Jerome Leon Bruckheimer
September 21, 1943
|Alma mater||University of Arizona (BA)|
|Title||Co-founder/co-majority owner of the Seattle Kraken|
(m. 1969; div. 1974)
His films include Flashdance, Top Gun, The Rock, Crimson Tide, Con Air, Armageddon, Enemy of the State, Black Hawk Down, Pearl Harbor, Kangaroo Jack, and the Beverly Hills Cop, Bad Boys, Pirates of the Caribbean, and the National Treasure franchises. Many of his films have been co-produced by Paramount and Disney, while many of his television series have been co-produced by Warner Bros. and CBS Studios. In July 2003, Bruckheimer was honored by Variety as the first producer in Hollywood history to produce the top two highest-grossing films of a single weekend, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl and Bad Boys II.
His best known television series are CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CSI: Miami, CSI: NY, CSI: Cyber, Without a Trace, Cold Case, and the American version of The Amazing Race. At one point, three of his TV series ranked among the top 10 in the U.S. ratings—a unique feat in television.
Bruckheimer was born in Detroit, the son of German-Jewish immigrants. He graduated from Mumford High School in 1961 in Detroit, at age 17, before moving to Arizona for college. Bruckheimer was also an active member of the Stamp Collecting Club. He graduated with a degree in psychology from the University of Arizona. He was a member of the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity. A film buff at an early age with an interest in photography, Bruckheimer would take snapshots when he had the opportunity. After college, Bruckheimer worked in advertising in Detroit (creative producer) and New York City. At the Detroit agency he worked on a one minute ad spot for the new Pontiac GTO.
Early in his career, Bruckheimer produced television commercials, including one for Pepsi.
1970s & 1980s: From advertising to film production
Bruckheimer started producing films in the 1970s, after leaving his job in advertising, with director Dick Richards. They worked together on the films The Culpepper Cattle Company; Farewell, My Lovely; and March or Die. Bruckheimer then worked with Paul Schrader on two films, American Gigolo and Cat People, which began to give him notice in Hollywood.
During the 1980s and 1990s, he was a co-producer with Don Simpson of a string of highly successful Hollywood films for Paramount Pictures. He first met Simpson at a screening of 1973's The Harder They Come at Warner Brothers. The two worked together and created Bruckheimer's first big hit, 1983's Flashdance, which brought in US$95 million. He had a number of other hits during that time period, including the Beverly Hills Cop films, Top Gun, and Days of Thunder. Top Gun marked his first collaboration with English director Tony Scott, who directed six films for Bruckheimer. The first Beverly Hills Cop movie, which was supposed to star Sylvester Stallone, launched Eddie Murphy's career and in just five days, became Paramount's highest grossing winter release in the company's history. On August 9, 1983, Bruckheimer and Simpson struck a three-year agreement with Paramount Pictures to produce theatrical and television projects, after years of working as a line producer, through his new Simpson/Bruckheimer Productions company.
While working with Simpson, Bruckheimer became known as "Mr. Outside" because of his experience with filmmaking, while Simpson became known as "Mr. Inside" because of his film industry contacts. The Rock was the last film in which Bruckheimer collaborated with Simpson. After Simpson's death in 1996, Bruckheimer stipulated that The Rock be dedicated to the memory of Simpson.
1990s: Big-budget films
In 1990, Bruckheimer and Simpson struck a $500 million deal with Paramount to produce five movies, entirely of their choice. However, his 1990 production of the film, Days of Thunder, which started Tom Cruise, did not perform well, which was a step backwards in the Bruckheimer-Simpson success story. The duo made a come-back in 1994, however, with the low-budget film ($12 million), The Ref.
Despite Simpson's untimely death, Bruckheimer has continued to produce a large number of action films, often working with director Michael Bay on several box office hits, including Armageddon. Other popular films he produced include Remember the Titans, Black Hawk Down, and the Pirates of the Caribbean series. Bruckheimer has also acquired the rights to produce a film based on the popular role playing game by Palladium Books, Rifts. In the late 1990s, he started Technical Black Films to produce non-action films, with Remember the Titans being the only film produced.
2000s: Franchises, TV, video games
Since 1996, Bruckheimer has branched out into television, creating a number of police dramas of which CSI: Crime Scene Investigation has been the most successful. He has also produced the reality game show, The Amazing Race. In May 2008, CBS announced it had picked up Bruckheimer's newest series, Eleventh Hour, for the 2008–2009 broadcast television season. The science fiction drama follows a government agent and a professor as they investigate strange scientific and medical activity.
From 2004 (beginning of CSI: NY) to 2009 (end of Without a Trace), Bruckheimer had six hit television shows on the air: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CSI: Miami, CSI: NY, Cold Case, Without a Trace and The Amazing Race. At one point, three of his TV series ranked among the top 10 in the ratings.
In December 2007, Bruckheimer announced plans to partner with MTV to create a new game studio. The same year, Bruckheimer joined the ZeniMax Media Board of Directors and has since showed up at several launch parties for Bethesda Softworks titles, including Fallout 3, Fallout: New Vegas, and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. In 2009, Bruckheimer unveiled Jerry Bruckheimer Games headed by former Microsoft Studios Publishing Executive Producer, Jim Veevaert, as President of Production and Jay Cohen, previously Ubisoft's Vice President of U.S. Publishing, as President of Development.
It was announced on September 10, 2009, that NBC had picked up an action procedural from Jerry Bruckheimer. The show, titled Chase, "tells the stories of a team charged with making sure fugitive criminals don't evade justice," reports The Hollywood Reporter. It was canceled in May 2011, however. Skin, which was another Bruckheiner production, was cancelled in 2003, after only three episodes.
In 2011, it was rumored that Jerry Bruckheimer Games was working on three titles, but nothing came to fruition. In March 2013, Jerry Bruckheimer Games was closed. Although Jerry Bruckheimer Games is closed, Bruckheimer still remained a ZeniMax Board Member, mostly due to being a close associate of former ZeniMax President, Ernest Del, until ZeniMax was purchased by Microsoft in 2021.
2010s: Independent producer, sports
In 2014, after the disappointment of The Sorcerer's Apprentice and The Lone Ranger, Jerry Bruckheimer and the Disney Studios chose to part ways by not renewing their first-look deal that expired that year. He signed a new first-look deal with Paramount that same year and mentioned a new Beverly Hills Cop and a Top Gun 2 as potential production ventures with his new partner.
In June 2016, Jerry Bruckheimer Television became an Independent outfit, ending a 15-year run exclusive pact with Warner Bros Television. The next year, the production company signed a deal with CBS Television Studios.
Bruckheimer was named as one of the investors of a proposed sports arena in Las Vegas, and he had been rumored to be the leading choice by the National Hockey League (NHL) to own an expansion hockey team that would play in the arena. Bruckheimer was also named as one of the investors of a proposed Seattle-based NHL expansion team, whose application was submitted in early 2018. The NHL Board of Governors voted to approve the team, named the Seattle Kraken, on December 4, 2018, which started to play in the 2021–22 season. Jerry Bruckheimer was part of an investment group that also included Tim Leiweke (Oak View Group) and David Bonderman (minority owner NBA's Boston Celtics). More recently, his first look deal with Paramount was not renewed.
Impact on the film industry
The movie Top Gun was produced in collaboration with the Pentagon to rebrand the US Navy's image post Vietnam War and attract new Navy recruits. Top Gun was the first full-blown collaboration between Hollywood and the US Navy. The model, which was developed by Jerry Bruckheimer, launched a new trend of military movies in the nineties and onward.
In July 2003, Bruckheimer was honored by Variety as the first producer in Hollywood history to produce the top two highest-grossing films of a single weekend, the buddy-cop Bad Boys II and the Disney theme-park spin-off, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. According to Variety, the "Bruckheimer touch" is characterized by a "consistently edgy, high-octane visual dynamic and equally distinctive storytelling driven by the triumphalism so popular with Madison Avenue".
The Pirates of the Caribbean film series, produced through Walt Disney Pictures, was enormously profitable and demonstrated Bruckheimer's ability to create lucrative projects. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, which was the first film in the franchise, was released on July 9, 2003. A popular box office hit, the film was well received by both critics and filmgoers. After the unexpected success of the first film, Walt Disney Pictures revealed that a trilogy was in the works. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest was released on July 7, 2006. The sequel proved to be very successful, breaking records worldwide on the day of its premiere. In the end, the film acquired a total of $1,066,179,725 at the worldwide box office, becoming the third and fastest film to reach this amount. The third film in the series, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, was released worldwide on May 25, 2007. Two more films, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, were released, in 2011 and 2017, respectively. Altogether, the film franchise has grossed over $4.5 billion worldwide.
When asked about his favorite films, Bruckheimer named The Godfather (1972), The French Connection (1971), Good Will Hunting (1997), and The 400 Blows (1959). When asked on what the film industry's obligation to an audience was, he responded, "We are in the transportation business. We transport audiences from one place to another." When asked why he makes films, he stated, "If I made films for the critics, or for someone else, I'd probably be living in some small Hollywood studio apartment."
In a 1984 interview with the Los Angeles Times, he said "We [he and Don Simpson] put together all the elements. We decide what aesthetic is right for a picture. We are as much a part of the process as the director."
Bruckheimer's philanthropic activities have included publicly supporting the fight against multiple sclerosis via his work with The Nancy Davis Foundation for MS. Additionally, throughout his career, he has pledged to help various causes by establishing the Jerry Bruckheimer Foundation. According to The Smoking Gun, however, the last time the Jerry Bruckheimer Foundation made a contribution was in 1995, when it gave $9,350 to Van Nuys Prep School.
Bruckheimer has aided in the repair and restoration of the historic clipper ship, Cutty Sark. A collection of photos taken by Bruckheimer went on display in London in November 2007 to help raise money for the Cutty Sark Conservation Project. The exhibition featured more than thirty pictures taken on set during the filming of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End.
Bruckheimer has donated more than $50,000 to Republican campaigns and committees. He donated funds to John McCain's 2008 presidential election campaign. He gave $5,000 to a joint fundraising committee on John McCain's behalf. He donated $25,000 to the 2012 Mitt Romney Victory Fund.
All films were produced by him, unless otherwise noted.
As producer, except where noted:
|1980||American Gigolo||Paul Schrader|
|1984||Beverly Hills Cop||Martin Brest|
|Thief of Hearts||Douglas Day Stewart|
|1986||Top Gun||Tony Scott|
|1987||Beverly Hills Cop II|
|1990||Days of Thunder|
|2019||Gemini Man||Ang Lee|
|2022||Top Gun: Maverick||Joseph Kosinski|
|Secret Headquarters||Henry Joost
|1995||Bad Boys||Michael Bay|
|2001||Black Hawk Down||Ridley Scott|
|2003||Bad Boys II||Michael Bay|
|2014||Deliver Us from Evil||Scott Derrickson|
|2020||Bad Boys for Life||Adil El Arbi
|1975||Rafferty and the Gold Dust Twins||Dick Richards||Associate producer|
|2003||Kangaroo Jack||David McNally|
|2018||12 Strong||Nicolai Fuglsig||With Lionsgate Films|
|1972||The Culpepper Cattle Co.||Dick Richards||20th Century Fox||Associate producer|
|1975||Farewell, My Lovely||Avco Embassy Pictures|
|1977||March or Die||Columbia Pictures|
|1980||Defiance||John Flynn||American International Pictures|
|1981||Thief||Michael Mann||United Artists|
|1982||Cat People||Paul Schrader||Universal Pictures||Executive producer|
|Young Doctors in Love||Garry Marshall||20th Century Fox|
|2011||Take the Money and Run|
|1998||Max Q||TV films|
|2001–present||The Amazing Race|
|2011||Take the Money and Run|
|1998–99||Soldier of Fortune, Inc.|
|2000–15||CSI: Crime Scene Investigation|
|2002–09||Without a Trace|
|2002–03||The Legacy||For UPN|
|2003||Profiles from the Front Line|
|2005–07||Close to Home|
|2010–11||The Whole Truth|
|2020||Council of Dads|
|2021||Cocaine Cowboys||Inspired by the 2006 Cocaine Cowboys documentary|
|TBA||National Treasure: Edge of History|
Honors and awards
- 1998: ShoWest Producer of the Year Award
- 2000: Producers Guild of America
- 2000: David O. Selznick Award for Lifetime Achievement
- 2003: " No. 1 most-powerful person in Hollywood" by Entertainment Weekly
- 2006: #10 on Premiere's "Power 50" list
- 2013: Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, placed right by El Capitan Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard.
His productions collected the following:
- Academy Award: 41 nominations, 6 wins
- Grammy Award: 8 nominations, 5 wins
- Golden Globe: 23 nominations, 4 wins
- Emmy Award: 77 nominations, 17 wins
- People's Choice Awards: 8 nominations, 4 wins
Bruckheimer has been married twice. His first wife was Bonnie Fishman Bruckheimer. He currently lives in Los Angeles with his second wife, novelist Linda Cobb Bruckheimer. He also has one stepdaughter, Alexandra. The couple owns a farm in Bloomfield, Kentucky, about 20 miles (32 km) southeast of Louisville, as well as another in Ojai, east of Santa Barbara. As a teenager, Linda moved from Kentucky to Los Angeles, where she has been a writer, producer, and West Coast editor for Mirabella. She married Bruckheimer in Los Angeles. She regularly spends time as a preservation activist, restoring and preserving historic buildings in small rural U.S. towns.
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Jerry Bruckheimer's 70th birthday is tomorrow (Saturday, September 21).
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