We live in strange times. A red-haired thirtysomething British man with the face of a Roman consul is beating all B.O expectations with his latest cerebral action drama, and Jerry Bruckheimer, our clean-cut and celebrated big-shot producer who survived his partnership with Don Simpson and lined up one hit after monstrous hit since is in trouble, spelled out to the tune of multimillion dollar losses.
The straw that may break the camel’s back for Bruckheimer’s role with Disney is the disappointing performance of “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” which cost Disney 150M but more importantly was supposed to start a new franchise. Franchising is essential to the long-term prospects of top-tier studios like Disney, since one succesful tentpole, a financial buffer no longer, is not as interesting as a Godzilla-like franchise generating three or four blockbusters and slaying the box office everytime. That is how a studio remains viable and legitimate. The disappointment may lead to a possible writeoff of a 100M by Disney.
It’s slightly worrisome that Bruckheimer’s last three movies before also failed to trigger the hoped-for gold rush, but in Hollywood, relationships are everything to the success of a tentpole coproduction such as “Sorcerer’s Apprentice.” And if there’s one person who is the antithesis of the ill-reputed, wheeling and dealing and backstabbing Hollywood producer, it’s Jerry Bruckheimer. Ultimately, Disney will have to decide between writing off a major loss, both pecuniary and creative, and dispensing with one of the game’s most venerable players.
Ultimately, however, does it matter? It may. But Bruckheimer works with other studios and television and is perhaps Hollywood’s most prolific man. Can you guess how much “Pirates of the Caribbean” brought in? 2.74Bn.