The Walt Disney Studios and Jerry Bruckheimer have decided not to renew their first-look deal when it expires next year, ending a relationship that’s been one of Hollywood’s more successful partnerships since the 1990s.
The studio said it will continue to focus on its branded franchise films from the Disney, Pixar, Marvel and now Lucasfilm banners, while Bruckheimer is looking to produce a slate of “more mature” pics outside the scope of the Disney brand. Translation: there just wasn’t room for Bruckheimer in the Mouse House anymore.
Disney’s move to make films that are franchise friendly for not only the multiplex but also TV, theme parks and Disney’s consumer products division wound up giving Bruckheimer few options for more adult fare that he’s been developing for years. Those projects include an adaptation of Lorenzo Carcaterra’s 1997 novel “Apaches,” about renegade cops in New York City who take the law into their own hands.
The film was recently pulled from the summer 2015 release schedule in order to improve the script. A third “National Treasure,” among other projects are still in development at the studio with Bruckheimer’s film banner. The “Pirates” franchise has gone on to earn more than $5.4 billion worldwide for Disney.
The move was announced Thursday evening.
Variety first reported that the prolific producer would meet with Disney beginning next month over whether to renew his current deal. But the decision to end their relationship came sooner than expected. It follows this summer’s disappointing performance of “The Lone Ranger,” which is forcing Disney to write off as much as $190 million in losses.
Together, Disney and Bruckheimer produced major tentpoles like the “Pirates” pics, “Pearl Harbor,” “Armageddon,” “Con Air” and “The Rock,” which were mostly released through the Touchstone label. Touchstone is now used to distribute DreamWorks’ live action films. But Bruckheimer’s films aren’t as successful as they once were, with “Lone Ranger,” “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” and “G-Force” all pricey stumbles at the worldwide box office.
Still Bruckheimer’s films have earned more than $3.4 billion for Disney at the domestic box office, alone.
“Jerry is one of the most respected and prolific producers working in the motion picture industry, and we have had an incredibly successful collaboration over the past two decades and he is a friend to many of us here at Disney,” said Alan Horn, chairman of the Walt Disney Studios. “We will continue to work together in the future, and we look forward to seeing more of the films that have made Jerry Bruckheimer a Hollywood legend.”
Bruckheimer already had been setting up several projects elsewhere.
He has another “Bad Boys” in development at Sony, where he made “Black Hawk Down,” and Sony’s Screen Gems will release his Eric Bana thriller “Beware the Night.” He also is developing a “Top Gun” sequel at Paramount and is likely to come aboard the studio’s next “Beverly Hills Cop,” the fourth installment in that franchise.
“I am very appreciative of the wonderful collaboration and support I have had at the Walt Disney Company for over twenty years and the 27 movies we have made together,” Bruckheimer said. “The good news is we will continue working together on ‘Pirates of the Caribbean,’ ‘National Treasure’ and other projects we have developed together at the studio. I am thankful to have had the opportunity to work with these amazing people at The Walt Disney Studios, many of whom have become my good friends. As we continue to make adventure films, we look forward to returning to films like ‘Black Hawk Down,’ ‘Enemy of the State,’ ‘Beverly Hills Cop,’ and ‘The Rock.’”