Disney and Jerry Bruckheimer have opted not to renew their first-look deal, which will expire next year. The Disney-Bruckheimer relationship goes back to the 1990s, and marks one of the most successful Hollywood partnerships of the last two decades. It might have continued, thanks to such deluxe franchises as “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “National Treasure,” but this train wreck was inevitable following Bruckheimer’s recent pricey flops, from “Prince of Persia,” “G-Force,” and “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” to “The Lone Ranger,” which could yield as much as a $190 million write-off for the studio.
Where once the studio relied on Bruckheimer as their go-to tentpole producer, now after such big buys as Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm, they just don’t need him anymore. He has enjoyed a very rich deal all these years; he’s expensive.
Bruckheimer will still produce one-offs for Disney, although the sequel to “Pirates of the Caribbean” has been pulled back for rewrites, and will proceed, along with the third installment of “National Treasure,” under more fiscal control from studio president Alan Horn.
Thanks to such hits as “The Rock,” “Con Air,” “Armageddon” and “Pearl Harbor,” Bruckheimer can claim that his output has netted some $3.4 billion for Disney at the domestic box office. Bruckheimer’s spin is that he’s looking to produce “more mature” films, he tells Variety, that would fall outside the Disney family wheelhouse. I’d like to see him return to such quality dramas as “Return of the Titans” and “Black Hawk Down.” As one tweeter suggested, this could be just the kick in the pants he needs.
But clearly the producer saw the writing on the wall, as he is already developing projects elsewhere, from a “Bad Boys” entry at Sony to a “Top Gun” sequel at Paramount, where he may also do a fourth “Beverly Hills Cop.”
When in doubt, fall back on past glory.