Could it be three misses in a row for Jerry Bruckheimer?
The producer’s latest project, Disney’s PG-rated “Sorcerer’s Apprentice," debuts in 3,385 theaters in the U.S. and Canada Wednesday, including a handful of midnight Tuesday shows.
Pre-release tracking suggests the film won’t crack the $30 million mark in its first five days. In fact, one rival studio distribution official predicts the film – budgeted at well over $100 million – will gross no more than $25 million over that span.
The good news is that the outlook for the film has slightly improved as release has neared. A little over a week ago, the consumer-awareness and intent-to-see tracking were registering below Bruckheimer's last film, “Prince of Persia,” at a similar pre-release point in time.
“We had a lot of really high-profile films open in front of us, and we may have gotten lost in the clutter,” Disney theatrical distribution president Chuck Viane said. “Now that it’s just ‘Inception’ and us, I think we have a shot at delivering our message.” (A spokesperson for Bruckheimer referred TheWrap to Disney for comment.)
Still, if “Sorcerer’s” doesn’t find its footing both domestically and overseas – it rolls out into most foreign markets next week – it will be the third Bruckheimer-produced film that fails to triple its production budget in worldwide theatrical gross. (Factoring the huge prints and advertising cost associated with launching big-budget family films globally, that’s generally considered the benchmark for success.)
And critics aren’t helping. The film has garnered a 25 percent fresh score on reviews aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes.
Certainly, for a producer known for presiding over mega-successful film franchises like “The Pirates of the Caribbean” – which has grossed more than $2.6 billion over three films – such a dry spell would draw notice.
His last two films haven’t been flops, but they haven’t lived up to the lofty Bruckheimer standard, either.
His last effort, “Prince of Persia,” a $200 million epic starring Jake Gyllenhaal in an unlikely action role, has grossed $320 million worldwide since debuting in May, with foreign markets contributing most of the juice.
Prior to that effort, the producer spent more than $150 million on last summer’s gerbil-themed family film “G-Force,” with the film grossing $292 million worldwide.
Ambition-wise, Disney officials say “Sorcercer’s” is on par with 2007’s “National Treasure: Book of Secrets,” which cost around $130 million to make.
“The same audience will come along for the ride," Viane said.
With the two “National Treasure” movies enjoying three-day openings of $35.1 million and $44.8 million, the bar is high.
Viane, however, remains confident: "We think when the public sees this movie, they'll enjoy it," he said.