Hollywood isn't crying over Jerry Bruckheimer's recent duds
I don't think anyone in Rockford, Ill., is losing any sleep over whether Jerry Bruckheimer has hit the skids or not. But in Hollywood, where dissecting other people's failures is something of a national pastime, the knives are out for the veteran producer, who has had a rocky last 18 months, what with the disastrous opening of "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" coming on the heels of a series of relative duds, including "The Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time," "G-Force" and "Confessions of a Shopaholic."
I say relative, since even "Prince of Persia," which has been labeled a flop, has actually made $325.7 million worldwide, which is nothing to sneeze at. But it's still a dud by Bruckheimer standards, and also by the standards of your typical costly Hollywood summer behemoths, which when you factor in their immense overseas grosses, are now routinely topping the $400-million mark.
What makes things bad for Bruckheimer is that he's been wrapped up in his self-contained world for so long that outside of his close friends, the legion of craftsmen who work on his movies and longtime Disney loyalists, he doesn't have a lot of people rooting for him. In Hollywood, if you're successful, people envy your success and root for you to fail. It's in every bit of showbiz DNA. If you're a super-nice guy, not quite as many people are rooting against you, but the envy factor is still there. If you aim high, you also have a few more fans, since everyone admires the tenacity and dream power it takes to try to make an artistic or ambitious film. But when you're just making assembly line-style crowd-pleasers, as Bruckheimer unashamedly does, you don't have much of a cheering section, since no one cuts you any slack for making movies that are just made to make money.
As for those Disney loyalists, they seem to be few and far between these days, especially judging from this surprisingly blunt Hollywood Reporter piece ("Has Jerry Bruckheimer Lost His Touch?"), which in its third graph has a Disney insider musing: "No producer can have four flops and have there be no repercussions." What those repercussions will be, no one can say for sure. But you have to wonder if the Bruckheimer Movie -- a film with big action sequences, loads of special effects, a recognizable star, but precious little character development or narrative surprises -- has lost its allure with younger audiences, who have now been raised on a far more sophisticated Pixar-style brand of storytelling.
It's clear that Disney is going in a very different direction with its entire approach to making movies. Maybe it's time for Bruckheimer to reinvent himself as well. Scott Fitzgerald was way too pessimistic when he said that there are no second acts in American lives, since in show business people reinvent themselves all the time.
Photo: Jerry Bruckheimer at a benefit screening of "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" earlier this month at Disney Studios. Credit: Robyn Beck / AFP / Getty Images