Tonight begins The Heat Is On, the monthlong film festival mounted by the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television that celebrates the prolific career of of Jerry Bruckheimer. Kicking the festival off is a screening of the Tony Scott-directed Tom Cruise classic Top Gun that Bruckheimer produced with the late Don Simpson. Deadline’s Matt Grobar sat down with Bruckheimer to talk about his work and upcoming projects, including the legacy of Top Gun, the Screening Room controversy, and the upcoming Afghan war drama Horse Soldiers.
Of course we asked about the long awaited Bad Boys 3. The Joe Carnahan-directed film will see the reunion of Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, hitting theaters in the summer of 2017. Alas, Bruckheimer had no further news about the film (that’s still being written) or any additional castings. “We have to get the script in. Once we get that, we’ll make a lot of decisions,” Bruckheimer said. He was similarly demur about the fate of CSI Cyber and the franchise that spawned it. “We want to continue it, we have a lot of interesting ideas of where we’re going to take the show,” he said about the future of the franchise. “I think we’re meeting with CBS next week to tell them what we want to do.”
And as for the sequel to tonight’s film, so far that’s still in very early development – Bruckheimer confirmed that screenwriter Justin Marks has only recently started on the script. He did however talk at length about the original film’s impact. “It’s a special film because of the fact that it highlights the military,” he says. “It shows the best and the brightest of our country, the kids who go to war to protect our shores, to protect our freedoms and unfortunately sometimes have to give up their lives for our country. That is something where we inspired a lot of kids to join the military, through that movie. That’s kind of a good thing — we want the best and brightest out there.”
“Hopefully,” he continued, “it’ll be one of those movies that gets in the time capsule, as part of what was going on in the ‘80s when the movie was released.”
Bruckheimer continued in his praise for the military in discussing Horse Soldiers, the movie he’s making with Danish filmmaker Nicolai Fuglsig about US forces in Afghanistan during the months after 9/11. “It’s a very heroic story, it’s a story that people should see about a lot of brave men that went over there, left their families, and had no idea what they were getting into. They all had $100,000 bounties on their heads by the Taliban. I love telling those kinds of stories.”
Bruckheimer was diplomatic about the controversy over The Screening Room, declining to comment about it directly, saying “people certainly have their pros and cons to everything, but I don’t know enough about it to make an informed comment.” Calling it and the larger discussion over shrinking theatrical windows “a fight between the studios and the exhibitors,” he added that “we certainly want to keep the theaters very strong and we now have more luxury theaters with reserved seats, you can get food. We still want people to go to the theaters, although I certainly have a presence in television. We do both.”
As he sees it, the biggest change in the industry isn’t release windows or viewing options, but the positive effects of the sheer volume of content and means of distribution. “There’s so many avenues for distribution of our movies and our things that we make, whether they’re television or on cable or streaming. It’s a wide open window for people who like to create great stories.”