Todd Garner has ankled the Walt Disney Co., where he has served as co-president of the Buena Vista Motion Picture Group for the last 11 months.
Garner, who shared the title with Nina Jacobson, said he learned through his lawyer late Thursday that his exit had been approved.
“I have no specific plans,” Garner told Daily Variety, reached in Hawaii near the set of Disney’s Michael Bay/Jerry Bruckheimer epic “Pearl Harbor.” “I am just anxious to see what’s out there. It is the first time I have been looking for a job in 10 years.”
Sources said Garner had been seeking to break free of his five-year contract — which had four years remaining — since Joe Roth left the Mouse House to form his own shingle in January.
No replacement for Garner has been named nor does it seem likely that one will be. Sources close to the studio say that Jacobson will reign alone as president.
“I haven’t spoken to anyone about any jobs,” Garner said, fending off the rumor that he would join his ex-boss, Joe Roth. He also denied that he had any issues with any specific execs at the studio and spoke positively of his experiences at the Mouse House.
Still, sources claim that Garner was not happy since Roth left and Peter Schneider, chairman of the Walt Disney Studio, took over.
“I have been thinking about it for a long time,” Garner said. “It seems that now is the right time to go, given all the changes. Nina and I had a great run. We put together a lot of movies during the short time we have been doing the job together, but now I am interested in doing something less corporate.”
Garner had been working at the Mouse House since 1991, rising through the production ranks under a host of different management teams but especially under Roth.
“The irony is, I am happy to be trying new things,” said Garner. “While I am leaving Disney, I am sitting in Hawaii watching a movie I have been wanting to make for a long time get made.”
At Disney, Garner oversaw and helped develop both “Father of the Bride” movies, “Nothing to Lose,” “Con Air,” “The Waterboy,” “Deuce Bigalow” and “High Fidelity” as well as forthcoming pics “Gone in Sixty Seconds,” “Coyote Ugly” and “The Kid.”
Bruckheimer, also in Hawaii, said, “Todd is a terrific executive and I know he’ll go on to having a bright career.”