THR Impact Award to Summit

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Summit Entertainment reached another peak when co-chairmen Rob Friedman and Patrick Wachsberger received the second annual Nielsen Impact Award during a ceremony at the Sundance Film Festival.

Industry players in Park City for the fest gathered Saturday at Main Street's Cafe Terigo to honor the two men, whose fortunes soared with the November release of the $300 million-grossing blockbuster "Twilight."

"We started this last year, and it was something incredibly sincere," said Eric Mika, publisher of The Hollywood Reporter, who presented the award with last year's recipient, Sundance festival director Geoffrey Gilmore.

"The award is the Nielsen Impact Award, which celebrates the impact that an individual has on the independent film community. We believe these are two gentlemen who not only work incredibly well together but built a billion-dollar industry and launched a franchise that never will see its twilight."

Added Gilmore: "Rob Friedman and Patrick Wachsberger are pros in every sense of the word, people that have had experience at studios, independents, globally — across the spectrum — and really reflect what the independent arena really is now. And their impact? Look at what's happened this year. I'm just fortunate enough to be in the position where I can sometimes get them to do me favors."

Wachsberger, who launched Summit in 1996, and Friedman, a former Paramount executive, also credited Summit executives Erik Feig, David Garrett and Bob Hayward for "Twilight's" success. Its sequel, "New Moon," is in preproduction.

"To get an award that Geoffrey Gilmore has gotten for the support of independent film is really an achievement, in my mind," Friedman said. "Both Patrick and I are very excited about it and very appreciative of the honor."

As for Summit's plans, Friedman cracked, "We'd like to continue getting the Impact Award every year." (partialdiff)
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