EXCLUSIVE, updated with statement from Stuart lawyer: While Tang Media Partners today added Open Road to its company portfolio, there is major exit news involving its other major entertainment media property, IM Global. CEO Stuart Ford, face of the sales and distribution company for the last 10 years, was forced out of the company late last Friday in what is described to me as an acrimonious exit. The dispute had to do with disagreements between Ford and IM Global’s board and parent company over the company’s direction. The disagreements went all the way up to Tang Media Partners CEO Donald Tang. TMP acquired IM Global last year for about $200 million, half of that in equity.
“There are strategic differences that caused the story you wrote today,” Stuart’s attorney Marvin Gelfand told Dedaline today. “We have been in contact with each other to try and resolve the outstanding issues and move on”.
This is all surprising since IM Global has had a run that included the Oscar-winning Mel Gibson-directed Hacksaw Ridge. The company has three films in production, and started an unscripted TV business to go along with a scripted division. The company is in production on the Johnny Depp starrer Richard Says Goodbye, it has Matthew McConaughey starring in the Steven Knight-directed Serenity, and it recently pacted with Barbara Broccoli on The Rhythm Section, a film that is now in preproduction. It was also sales rep on The Circle. It is unclear how the emergence of Open Road will impact the operations of IM Global going forward, but it seems likely the timing is not coincidental.
The news of Ford’s exit is reverberating within the walls of IM Global today. The company has 60 employees, offices in LA, NY, London, Beijing, Mexico City and Munich and has built up to an output of about five films a year, along with handling international sales on around 15 films. It has a library of 600 or so titles. Will tell you more when I know it.