Neal Moritz, Producer

Neal Moritz is the founder of Original Film and one of Hollywood’s most prolific producers. Best known for the Fast & Furious films, including Furious 7, which broke multiple box office records to become one of the top 10 highest-grossing movies of all time. Moritz has produced over 70 major motion pictures, which have earned a total of over $11 billion worldwide.

The only opinion that really counts

Kevin Goetz and Neal jump right into the importance of audience research as Kevin asks Neal which test screenings stand out for him. Neal discusses the audience screen testing process as what, for him, could be the best night of his life, an okay night, or a terrible night as he awaits the results. They discuss significant changes to Escape Room and how the audience reacted to the highly publicized redrawing of the Sonic the Hedgehog character.

Neal Moritz on test screening a new movie

I’m so excited for the first test screening, but I am definitely the most nervous I’ve ever been when you put that movie up for the first time in a dark room where it doesn’t matter how many movies you’ve made, how many billions of dollars your movies have grossed, the audience is just reacting to what they see on the screen that time.

The most important question asked in an audience screening

Neal identifies the most critical question in an audience test screening as:
Which character do you like the most, and would you definitely recommend this movie?
This leads to an enlightening discussion about the questions asked during audience research, how to sift through the noise, and how the findings can lead to essential changes in the films being screened.

Screening Furious 7 after the tragic passing of a star

Neal recalls his most memorable screening. Neal describes the decision to continue filming Furious 7 after Paul Walker’s tragic passing. Neal shares the fear and nervousness he felt while finishing the movie. Kevin and Neal discuss the iconic final scene and how the audience’s emotional reaction at the test screening proved that Moritz and the studio made the right decision.

Neal on Paul Walker and screening Furious 7

I remember standing in the lobby waiting for the results of the test screening, and some audience members came up to us and thanked me for making this movie. I had forgotten that as close as Paul was to me, and to the cast and crew, and how much we cared about him, I forgot how he meant the same to the audience. And they needed the closure as much as we did. It was truly one of the most fulfilling things I’ve ever done in my life, where people were like, thank you for doing this for me.

Neal’s favorite genre

Neal talks about the challenges he enjoys when producing action movies. He discusses 21 Jump Street and how the combined use of action and comedy makes this his favorite type of movie to produce.

How a canvas backpack led to a Hollywood career

Neal tells the story of how he got started in Hollywood. He talks about his childhood growing up in a family-owned movie theater, becoming an entrepreneur selling canvas backpacks that he saw in China, and his decision to sell his company to become a producer.

The future of the film industry

Kevin and Neal discuss the moviegoing experience in the face of the rise of streaming companies like Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu. Neal talks about the value of seeing a movie in the theater and how he decides which of his projects should be released theatrically versus streaming. The conversation turns to the economics of moviemaking and the value of having a proven producer attached to a film project.

Kevin Goetz on the new economy of moviemaking

But you and I did speak about this in the past where we come together on the fact that this is a world of the haves and have-nots in terms of theatrical movie going and that there are maybe more people that will actually go to see movies, but they’re seeing far, far fewer films.

Join Kevin and his guest, Neal Moritz, one of the most successful producers of all time. Listen in on their wide-ranging discussion of audience research and how it has helped Neal shape his movies into audience-pleasing blockbusters. Learn about the economics of moviemaking in the rise of streaming as Neal lets the listener in on some of his moviemaking secrets. Listen in on this fascinating discussion, and enjoy some insider stories on Kevin’s podcast, Don’t Kill the Messenger!

Don’t Kill the Messenger, hosted by movie and entertainment research expert Kevin Goetz, brings his book Audienceology to life. This bi-monthly podcast takes a peek behind the filmmaking curtain as Kevin talks with famous filmmakers, studio executives, stars, and other creatives about movies, filmmaking, audience test screenings, and much more.

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