Summit Chiefs Rob Friedman and Patrick Wachsberger Talk Lionsgate Future

Rob Friedman and Patrick Wachsberger
Rob Friedman and Patrick Wachsberger

Summit Entertainment co-chairmen Rob Friedman and Patrick Wachsberger plan to be at their desks Tuesday morning doing business as usual, both said on Friday after it was announced that Summit will be acquired by Lionsgate.

“What we’ve made clear is we have two businesses running parallel,” Friedman told The Hollywood Reporter in an interview on Friday. “They are merging but they are going to continue operating [separately].”

Lionsgate announced Friday it had closed its leveraged buyout of Summit, home to the Twilight franchise, in a deal for $412.5 million in cash and stock and the assumption of Summit’s $500 million debt.

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Friedman and Wachsberger have not signed new employment contracts with Lionsgate, but the duo said there was no need for new contracts because they already are under contract to Summit, which is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Lionsgate. Both men declined to say how long their current contracts run, but they admitted sometime later this year they will have discussions with Lionsgate top executives about their future. They also declined to reveal how many millions they will receive for their share of the equity in Summit.

They do expect to be part of discussions about how the two companies will be consolidated, which inevitably will mean some layoffs.

“We’ve been in discussions with the guys [at Lionsgate] about the acquisition, but also as it relates to transition operations and how best to operate the companies,” said Friedman. “We’re very active in our discussions with them and we're very comfortable with what we're doing.”

Wachsberger, who runs the company's international sales operation, said he will be at the Berlin film festival and market in February for Summit, selling its movies around the world; Lionsgate will be there operating on its own, with its own slate of movies.

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Friedman noted that Summit will continue to focus on its upcoming release slate and developing new projects. Summit has a movie about to go into production (Now You See Me), a movie opening in theaters in two weeks (Man on a Ledge) and the release Feb. 11 of Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 1 on home video.

Friedman and Wachsberger were adamant that reports of heated battles between the Summit executives and Lionsgate executives during the negotiations were untrue. “This is totally incorrect,” declared Wachsberger. “It is not true,” echoed Friedman.

The co-chairmen said they are very proud of what has been accomplished at Summit since it was reorganized and expanded into a full movie studio operation in 2007. Besides the three Twilight movies, which have grossed $2.5 billion worldwide (a fourth and final installment is coming in November), the company released the Oscar-winning The Hurt Locker, Red  and Letters from Juliet.

“I believe we created history in the film business,” said Friedman.


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