Disney and 'Pirates' producer Bruckheimer to end film deal

By Lisa Richwine

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The Walt Disney Co and Jerry Bruckheimer, the producer behind the blockbuster "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise and the summer flop "The Lone Ranger," will end their long-running film deal next year, the media company announced on Thursday.

The company and Bruckheimer decided not to renew their current deal which gives Disney first-look rights to the producer's films, according to a statement from Disney. They will continue working together on various projects, including a fifth installment in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise.

Last week, Disney announced it would delay the release of the fifth "Pirates" movie, which had been scheduled to open in theaters in July 2015. No new date was set.

Disney's film studio will continue to focus on brands including Disney, Pixar animation, the Marvel superhero franchise, and "Star Wars" producer Lucasfilm, the company said on Thursday.

Bruckheimer "is looking to produce more mature films outside the scope of the Disney brand," the statement said.

The partnership dating back to the 1990s produced 27 movies, including several big hits for Disney. The four "Pirates" films starring Johnny Depp have generated more than $3.7 billion in worldwide ticket sales, according to the website Box Office Mojo. Bruckheimer also produced for Disney the "National Treasure" series and dramas including "Con Air" and "Pearl Harbor".

Bruckheimer's most recent Disney release, "The Lone Ranger," flopped at the box office after its July release. Disney has projected it will lose up to $190 million on the film.

Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn said Disney and Bruckheimer "have had an incredibly successful collaboration over the past two decades".

"We will continue to work together in the future, and we look forward to seeing more of the films that have made Jerry Bruckheimer a Hollywood legend," Horn said.

Bruckheimer, in the statement issued by Disney, said he would work with the studio on the "Pirates" and "National Treasure" films plus "other projects we have developed together".

"I am very appreciative of the wonderful collaboration and support I have had at The Walt Disney Company for over 20 years," he said. (Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)