Jerry Bruckheimer strikes out again with Cage flop

Tue Jul 20, 2010 3:16am EDT
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By Carl DiOrio

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Jerry Bruckheimer, of all people, shouldn't have to worry about maintaining a production deal. And Disney says he doesn't have to, with executives labeling the prolific filmmaker's lucrative arrangement with the studio as secure despite a recent string of theatrical misfires.

Yet whispers of a growing breach between the multibillion-dollar producer and his studio partner circulated in the aftermath of a disappointing $17.6 million first weekend for "The Sorcerer's Apprentice."

"No producer can have four flops and have there be no repercussions," one Disney insider mused.

Greenlighted by since-departed film boss Oren Aviv and studio chairman Dick Cook, "Sorcerer's Apprentice" cost at least $160 million to produce. Disney hoped it would launch a franchise akin to its four-picture "Pirates of the Caribbean" juggernaut.

The film looks likely to register just $60 million-$70 million domestically, suggesting a possible corporate write-off of up to $100 million unless the release dramatically overperforms overseas.

Its biggest problem: The presumed core audience isn't showing up. "Sorcerer's" seems unable to lure younger moviegoers, perhaps because of their preoccupation with "Despicable Me" and other recently released family films. About 55% of viewers were aged 25 or older.

Bruckheimer always will be beloved in the Magic Kingdom for producing three "Pirates" pictures that have rung up a mind-bending $2.75 billion in global boxoffice, and a 3D fourquel is set to hit theaters in May. He is now shooting "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" in Hawaii.

But the "Sorcerer's" misfire follows poor theatrical runs by May opener "The Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time," the July 2009 release "G-Force" and February 2009's "Confessions of a Shopaholic."   Continued...

<p>Cast members Jay Baruchel (L) and Nicolas Cage (2nd L), director Jon Turteltaub (2nd R) and producer Jerry Bruckheimer pose as they arrive at the world premiere of "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" in New York July 6, 2010. REUTERS/Eric Thayer</p>