Lionsgate And Summit Combining Film Marketing Teams; Summit’s Nancy Kirkpatrick Out

palen kirkpatrickLionsgate is the latest studio to shake up its marketing operations, saying today it is combining operations under Chief Marketing Officer Tim Palen that will give him oversight of film marketing for Lionsgate and Summit Entertainment product as well as its Pantelion Films joint venture with Televisa and urban Codeblack Films label. With the consolidation, Summit’s president of worldwide marketing Nancy Kirkpatrick is resigning at month’s end (although she doesn’t appear to be in her office now). As the company streamlines its operations — it currently releases about 12 to 15 movies a year now — the question is if others might follow Kirkpatrick out the door.

Kirkpatrick, who is well-regarded, ends her tenure after shepherding the marketing efforts for all five Twilight Saga films as well as the recent launch of the first pic in the Divergent franchise, which bowed last month with a $56.4 million opening weekend and has grossed $175M-plus to date worldwide. Draft Day was the last picture to open and it didn’t do well, grossing only $9.7M this past weekend, but the last three Kevin Costner film openings have been soft.

Lionsgate_newlogo__130418225246-200x107“Nancy has done a great job and has been an important part of this company,” said Lionsgate Motion Picture Group co-chair Rob Friedman, “And Tim has done an amazing job and has great relationships with both staffs.” One source noted that the word ‘integration’ has been talked about for awhile in the hallways of Lionsgate and Summit.

In fact, one of the biggest question marks since Lionsgate merged with Summit in 2012 was what would happen to their two veteran marketing heads. Eventually, Lionsgate’s Palen was given a new long-term deal to remain Chief Marketing Officer and it was decided Summit’s Kirkpatrick would continue in her role separately since the two entities had their own big slates to shepherd. As part of that structure, Palen was tasked with overseeing all of Lionsgate Films’ North American theatrical marketing campaigns and strategy, media, creative advertising and digital media initiatives as well as continuing to supervise the company’s corporate branding activities — he oversaw the marketing campaign for Lionsgate’s signature franchise The Hunger Games while Kilpatrick guided Twilight pics. As part of today’s moves, Palen now has expanded responsibilities for merchandising, theme park attractions and new business opportunities generated by the company’s franchises. He joined Lionsgate in 2002 as VP Theatrical Marketing. Read More »

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Lionsgate To Split Final ‘Divergent’ Sequel ‘Allegiant’ Into Two Films To Cap Sci-Fi Franchise

Divergent Allegiant two filmsEXCLUSIVE: Lionsgate/Summit will adapt Veronica Roth‘s Divergent novel trilogy into a total of not three, but four films starring Shailene Woodley as the dystopian sci-fi heroine Beatrice “Tris” Prior, Lionsgate Motion Picture Group Co-Chairmen Rob Friedman and Patrick Wachsberger revealed today. Following last month’s blockbuster hit Divergent and its planned 2015 sequel Insurgent, Allegiant – adapted from the third book in Roth’s bestselling YA book series – will be split into two separate films to conclude the franchise. Lionsgate had previously set Allegiant for a March 18, 2016 release. Allegiant Part 1 will keep that date, with Part 2 to follow on March 24, 2017. Both films will be produced separately.

Divergent has quickly made a box office star of Woodley, who will reprise her role in all three sequels as Tris, the 16-year-old girl who finds herself a target as one of few in her futuristic society who defy categorization into one of five personality-based factions. The first picture scored a $54.6M opening in March and has now racked up $117M domestic and $139M worldwide in three weeks of release. It’s still rolling out strong internationally and opens this weekend in France, Germany, Russia, Australia, Scandinavia, and other territories. Meanwhile sales of Roth’s novels have also enjoyed a bump from the film’s release, with boxed set and multi-book e-bundles jumping up 55 percent in sales last week and nearly 20 million copies sold worldwide.

Related: BOX OFFICE: ‘Divergent’ Opens At $54.6M

Splitting Roth’s final novel into two films isn’t a left field move for Lionsgate. Similar thinking first paid off for the company in a big way with Twilight Saga-ender Breaking Dawn. Read More »

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‘Dallas Buyers Club’s Melisa Wallack To Polish Vin Diesel’s ‘Last Witch Hunter’

By | Monday March 31, 2014 @ 11:49am PDT

Melisa Wallack Last Witch Hunter Vin DieselSummit Entertainment has hired Oscar-nominated scribe Melisa Wallack to do a polish on the Vin Diesel actioner The Last Witch Hunter, to be directed by Breck Eisner (Sahara, The Crazies). Wallack earned her first Academy Award nomination for last year’s Dallas Buyers Club, which she co-scripted with Craig Borten. Before that she wrote and co-directed 2007 dramedy Meet Bill and penned 2012 Snow White fantasy Mirror Mirror, working on both projects with producer Bernie Goldmann, who co-directed the former and is a producer on Last Witch Hunter. The supernatural tale, about an immortal witch hunter (Diesel) who partners with a witch to save humanity from the covens of New York City, was originally penned by Cory Goodman (Priest) and revised by D.W. Harper. Pic has been brewing since Summit bought Goodman’s pitch for mid-six figures in 2011 with Timur Bekmambetov attached to helm. Eisner came aboard last year to direct. Read More »

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Summit Acquires Book Series ‘Dork Diaries’

By | Tuesday March 25, 2014 @ 10:07am PDT
Mike Fleming

Looking to broaden its Dork-Diaries-Book-1-Pink-Coverbook-centric film portfolio, Summit Entertainment acquired Rachel Renée Russell’s bestselling book series Dork Diaries. Karen Rosenfelt is in talks to produce through her Sunswept Entertainment banner. She did Twilight Saga for Summit. The series revolves … Read More »

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Summit, Participant Media Acquire ‘The Burglary;’ The Story Of 8 Whistleblowers Who Stole Hoover’s FBI Secrets

Mike Fleming

burlEXCLUSIVE: Decades before Julian Assange and Edward Snowden became the scourge of U.S. intelligence organizations by leaking secret documents, an unheralded group of eight anti-war activists broke into an FBI branch office one night in Philadelphia and made off with a treasure trove of classified documents they fed to newspapers that bared the ruthlessness displayed by the FBI in spying on and blackmailing those it considered troublemakers. Summit Entertainment has teamed with Participant Media to acquire the rights to tell the story of those bandits, acquiring the Betty Medsger book The Burglary: The Discovery Of J. Edgar Hoover’s Secret FBI, which was published in January by Knopf, and an accompanying article by Mark Mazzetti published in The New York Times the same month.

hoover__140319224839-275x154They’ve set Scott Z. Burns to write the script and produce with Anonymous Content’s Michael Sugar, with Todd Hoffman exec producing. Ashley Zalta is a co-producer. Burns’ script work includes The Bourne Ultimatum, the Steven Soderbergh-directed Contagion and Side Effects and Fox’s summer sequel Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes. The project was championed by Lionsgate’s Motion Picture Group President Erik Feig, who’ll oversee with Meredith Milton and Participant’s Jonathan King. Read More »

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Robert Schwentke To Direct ‘Divergent’ Sequel ‘Insurgent’

By | Tuesday February 11, 2014 @ 8:32pm PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Summit Entertainment has found its director for Insurgent, the follow-up to the upcoming Divergent that will launch a three-pic series based on Veronica Roth’s sci-fi novels. Robert Schwentke, whose credits include the 2010 action comedy Red that also came from Summit, has been tapped for duty, and he … Read More »

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Summit Buys YA Book Cryogenic Tale ‘Noggin’ For Jamie Linden To Script And Helm

By | Friday February 7, 2014 @ 4:00pm PST
Mike Fleming

NOGBREAKING: Summit Entertainment has landed screen rights to John Corey Whaley’s upcoming Young Adult novel Noggin, with Jamie Linden attached to write the script and direct the film. Wyck Godfrey and Marty Bowen’s Temple Hill Entertainment will produce.

The book will be published in April by the Simon & Schuster imprint Atheneum Books. It’s a pretty clever premise. A dying young man agrees to be cryogenically frozen, Ted Williams style, for as long as it takes for medical science to be able to cure the disease that is killing him. He wakes up just five years later and finds his head grafted onto the body of someone else. He’s still 16, but discovers life has moved on without him. Seeing that his friends have grown up and his life love is engaged to someone else, he tries to find a way to build a new life, even if new scars are inevitable. Whaley’s first book, Where Things Come Back, was critically acclaimed and he became the first young adult author to be selected by the National Book Foundation as a Top 5 Under 35 author. Read More »

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Hot Trailer: ‘Divergent’

By | Tuesday February 4, 2014 @ 10:16am PST

Here’s the final trailer for Summit‘s next big screen YA adaptation Divergent, about a young woman named Tris (Shailene Woodley) living in a dystopian future in which people are divided into five factions based on their personality. When Tris discovers she doesn’t fit into any … Read More »

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Hot Teaser: ‘Divergent’

By | Monday February 3, 2014 @ 7:58pm PST

For those who just can’t wait until a clip of the new Divergent trailer premieres on Jimmy Kimmel Live! later tonight, here’s a 12-second preview. This clip from Summit‘s pic starring Shailene Woodley and Theo James takes the action underwater and high above the streets and features … Read More »

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Chadwick Boseman Set For Summit’s ‘Gods Of Egypt’

By | Thursday January 30, 2014 @ 1:04pm PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Chadwick Boseman has locked a spot in Alex Proyas’ period epic Gods Of Egypt, "42" - Los Angeles Premierewhich Summit Entertainment will release on February 12, 2016. He joins Gerard Butler, Geoffrey Rush, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Brenton Thwaites, and Courtney Eaton in … Read More »

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Forest Whitaker In Talks To Direct And Co-Star In Summit’s ‘The Shack’

By | Thursday January 30, 2014 @ 11:43am PST
Mike Fleming

Forest WhitakerEXCLUSIVE: Forest Whitaker is in negotiations to helm The Shack, the adaptation of the bestselling William Paul Young novel that Summit Entertainment acquired in April 2013. Whitaker would also play a supporting role in the movie, which … Read More »

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Super Bowl Ad: Summit’s ‘Draft Day’

By | Thursday January 30, 2014 @ 8:35am PST

Not much choice but to buy ad time during the Super Bowl for Summit Entertainment‘s Draft Day, the Ivan Reitman-directed pic about an NFL franchise and its beleaguered GM that risks it all during the draft in order to save football in Cleveland (no, this is not a … Read More »

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Hot Trailer: Kevin Costner In ‘Draft Day’

By | Tuesday December 24, 2013 @ 8:44am PST

As the NFL regular season heads into its final week, Summit has suited up the first trailer for its football flick. Kevin Costner stars in Draft Day as the employment-imperiled general manager of the Cleveland Browns, who tries to wheel and deal his way into the … Read More »

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Neil Burger Off ‘Divergent’ Sequel Prompts Summit Statement

By | Tuesday December 17, 2013 @ 10:16am PST
Mike Fleming

Summit Entertainment is clarifying yesterday’s news that Divergent helmer Neil Burger won’t be coming back for the sequel Insurgent. Summit blames post production. Sounds similar to Gary Ross’s withdrawal from the second The Hunger Games because he couldn’t match the fast pace that Lionsgate wanted for Catching Fire, which was … Read More »

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Summit Sets Release Dates For ‘Gods Of Egypt’ ‘Allegiant’ & ‘Step Up 5′

By | Monday December 16, 2013 @ 5:42pm PST

summitSummit Entertainment said today it will release the period epic film Gods Of Egypt on February 12, 2016. Gerard Butler, Geoffrey Rush, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Brenton Thwaites, and Courtney Eaton star in the action-adventure inspired by the mythology of … Read More »

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Hot Trailer: ‘The Legend Of Hercules’

By | Thursday December 12, 2013 @ 5:49pm PST

Here’s the second new trailer in less than two weeks for Twilight alum Kellan Lutz‘s turn as the mythical Greek hero. Complete with harrowing battles and gladiator-arena death matches, director Renny Harlin’s The Legend Of Hercules tells the tale of the half-god, half-man who had been betrayed by … Read More »

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‘Twilight’ Franchise Writer Melissa Rosenberg Tapped To Toughen Female Spy Pic for Summit

By | Tuesday December 10, 2013 @ 10:44am PST

melissarosenberg-copy__111117173846-275x363EXCLUSIVE: Melissa Rosenberg, the screenwriter behind the multi-billion dollar Twilight franchise, has sealed a deal to redraft an untitled female actioner from a comedy to a fast-paced female-ensemble spy pic at Summit Entertainment for producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Mark Vahradian with Benderspink executive producing.

It’s always nice to see projects with a strong female leads written by a strong woman.

The project has gone through previous incarnations with a screenplay originally penned by Douglas S. Cook and David Weisberg (The Rock, Double Jeopardy) under the working title Blank Slate with a re-write by Erich and John Hoeber (Red) under the title The Kiss Off.

The story, now untitled, is now taking a turn away from what was going to be a comedy and gearing more the pic towards a female-centric actioner in the line with Salt, also produced by the team of di Bonaventura and Vahradian. It will focus on a group of female spies.

Given her track record, this is Rosenberg’s baliwick. And having worked myself with former CIA operatives through the Association of the Recovery of Children, I can tell you, the former females spies are just as tough … and definitely more wily … than the guys. Read More »

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Hot Trailer: ‘Divergent’

By | Wednesday November 13, 2013 @ 9:18am PST

The first full-length trailer has dropped for Summit‘s Divergent. Shailene Woodley stars in the sci-fi actioner based on the bestselling novel by Veronica Roth. Divergent is set in a future world where people are divided into distinct factions based on their personalities. When Tris Prior (Woodley) learns … Read More »

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Summit Sets Cedric Nicolas-Troyan To Helm ‘Highlander’ Feature Reboot

By | Monday October 28, 2013 @ 7:14pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Summit Entertainment has found a director for its reboot of Highlander, the tale of a sword-wielding Scottish immortal Connor MacLeod. Cedric Nicolas-Troyan will make his feature directorial debut after serving as visual effects supervisor and second unit director on Snow White And The Huntsman. Summit is moving ahead with script by Iron Man scribes Art Marcum and Matt Holloway that hews close to the 1986 Russell Mulcahy-directed original that starred Christopher Lambert as the title character, who, after being mentored by Ramirez (Sean Connery), spends centuries dueling rivals until it’s only him and the murderously brutal barbarian Kurgan (Clancy Brown). They battle to be the final immortal who’ll influence mankind’s future. For Kurgan, that means raining hell on the world if MacLeod can’t stop him. Neal H. Moritz is producing with original film and series producer Peter Davis. Justin Lin, who once planned to direct, has stayed involved as executive producer.

Because the characters and mythology created by Gregory Widen were squandered in subsequent features, Highlander has been somewhat under the radar. The property stayed alive because of a superb syndicated series that starred Adrian Paul as Duncan MacLeod, a clansman of Connor. This is important because Nicolas-Troyan is as big a fan of this series, as I am. Borrowing the signature catch phrase of the movie and series, “There can be only one,” Nicolas-Troyan knew he was battling against more seasoned filmmakers. He made sure he was the best prepared and the one most steeped in its mythology. And he just learned that he is, in fact, the one. Read More »

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