Jerry Bruckheimer Didn’t Know There Would Be a 4th ‘Bad Boys’ Movie Either

The producer tells TheWrap about Will Smith and Martin Lawrence’s sequel becoming a surprise summer blockbuster

Jerry Bruckheimer
Gerry Images

Never count the “Bad Boys” out.

“Bad Boys: Ride or Die,” the fourth film in the franchise that began with Michael Bay’s original in 1995 and is the follow-up to 2020’s “Bad Boys for Life,” has amassed $113 million domestically and $215.5 million internationally since opening at the beginning of June. In its second weekend, when Disney’s “Inside Out 2” was dominating the box office, “Bad Boys: Ride or Die” dropped a mere 40%, which is almost unheard of in this day and age.

And Jerry Bruckheimer, the movie’s producer, whose summer movie portfolio also includes Disney’s “Young Woman and the Sea” and Netflix’s “Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F,” wasn’t sure the movie, which once again stars Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, would ever happen either.

“You never know really. After we made the first one, we thought we were done and all of a sudden, it exploded and we got really lucky,” Bruckheimer told TheWrap. “We kept making them. So as long as people show up, hopefully [Smith and Lawrence] will still want to make them.”

Bay, who started the franchise with his directorial feature debut, exited the franchise after 2003’s genuinely insane “Bad Boys II,” but has popped up in the movies since. In “Bad Boys for Life,” he shows up at a wedding, complete with the most Bay-ish camera movement. And in “Bad Boys: Ride or Die,” he makes a cameo as an embittered motorist. “He started with the whole thing. He created the look and feel and everything about it. So he deserves it. I was pleased to see him on screen,” Bruckheimer said.

For the past two movies, the torch has been passed to the directing team of Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, who in between the movies directed a “Batgirl” film that Warner Bros. Discovery decided to shelve (for a while, they were also attached to the “Beverly Hills Cop” sequel, too). Bruckheimer described them as “good storytellers and visual artists.” “They’re amazing — the stuff that they can pull off with a camera and how they use the camera to tell the story. They’re very efficient at what they do. And they understand comedy and action,” Bruckheimer said. “They design set pieces that are fantastic. And they get great performances out of our actors.”

What makes them rare, according to Bruckheimer, is that Adil & Bilall (which is how they are billed) are “terrific directors who understand how to do adventure and action.” This is the secret sauce that many big Hollywood directors just don’t have. And it’s evident in the film, particularly in the climactic battle at an abandoned alligator farm/amusement park, where the camera goes from being on our heroes to their point of view and back again (the production team used a specialized rig, allowing the actors to both perform and be their own cameraperson).

“They storyboarded everything and did some previews on it. They’d been working on that for a long time with their stunt team. You always have problems no matter what — there’s always issues when you do these things, because of time and money and people available. At the end, they just go through it,” Bruckheimer explained. What helps, he added, is that they “have a real strong point of view and it shows.” That it does.

One sequence from “Bad Boys: Ride or Die” that everybody is talking about involves Reggie (Dennis McDonald), who plays Lawrence’s son-in-law. Reggie was introduced in “Bad Boys II,” during a particularly mean-spirited comedy bit where Lawrence and Smith threaten him before he takes Lawrence’s daughter out on a date. Somehow, he has survived through the franchise and finally gets his big moment in the latest film. When a band of armed goons break into Lawrence’s family home, Reggie springs into action, saving the day while Lawrence and Smith watch through cameras from another location (when we saw the movie a few weeks before it opened, the crowd was going nuts). “It was always in the script and it was something Will said the audience was going to go crazy for. I can’t remember if it was his idea; it might have been. He was so right,” Bruckheimer said. “They go crazy.”

The scene was so popular, in fact, that they added a bit to the very end of the movie, during a largely improvised scene at a family cookout. “We had like a half a day or a few hours to shoot that. And that was something that we really wanted to do to give him a little pop at the end of the movie,” Bruckheimer said.

Lawrence and Smith have already started talking about coming back for another installment; in a marketplace with few sure things, “Bad Boys” is about as close as they come. Bruckheimer also acknowledged that the franchise is all about its stars. “It’s a relationship between these two guys. And that’s why people show up,” he said. But they haven’t started thinking about an immediate sequel just yet. “If we feel there’s more stories there, we’ll do it,” Bruckheimer said. He quoted John Huston, who supposedly once said, “They keep asking me to remake my hits. I’d rather remake my failures since I know how to fix those.”

“What the audience wants is they want the same movie, but they want something different, so that’s really hard to do,” Bruckheimer noted. “You try to give them the familiarity with the characters and the relationship and try to throw it into a new plot.”

If they can find something as fun as “Bad Boys: Ride or Die” to do for the next movie, well, there should be no problem.

“Bad Boys: Ride or Die” is in theaters now.

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