Real-Life Exec Suite Hunger Game
When Lionsgate bought Summit in January, the top-level executive shakeout took place quickly. Summit chiefs Patrick Wachsberger and Rob Friedman were slotted into the Lionsgate hierarchy, and Lionsgate president Joe Drake was headed toward an exit. The rest of their combined staff of about 650 (75 percent Lionsgate) have yet to be merged, but layoffs have begun, with three Summit execs among the first to go. How these ranks shake out depends on whether Lionsgate wants to grow and compete with Warner Bros. and Sony or merely strengthen its position as a mini-major with a handful of franchises. On Feb. 9, Summit's Erik Feig took over physical production as motion picture group president from Drake, who will exit after Hunger Games opens in late March. Production presidents Mike Paseornek and Alli Shearmur, who report to Drake, are expected to split, with Shearmur possibly getting a producing deal and Paseornek expected to maintain the studio's relationship with Tyler Perry and/or run one of two distinct labels. In distribution, the Summit team is bringing over Richard Fay, who is likely to remain president, while Lionsgate's David Spitz will have to decide whether to stay on under him or depart along with former Disney exec Chris LeRoy, who was brought on in October to help with Hunger Games. One the marketing front, Summit's Nancy Kirkpatrick has Friedman's loyalty, but Lionsgate's Tim Palen has been the artistic key to its genre successes. Despite skepticism that he would accept a power-sharing role, Palen could retain some autonomy and an equivalent title by tackling creative on the expanded 15-picture slate, while Kirkpatrick runs the rest. Whether Hunger Games consultant Terry Press stays on for the rest of the series remains an open question.