Rick Nicita Exiting Morgan Creek (Exclusive)

45 REP Rick Nicita H
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Nicita's contract at Morghan Creek Prods. expires at the end of December, and the company tells THR that "Rick and Jim have not discussed Rick's contract." Typically, such a deal is inked well in advance of expiration.

UPDATED: The departure comes after THR reported that his contract was up in December.

Morgan Creek co-chairman and COO Rick Nicita is exiting the company, sources tell The Hollywood Reporter.

The departure comes weeks after THR reported that Nicita's contract was up in December and he and Morgan Creek's chairman Jim Robinson had not dicussed an extension.

Nicita joined Morgan Creek in August 2008 after a long career at CAA. During his tenure, the company released only two films -- The Thing and the disappointing supernatural thriller Dream House, which opened Sept. 30 -- and has had other projects delayed while the company deals with the ongoing bankruptcy of its international distribution arm.

A source with knowledge of the situation told THR in December that Nicita is considering his options, including production opportunities and a return to the representation business. During his time at CAA, Nicita ran the careers of Tom Cruise, Al Pacino and Nicole Kidman, among others.

Morgan Creek issued a press release on Thursday with the following statement from Nicitia:

"I joined Morgan Creek for the opportunity to work at an established independent production company run by James G. Robinson, a friend and colleague whose achievements in and out of the movie business I greatly respect. My goals at Morgan Creek were achieved by using the relationships and skills that I developed as an agent to broaden and deepen Morgan Creek's access to major talent and top material. I also take pride in our successfully negotiating the renewal of Morgan Creek's distribution deal with Universal. At Morgan Creek I experienced and appreciated the multitude of responsibilities involved with running an independent production company. I am most confident that Morgan Creek will continue to expand its history of making commercial mainstream films."

Morgan Creek was once one of the top independent production companies in Hollywood with such hits as Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. The company still has a distribution deal with Universal, though the pact is set to expire at the end of 2012. And the company, co-founded in 1988 by Robinson and Joe Roth, had been slated to produce Major League 3, but Robinson said in February that he wouldn't risk working with star Charlie Sheen in the aftermath of Sheen's erratic behavior.

A planned Tupac Shakur biopic remains without a director after talks with John Singleton ended. And in November, Morgan Creek pulled out of co-financing Warren Beatty’s Howard Hughes biopic.

Meanwhile, on Dec 30 the company’s international distribution arm, Bermuda-based Inverness Distribution Ltd., filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection (it had previously filed for Chapter 15 protection, citing debts of up to $100 million). Inverness holds the rights to such movies as The Last of the Mohicans and Young Guns.

In a statement on Thursday, Robinson thanked Nicita for his time with the company:

"Rick's experience and relationships in the movie business have made a major contribution to Morgan Creek during his time with us.  I have enjoyed working with him as a partner and I wish him well in his future pursuits.  I fully expect and look forward to our professional and personal paths crossing in the near future."   

Email: Matthew.Belloni@THR.com; Daniel.Miller@THR.com

Twitter: @THRMattBelloni@DanielNMiller