Cue the melancholy score because producer Jerry Bruckheimer’s long run at the Walt Disney Studios appears to be over. Late Thursday evening the Mouse House announced the studio and Bruckheimer had “mutually agreed” to end his first look deal. Yes, his string of recent, expensive misfires was the private excuse, but even the venerable producer must have seen this coming a long time ago. The age of the studio super-producer is simply over.
Intriguingly, the cracks in Bruckheimer’s golden touch began when he finally started to have success in television. His first big hit was the Emmy winning “The Amazing Race” in 2001.That was followed by venerable CBS dramas “Without a Trace,” “Cold Case” and, of course, the “C.S.I.” franchise. Those years also brought the lucrative “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “National Treasure” sequels, but also unexpected missteps such as “The Sorcer’s Apprentice” (easy to blame on a radical and now abandoned change in studio marketing) or “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” (which likely sat on the shelf way to long).
Stranger though was the fact Bruckheimer couldn’t get any original films off the ground under new studio chief Rick Ross. Like many of the producers on the lot at the time, Bruckheimer had a great relationship with former chief Dick Cook (whose firing was one of the worst mistakes Bob Iger has ever made). Ross, the former Disney Channel president, lasted barely over two years and one of the reasons he was let go was precisely because of how slow he was to get new films in the pipeline. Instead of the duo bonding over their long tenures with the company, the only picture they got greenlit was the fourth “Pirates” film, “On Stranger Tides.” That movie was one of the few blockbusters under Ross watch, but it was also a creative disaster earning some of the worst reviews of the year for any studio release and possibly damaging the franchise’s brand (already on tenuous ground after the previous two installments). And then, of course, this past summer’s “The Lone Ranger.”