After the abrupt exits of Disney film topper Joe Roth and chief financial officer Rob Moore, industry buzz is that Touchstone co-topper Todd Garner could be next.
With Nina Jacobson, Garner was named to the post of co-president of Touchstone eight months ago. Films in which he has been involved include “The Waterboy,” “Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo” and “Coyote Ugly.” Upcoming projects include the George Gallo-directed “Double Take” and “Pearl Harbor,” the $130 million film that has been the talk of the town after its filmmakers believed it had been greenlit, only to discover that it hadn’t.
Garner and Jacobson get along fine, but word is there’s a stylistic clash with newly installed topper Peter Schneider, and that Garner may exit to join the production entity that Joe Roth is forming. Garner is said to have drafted a letter outlining a possible working relationship scenario that could keep him at the studio, but there is no indication whether it will be embraced by higher-ups.
A move to Roth’s new venture may prove difficult, since Garner has an undisclosed amount of time left on the new contract that he and Jacobson signed last October. Garner would not comment, while the studio reiterated that he’s under contract.
The tensions on the lot continue as a final decision nears on whether to greenlight “Pearl Harbor.” Rumors continue that Spyglass may take a significant financial position and possibly finance the entire film.
Another element of intrigue that may make Disney’s decision easier concerns how much Disney-based producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Michael Bay have given back to make the film. The big concern on any logistically complicated film greenlit at $130 million-$140 million isn’t the initial budget, but rather the final negative cost.
Sources said the duo has offered to take financial responsibility for any budget overages. They have taken no upfront fees and only get gross participation once the studio breaks even. That may leave enough money to pay the possible starring cast of Wes Bentley, Jim Caviezel and Charlize Theron, plus some veteran names who’d play smaller roles.