Thursday, September 3, 2009

Forget Pixar – Bruckheimer could be a more immediate Disney partner for Marvel

Since Marvel bought Disney a lot has been made of the potential for a Pixar -Marvel match up - the company has even revealed that Pixar’s Chief Creative Officer John Lassetter has met with Marvel staff to discuss possible collaborations. But I haven’t read anyone discuss a more obvious Disney partner that may also be likely to take an interest in Marvel’s properties : uber-producer Jerry Bruckheimer.

Bruckheimer is one of the most successful and controversial producers in Hollywood. Known for massive action heavy and critically unpopular productions his long list of credits includes Beverly Hills Cop, Top Gun, The Rock, Bad Boys, Con Air, Crimson Tide, Armageddon, Enemy of the State, Gone in Sixty Seconds, Black Hawk Down, Pearl Harbor, Pirates of the Caribbean, King Arthur and the National Treasure films. For television he produces the successful CSI franchise, Without a Trace, Cold Case and The Amazing Race.

So given that the action genre is right in his wheelhouse and the fact that he has been known to help Disney develop their properties in the past with Pirates of the Caribbean, a Bruckheimer produced Marvel film, like for instance Power Man and Iron Fist, Deathlok or Daughters of the Dragon, could appeal to Disney execs. For television he could even produce procedurals based around concepts such as SHIELD, Jessica Jones or X-Factor.

Of course the fan reaction to such a move would be mixed at best, and Marvel’s Ike Pearlmutter and Kevin Feige would likely be resistant to such an intrusion into their domain. But by talking about teaming with Pixar they have already opened the door to such collaborations, and given the fact that Pixar productions have a long development process working with Bruckheimer could be a faster way to ramp up new productions.

The popular spin on this merger is that it helps Disney broaden its appeal to young boys and adolescents. Up until now Bruckheimer has been Disney’s go-to man for this type of thing – with initiatives like Pirates of the Caribbean and the recent G-Force films. Inherent in the coverage has been an acknowledgement (sometimes made pretty explicit) that this hasn’t really worked. Could Bruckheimer be pissed about this implicit criticism? This move certainly makes his role at Disney a little less crucial. Disney may wish to reinforce their attachment to the producer by giving him access to some of Marvel's properties if he wants them.

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