Saver to exit Lightstorm

Chief operating officer Matthew Saver will leave filmmaker James Cameron’s Lightstorm Entertainment effective Jan. 1.

Sources report Saver’s position was eliminated as part of a company restructuring related to 20th Century Fox’s arrangementwith the indie.

Under this deal (Daily Variety, July 19), Fox acts as both bank and completion bond company for Lightstorm, an arrangement that came about after the completion bond market fell apart and threatened to topple Lightstorm’s unique indie deal.

Saver was entertainment attorney for Cameron when the “Terminator”/”Aliens” director brought him into the new company in July 1992 to oversee day-to-day operations. He is the second executive to leave the Lightstorm fold in recent months; company president Larry Kasanoff ankled in June.

When the Fox deal was set up, Lightstorm got an unprecedented $ 500 million — from Fox and four strategic foreign partners — to make films. In exchange, the foreign partners would receive rights for the films in their own territories and Cameron, carrying the clout of a filmmaker who makes movies with international appeal, would still own the films.

Fox was supposed to put up a fixed percentage of the negative costs of each project. Lightstorm execs have said their foreign distribution pacts have not changed.

Meanwhile, with Fox having a stepped-up role in the indie company’s product, sources say that Cameron and his Lightstorm prexy, Rae Sanchini, decided to eliminate Saver’s position.

While Saver could not be reached for comment, sources believe he will return to practicing law and open his own firm. Prior to joining Lightstorm, he had been with Rosenfeld, Meyer & Susman, handling such clients as Jodie Foster, who will again be a client. Saver had been a key architect of Foster’s production deal at Polygram.

Lightstorm officials did not return calls.