‘Mars’ loses Verbinski

Studio, director cannot agree

Unable to come to an agreement on the budget and the film’s creative direction, Disney and director Gore Verbinski (“Mousehunt”) have parted ways on the sci-fi thriller “Mission to Mars.”

The film, which is being produced by Tom Jacobson, had undergone two months of pre-production in preparation for a May start.

“The studio is committed to the movie,” Jacobson told Daily Variety. “The movie always had an extensive pre-production plan because it’s a complicated movie … and this doesn’t jeopardize the film.”

Jacobson said the decision was partly budget-related, but that the studio and Verbinski “just had different visions for the movie.”

Jacobson said he and Disney are already out to directors to take Verbinski’s spot, and look to have someone in place to begin production in June.

Among the candidates Disney is understood to be interested in for the helmer’s post are Sam Raimi and Frank Marshall.

Pic is a thriller about a Mars exploration team that finds something strange and disappears soon after sending an alert back to Earth; a second team is dispatched to rescue the first.

It’s understood that Verbinski stood to make around $2 million for what would have been his sophomore outing. The former commercials director has a few other development projects to which he is attached, including DreamWorks’ “How Georgie Radbourn Saved Baseball,” New Line’s “The Sky Is Falling” and a project based on William Monahan’s novel “The Lighthouse” at Warner Bros.