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Disney and Jerry Bruckheimer Part Ways After Almost Two Decades

Thompson on Hollywood By Anne Thompson and Beth Hanna | Thompson on Hollywood September 20, 2013 at 1:15PM

Disney and Jerry Bruckheimer have opted to 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.
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Jerry Bruckheimer
Jerry Bruckheimer

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. 

This article is related to: News, News, Jerry Bruckheimer, Walt Disney, Disney , Walt Disney Pictures


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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.