via Walt Disney Pictures
During the 2000s and 2010s, Disney made it a mission to try and capitalize on two crazes at once, but it would be an understatement to say that one fared significantly better than the other. However, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice accomplished the rare feat of trying to tick both boxes at the same time, only to fare miserably on each front.
The studio’s insatiable desire to mount as many live-action blockbuster remakes based on its back catalogue of animated classics was only in its formative stages at the time, with the whimsical fantasy sandwiched in between the billion-dollar phenomenon Alice and Wonderland and Angelina Jolie’s $758 million-grossing Maleficent.
Meanwhile, the Mouse House had sought to replicate the Pirates of the Caribbean formula to mixed results with Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice wasn’t all that dissimilar from the swashbuckling saga with a magical twist. As The Lone Ranger and Jungle Cruise would show eventually, though, it’s hard to recapture lightning in a bottle.
As a $150 million epic derived from Fantasia and its sequel that saw Jerry Bruckheimer on producing duties with an A-list star in the lead role playing a long-haired eccentric cursed by fate and destiny, it was clear that National Treasure director John Turteltaub was trying to have his cake and eat it by trying to find the perfect balance between Disney’s hottest new trends.
In the end, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice tanked at the box office and was dismissed by critics and audience alike, marking it as an egregiously failed experiment forevermore. There’s definitely potential in the premise, as noted by a recent Reddit thread, but the execution was so bland, safe, and forgettable that it never really stood a chance of breaking out from the pack.