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'Top Gun' Producers, Disney Sign Deal

January 18, 1991|ALAN CITRON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

In a widely anticipated move, Hollywood producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer announced Thursday that they have reached a long-term production agreement with Walt Disney Co.

Simpson and Bruckheimer, the team behind such high-concept movies as "Days of Thunder," "Top Gun" and "Beverly Hills Cop," are expected to make at least five films for Disney's Hollywood Pictures division. The producers also have the option, under the agreement, of taking projects rejected by Disney to other studios.

The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. But Simpson and Bruckheimer's compensation reportedly will be largely based on the performance of their movies. "It's a real partnership," said Disney studio chief Jeffrey Katzenberg, who formerly worked with the producers at Paramount Pictures Corp. "We will win together or we will lose together."

The move to Disney had been rumored since Simpson and Bruckheimer severed their ties to Paramount by mutual agreement last November. The Paramount partnership was termed a "visionary alliance" when it began nine months earlier. But the making of "Days of Thunder," a Tom Cruise picture released last summer, soured each side on the other.

Paramount, which has recently gone into a budget-cutting mode, reportedly held the high-priced Simpson and Bruckheimer responsible for cost overruns and the film's disappointing performance. (Originally budgeted at $49.5 million, it cost about $63 million, not including prints and advertising.) Simpson and Bruckheimer reportedly blamed Paramount for rushing the film's development and release.

Disney also has a reputation for tight cost controls. But Simpson expressed confidence that he and Bruckheimer can operate within those boundaries. "The idea is to merely make pictures for what they should cost," he said. "We don't find the concept restrictive."

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