ShoWest kudo reflects producer's audience appeal

For more than three decades, uber-producer Jerry Bruckheimer has racked up hit after hit — earning more than $125 billion worldwide — to emerge as one of the most successful producers Hollywood has ever seen.While critics scoff and tastemakers gleefully predict failure with many of his films, he has his finger on the mass audience’s pulse, and they flock to his high-concept event movies that never fail to deliver stars, spectacle and laughs.

“I always try to come at things from a different angle and see them differently,” says the Detroit-born former adman, “and I just pick projects that excite me and that I want to see. I just go by my gut instinct.”

Case in point: last year’s $120 million hit “G-Force,” which Bruckheimer greenlit after rookie director Hoyt Yeatman couldn’t get interest. Then there was Tom Cruise’s first megahit.

” ‘Top Gun’ was another project I always believed in, even though people passed on it at first,” Bruckheimer recalls. “Same with ‘Beverly Hills Cop.’ We worked on that a long time until we got it made. You just have to be very persistent.”

Since then, Bruckheimer has honed his Midas touch, gradually eschewing more marginal projects (think “Coyote Ugly”) in favor of blockbuster tentpoles like “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “National Treasure.”

“But it never gets easier to get projects off the ground, especially now,” he cautions. “Each one’s got its own challenges and problems to solve.”

Even so, the year ahead looks pretty good for Bruckheimer.

“We have Johnny Depp signed and hope to start the next ‘Pirates’ this June,” he reports. “And we have ‘Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time’ (think PG-13 ‘Arabian Nights’ meets ‘The Lord of the Rings’) coming out Memorial Day weekend. We’re also finishing ‘The Sorcerer’s Apprentice’ starring Nic Cage, and working on a bunch of TV pilots. And we’ve started a games division.”

Will Bruckheimer ever slow down? “Not as long as I love what I do, and I love being a producer.”

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