Mestres takes root at Disney

Ricardo Mestres, whose partnership with director John Hughes resulted in such kidpix as “101 Dalmatians” and the upcoming “Flubber,” has ankled Great Oaks Entertainment to ink his own three-year production pact with Walt Disney Studios, the Mouse House confirmed Tuesday.

The agreement will let Mestres produce for Disney, Touchstone and Hollywood Pictures under the banner Ricardo Mestres Prods., based on the Disney lot in Burbank. Mestres will bring with him Great Oaks creative execs Andrew Gunn and Daniel Davids.

The separation from Hughes was said to be mutual and friendly. Insiders pointed to the frequent and near systematic turnover of executive partners for Hughes, who lives in and prefers to work out of Chicago.

“We made four movies in 2-1/2 years,” Mestres said. “It was fun, stimulating and successful. Now it’s time to go our separate ways.”

Hughes could not be reached for comment. It was unclear whether he would look for another partner.

The new Disney deal gives Mestres his own banner for the second time. He left as prexy of Hollywood Pictures in 1994 to start his own production company. A year later, Hughes and Mestres joined forces with plans for films, TV, publishing and interactive projects.

Great Oaks churned out such pics as “Jack,” a Robin Williams starrer helmed by Francis Ford Coppola that was considered a B.O. disappointment; “101 Dalmatians” and “Flubber,” another Williams starrer.

Mestres was exec producer on Hughes’ “Home Alone 3,” a Christmas release that has been tracking well.

Disney meanwhile, welcomed the new addition to its production ranks with congratulatory comments from Disney and Hollywood prexy David Vogel and Touchstone president Donald DeLine.

“I have enjoyed working with David and Donald for more than a decade,” Mestres said. “I’m delighted to continue my association with them and their film organizations.”

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