Few producers in Hollywood have shaped the landscape of mainstream cinema as much as Jerry Bruckheimer, and there has rarely been a more successful partnership as him and Disney. Struck up in 1990 with an exec producer role on “The Ref,” Bruckheimer has delivered a slate of successful franchises and blockbuster one-offs, including “Armageddon,” “Bad Boys,” and most recently the “Pirates of the Caribbean” series; however, a less-than-stellar 2013 has cast doubts on the producer’s dynamic with Disney, and while the two powerhouses have now decided to split, the reasons behind it are not as clear-cut as initially thought.
The studio announced yesterday (via The Wrap) that they would not seek to renew their first-look deal with Bruckheimer, therefore allowing their longstanding partnership to expire next year in 2014. However, with the critical and financial sting delivered by “The Lone Ranger” still very present in both parties’ minds, the Gore Verbinski-directed western is apparently not the reason for the split; rather, it’s a matter of conflicts over future material. “Disney will continue to focus on its branded properties including Disney, Pixar, Marvel and now Lucasfilm,” says a studio statement, “while Bruckheimer is looking to produce more mature films outside the scope of the Disney brand.”
Bruckheimer furthered this explanation in a brief comment made to THR. “We have a full body of work with them. It’s not about ‘Lone Ranger’,” he said. “It’s more about the types of movies Disney is making, and the types of movies we want to make, in addition to ‘Pirates’.” The producer also said he expressed wishes to restart Touchstone Pictures, home to his more R-rated efforts including “The Rock” and “Con Air”, but Disney was apparently not on board with the idea.
It’s not a definite parting just yet–Disney and Bruckheimer still have “Pirates 5” ahead of them (delayed beyond its Summer 2015 release), along with the “National Treasure” films and other projects in development. But it’s always notable when a 20-years plus relationship such as this fades away, and we’ll soon see where Bruckheimer takes his ambitious plans for sequels to “Top Gun,” “Beverly Hills Cop,” and “Bad Boys” next. So breathe easy: Bruckheimer is as dedicated to franchise as ever, but we’ll see if his big-budget confidence carries over to an original property anytime soon without Disney’s help.