Producer Scott Rudin negotiating to leave Disney


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With the recent demise of Miramax Films and its possible sale, the specialty label’s biggest movie producer, Scott Rudin, is negotiating to end his lucrative production deal with corporate parent Walt Disney Co.

A prolific producer who supplied Miramax such movies as Oscar winners “No Country For Old Men,” “The Queen,” and “There Will Be Blood,” Rudin is in talks to settle out his contract, which still has three years remaining, said a person familiar with the situation.


Under his arrangement, Rudin collects about $9 million a year to cover overhead at his New York headquarters and offices on the Disney lot. That sum includes a $3-million fund for buying projects.

Negotiations between Disney and Rudin comes as Disney is in talks to sell Miramax with various bidders, including hedge funds and Miramax founder Harvey Weinstein, with whom Rudin has had a strained relationship. Rudin has more than a dozen projects in development at Miramax and wants to be able to control where his projects land, a knowledgeable person said.

Rudin’s departure would mark the latest upheaval under the new regime of Walt Disney Studios movie chairman Rich Ross. Just last week, Disney announced it was shutting down the Northern California digital studio co-founded by filmmaker Robert Zemeckis, who most recently directed the studio’s costly holiday movie, “A Christmas Carol.”

Ross also recently ousted Miramax chief Daniel Battsek, a close ally of Rudin’s, and subsequently shut down the unit’s New York and Los Angeles offices. Under a mandate from Walt Disney Co. chief executive Bob Iger, Ross has been aggressively cutting costs at the Burbank studio.

A logical place for Rudin to set up shop next is Sony Pictures, where he has close ties with studio chief Amy Pascal and made last summer’s comedy hit ‘Julie & Julia,’ starring Meryl Streep. He also just completed production on Sony’s ‘The Social Network,’ a movie about Facebook directed by David Fincher, and is prepping Bennett Miller’s ‘Moneyball’ with Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill. At Sony, Rudin is also expected to make ‘The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,’ based on the first of three Steig Larson novels, which Fincher also may direct.

Rudin, whose producer credits also include Nancy Meyer’s comedy ‘It’s Complicated’ and Wes Anderson’s Oscar-nominated animated comedy ‘The Fantastic Mr. Fox,’ was wooed to Disney in 2005 by then-movie chairman Dick Cook after he spent 15 years producing some of Paramount Pictures’ biggest hits, including ‘School of Rock,’ ‘The Addams Family’ and ‘Clueless.’


-- Claudia Eller