizarre fact that the studio made the same terrible Exorcist prequel twice. Yesterday, Deadline reported that Morgan Creek was looking to sell the rights to its 78 films. This is a roundabout way of getting to the company’s ultimate goal: Remaking Morgan Creek’s past, to save Morgan Creek’s future. Ace Ventura, Major League, and The Exorcist are all specifically mentioned as potential salvage reboots, although the company also wants to retain the remake rights to Young Guns, a movie about various sons of Martin Sheen playing various cowboys.
We know what’s about to happen. Development updates. Some plucky young director, hired to do the Abrams thing (make it hip!) or the Nolan thing (make it dark!). Casting news. Social media anger over casting news. The general promise by all involved that they are going to honor the franchise and the fanbase. Instagram photos of Charlie Sheen on the set of the new Major League. A tweet from Jim Carrey: “Good luck [actor who isn’t Jim Carrey but who will play Ace Ventura now]!” Ultimate disappointment when the Major League movie is worse than Back to the Minors; ultimate denouement when Morgan Creek promises that the disappointing grosses for Exorcist Zero will be amortized by the Chinese grosses.
Here’s an idea: Do the opposite. I’m not saying don’t remake these movies. This is the age we live in, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Or maybe everything is wrong with everything, and the only sane thing to do is the craziest thing to do. Don’t just remake Ace Ventura and Major League and The Exorcist and Young Guns. Remake them all — as the same movie.
The shared-universe concept is a notion that went mainstream via careful curation. Marvel Studios ever-so-carefully built towards The Avengers across pre-spinoffs — helped along by a decade of superhero films that normalized the concept. Now, everyone is trying to imitate that concept: Witness the Transformers writers’ room. But there’s no reason to be so precious about the shared universe as a model. Batman and Superman didn’t start off living in the same universe: They were just created by the same company. (They first met on a radio show.)
Our wiki culture loves to cultivate the fictional histories of non-universes, but you could counter-argue that the “shared universe” makes more sense as pure-capitalist act of financial incentive. Just look at The LEGO Movie, a monument of cross-promotion that throws Green Lantern and Gandalf and Han Solo and cowboys and astronauts into the same slipstream pooey-verse.
Put it this way: Do you want to see another movie about a Pet Detective? Probably not. But don’t you maybe want to see a movie about a Pet Detective who gets in over his head when he realizes that the cute puppy he’s trying to find…has been possessed by the Devil? Who else can he call, but Father Damien Karras, tormented priest-turned-Catholic Avenger? What happens when Ace and Father Karris need to call upon older, stranger powers… like, say, the power of Jobu?
Bringing in the Cleveland Indians would fit in nicely with the Ace Ventura canon. Ace has worked with major sports teams before — he saved the Miami Dolphins’ dolphin! — and it would fill out the supporting cast with eclectic characters, all of whom would get possessed by the demon in their own hilarious way.
In deference to contemporary sensibilities, the Major League reboot-within-a-reboot could be all-female. Just like in the original Major League, the team’s owner wants the Indians to lose terribly so they can sell the team to Miami. Unlike in the original Major League, the team’s owner hires all-female players, a shameless publicity scam which backfires when the newly possessed players start winning every game. I’m talking Ricki “Wild Thing” Vaughn, played by Nasim Pedrad. I’m talking Wilhelmina “Willie” Mays Hayes, played by Jessica Williams. I’m talking crusty former college softball coach Luisa “Lou” Brown, played by Dame Helen Mirren.
Because the demon in The Exorcist never really made much sense to begin with, it seems only logical that the demon would start opening up a wormhole to other timelines — let’s say in right field. This would make it almost too easy to bring in Billy the Kid, Robin Hood, and Last of the Mohicans‘ Hawkeye, who would be understandably perturbed by Cleveland Indians’ mascot. Said wormhole would also make nostalgia-baiting appearances easier, since all the stars of the original movies could replay their original characters in Earth-1 cameos.
I’m joking? I’m not joking. Announcing The Exorcist Meets Ace Ventura: Young Guns in the Major League would fit right in to the upcoming onslaught of Justice League-mashing, Godzilla vs. King Kong-clashing, Universal Monster-remixing movie mash-ups. It would allow Morgan Creek to smash together eight or nine different tiny-to-miniscule fanbases into one slightly larger curiosity-factor fanbase. It would definitely not be the worst Exorcist movie, or even the fourth-worst Exorcist movie. It would allow Morgan Creek to simultaneously parody the excess of modern blockbusters while also reaping the rewards of same — just like the LEGO Movie!
The risk is high. The reward? Higher. Fulfill your destiny, Morgan Creek. Become the shared universe we deserve.