On the eve of the opening of "The Secret Life of Pets" on 4,300 screens, the latest release from Universal Pictures Illumination Entertainment unit, NBCUniversal Vice Chairman Ron Meyer sat down for an exclusive interview with CNBC at the annual Sun Valley conference.
The self-described optimist said he's confident that Universal will be able to live up to a bar that's higher than ever. "The audience is smarter and more demanding, and expecting better from us, and I think we have to deliver," said Meyer.
"I think we're all prepared to do that."
That challenge of cutting through the clutter is one reason NBCUniversal bought DreamWorks Animation. "We love the animation business and having a second animation company ensures that we'll have four films a year," said Meyers. Plus, DreamWorks Animation "has a great TV business, characters and attractions for our parks," said Meyer. "There's a tremendous amount of synergy."
But as NBCUniversal waits for the deal to close, Universal has a strong slate, Meyer said. He points to the recent success of low-budget "Purge: Election Year," the upcoming "Jason Bourne" film and this weekend's "The Secret Life of Pets," which has an 84 percent critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Still, he had no illusions that Universal could possibly live up to its record-setting 2015. "Last year, as of the moment, we had the highest business of any studio in history, so we're not going to reach last year's number."
Meyer was bullish about the ongoing performance of the company's theme parks: "The parks business keeps growing," he said. "We're going to build a park in China. Our park in Japan is doing great business. ... We're not seeing any slowdown at all. We have a great well-priced product and people are enjoying it."
As for concerns that a Brexit will prompt a slowdown in the European economy that could hit Universal's overseas box-office revenue, he said it was too soon to say what the impact would be. And based on recent performance Meyer said he's bullish on the health of the consumer, especially when it comes to spending on Universal's movies and theme parks.
Disclosure: NBCUniversal is the parent company of CNBC and CNBC.com.
Correction: An earlier version of this misstated the name of Universal Pictures Illumination Entertainment.