John Davis, Producer

Kevin Goetz is joined by John Davis, a renowned producer and the founder of Davis Entertainment, a powerhouse production company that has left an indelible mark on the film and television industry. With an impressive list of credits to his name, Davis has consistently delivered captivating projects that have resonated with audiences worldwide. From high-octane action blockbusters like Predator, I, Robot, and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. to heartwarming family favorites like Dr. Dolittle and Garfield, Davis has demonstrated an exceptional range and an eye for engaging storytelling. In addition to his success in film, Davis has made significant contributions to television as an executive producer on critically acclaimed series such as The Blacklist and The Player. With Davis Entertainment as his platform, he continues to push boundaries, captivate audiences, and shape the future of storytelling in film and television.

Entrepreneurship and John’s Secret Sauce

John discusses his love for entrepreneurship and how he sees producing movies as similar to starting a new company. John credits his success to having mass taste and understanding what audiences want to see.

I have mass taste. I have taste that is very common to large numbers of people in this country and internationally. And that has helped me in the movie business.

– John Davis

Giving Back

John and Kevin discuss the importance of giving back and how John and his wife have been passionate about providing scholarships and supporting educational institutions. Kevin emphasizes the importance of giving underrepresented individuals an opportunity to shine and mentions his own humble background as a self-made entrepreneur.

Grumpy Old Men

John shares the determined process of getting this hit film made, including committing to produce another movie just to get Walter Matthau on board.

Audience Reactions and Test Screenings

John and Kevin discuss the role of audience reactions in shaping a movie’s success and share stories of screening experiences that made a significant impact, including how testing Jungle Cruise changed the movie for the better.

On test screening Jungle Cruise

I could tell from the first number of tests that audiences really liked the movie. They really connected to it, but something was keeping them from embracing it. And what often happens is it’s the end of the movie, because you and I both know, the last 15 minutes of a movie is the most important. It has a disproportionate impact on how people perceive and remember and like their experience.

Waterworld: A Challenged Production

John discusses his involvement in the film Waterworld and addresses the controversy and difficulties it faced.

The Value of Missed Opportunities

John reveals some movies and businesses that slipped through his fingers, including a script that went on to become a blockbuster hit. The pair discuss the valuable lessons John learned from these missed opportunities and their influence on future decision-making.

On learning from failure:

You never know how a movie’s going to turn out, and failure can never scare you. Right after some of my biggest failures, I’ve had my biggest hits in the food business or in the movie business or in the TV business.

Personal Favorites

John reveals three movies that hold a special place in his heart and encapsulate his journey as a producer. He talks about the impact and significance of Dolomite, Predator, and Grumpy Old Men on his career and personal growth.

On persistence and negotiating:

Never get frustrated and quit. Get frustrated and upset and then get up the next morning and hit it hard again, because I think that will distinguish you from a large number of people, and that’s your leg up in this world. The other thing I teach them is if the front door is locked, figure out how to go in through the side door. There’s always a way in, you just can’t get frustrated, you have to actually figure out a new pathway.

Tune in for a candid conversation with renowned producer and entrepreneur John Davis as he shares captivating stories and valuable insights from his prolific career. Join us as we explore the art of negotiation, the power of perseverance, and the lessons learned from both successes and failures.

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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