The Monday after Jerry Bruckheimer’s latest blockbuster, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, failed to bust blocks in its opening weekend (just $17.6 million in three days, compared to Inception’s $62.8 million debut and Despicable Me’s week-two $32.8 million take), the megaproducer sent out this seemingly generic celebratory tweet: “Lucky to work with such a talented team on The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, have you seen it?” Accompanying it was the above Twitpic of him on the red carpet with Disney studio chief Rich Ross and director Jon Turteltaub. Just sixteen words and a picture — seemingly innocuous, right? But hey, Bruckheimer produces the CSI franchise, so surely he would approve of us giving it some deep forensic analysis, right? Because he might not like what we found.
Sure, it’s possible that Jerry’s Twitter account is operated by one of the animatronic guinea pigs left over from G-Force and this tweet was pre-written and -programmed two weeks ago. But in a town where nuance is everything, the Bruckheimer-Ross-Turteltaub grip-n-grin photo has opened speculation: Is it a wily effort to show Hollywood that Jerry’s still close with
Ross, despite delivering his fourth bomb in a row for the studio, after Prince
of Persia: The Sands of Time, G-Force, and the
anti-zeitgeist Confessions of a Shopaholic? Or is it a deft attempt by Bruckheimer to spread some of the blame around for the $150 million Sorcerer? Ross, the newly installed Disney chief, didn’t even green-light this film, but most people might not remember that.
Bruckheimer, long one of the most reliable producers in town, is for the first time inspiring major whispering about his status. As one Disney insider opines: “Any producer, regardless of who they are, can’t withstand four in a row that haven’t been profitable. And this doesn’t look like a moneymaker. This doesn’t knock him out, but it hurts him.”
Other execs in Hollywood note that Disney’s planned Bruckheimer-Turteltaub-Cage venture, National Treasure 3, is now in danger of indefinitely being put on ice, and they also point to the fact that despite Disney’s September 2008 announcement by then-Disney studio chief Dick Cook of a Bruckheimer-produced version of The Lone Ranger (starring Johnny Depp as Tonto, paleface!), Bruckheimer has still yet to get the green-light for the film from Ross.
Then, last night, another sign that the Bruckheimer-Disney relationship may be strained appeared in the trades: Disney production president Sean Bailey was at pains to point out to The Hollywood Reporter that, “We have an incredible relationship with one of Hollywood’s most prolific producers in Jerry Bruckheimer. Together, we’ve created some of the most recognizable and successful live-action titles in recent years.”
When the suits are issuing statements about what you’ve done in the past, rather than what you’re going to be doing with them in the future, that’s not as reassuring as it could be.
Or hey, maybe it is just a harmless robo-tweet! Let’s all go see Sorcerer’s Apprentice, just like Jerry or his guinea pig says!