Devil's Advocate

Audiences love Jerry Bruckheimer. Critics don't. Like he cares.

"Audiences don't know why, but at the end of a [flawed movie], they say, 'I didn't like it.' They can't really articulate most times what they don't like about it," he says. "The times have changed for what audiences will sit through, and that's me. I make these pictures I feel work and don't really test them in front of an audience till the very end, so maybe we're shorthanding the audience a little bit by [deleting] some of these quieter scenes."

A long time ago, Bruckheimer made movies to survive. Now, he says with a small laugh, he has begun thinking about the notion of a legacy. "I guess I should," he says, chuckling. In the end, he wants to be known as nothing more than an entertainer, the world's best storyteller--even if that comes at the expense of character and coherence, one imagines, given his output. That he thrives beyond his expectations and imagination doesn't make him evil; it makes him victorious. Long ago, he said he doesn't give the audience what it wants, but what it doesn't know it needs. His bank account proves him right, at least for now. If an audience truly deserves the films it gets, then we have only ourselves to blame for Bruckheimer's success.

"And someday, the audience will say no," Bruckheimer says. "Someday I'll lose touch with an audience. Up to the present moment, what I've liked and what I've honed as far as entertainment, they've embraced. That could all change."

Sidney Balwin

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