Bruckheimer Could Use Some of the ‘Sorcerer’s’ Magic

Debuting Wednesday, “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” could become the big-game producer’s third consecutive miss at the worldwide box office

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.

For his latest effort, Bruckheimer is reuniting the same creative forces of director Jon Turteltaub and star Nicolas Cage from his two “National Treasure” movies.

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.