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Scott Rudin seeks to end production deal at Miramax Films

The man has supplied the Disney unit with movies including Oscar-winner 'No Country for Old Men,' 'The Queen,' and 'There Will Be Blood.'

March 17, 2010|By Claudia Eller
  • Producer Scott Rudin has three years left on his contract and has more than a dozen projects in development at Miramax.
Producer Scott Rudin has three years left on his contract and has more than… (Andy Clark / Reuters )

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 the company's corporate parent, Walt Disney Studios.

A prolific producer who supplied Miramax with such movies as Oscar-winner "No Country for Old Men," "The Queen," and "There Will Be Blood," Rudin is in talks to get out of 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 includes a $3-million fund for buying movie projects.

Negotiations between Disney and Rudin come as Disney is in talks about selling Miramax with various bidders, including several 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 person familiar with the situation said.

A spokesman for Disney declined to comment.

Rudin's departure would be the latest upheaval under the new regime of Disney movie Chairman Rich Ross. 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 closed 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.

Rudin was wooed to Disney in 2005 by then-Chairman Dick Cook after he had spent 15 years producing movies for Paramount Pictures, including "School of Rock," "Clueless" and "The Addams Family." Although his deal at Disney was to include movies for Disney's Touchstone Pictures and Walt Disney Pictures units, Rudin in the end only made films for Miramax.

The most likely studio for Rudin to land at would be Sony Pictures, where he has a close relationship with studio chief Amy Pascal and made last summer's "Julie & Julia" with Meryl Streep. He also just completed production there on director David Fincher's "The Social Network," a movie about Facebook, and is prepping Bennett Miller's "Moneyball," starring 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 Stieg Larson novels, which Fincher may direct.

Rudin's producer credits also include Nancy Meyer's comedy "It's Complicated" and Wes Anderson's Oscar-nominated animated feature "The Fantastic Mr. Fox."

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