Disney Studios tries to woo 'Twilight' guru Erik Feig away from Summit Entertainment
Walt Disney Studios Chairman Rich Ross approached Erik Feig, head of production at Summit Entertainment and the executive behind the "Twilight" franchise, about succeeding Oren Aviv as production chief at the Burbank studio, according to people familiar with the talks. Ross ousted Aviv, an 18-year veteran of Disney, late yesterday and is scrambling to find his replacement.
But, it appears that Feig, who has worked at Summit for nine years and is still under contract, is staying put.
"He's not going to Disney and he never asked to be released from his contract," said his boss, Rob Friedman, chief executive of Summit. Feig did not respond to a call or e-mail seeking comment.
A Disney spokeswoman did not immediately return calls.
It is understandable that Ross would court Feig. He fits the mold of the newly reshaped Disney studio, where Ross is trying to rein in costs and launch new franchises that don't necessarily depend on big stars.
Feig, who began his career by producing Sony Pictures' teen horror film "I Know What You Did Last Summer" and then went on to produce that studio's teen comedy "Slackers," was the executive who brought Stephanie Meyer's vampire books to Summit after Paramount Pictures put the project in turnaround. "Twilight," which cost $37 million to produce, and its $50-million budgeted sequel, "The Twilight Saga: New Moon," have collectively grossed $965 million at the worldwide box office. The next installment, "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse," is due out in June. Feig is also overseeing Summit's dance sequel "Step Up 3D," which Disney is distributing in the U.S.
Feig, who is president of worldwide production and acquisitions at Summit and has been a partner in the studio since 2007, was also involved in his company's purchasing the distribution rights to Kathryn Bigelow's Iraq war drama "The Hurt Locker," which has garnered a number of award nominations and is expected to be a best picture contender at the upcoming Oscars.
-- Claudia Eller and Dawn Chmielewski
Photo: Actress Dakota Fanning joins Summit Entertainment executives Rob Friedman, from left, Patrick Wachsberger and Erik Feig at the premier of "The Twilight Saga: New Moon." Credit: Kevin Winter / Getty Images