The Twilight Saga films may be over, but the battle for money from the blockbuster franchise is not. Financier Goldcrest Film Distribution hit Summit today with a multimillion-dollar breach of contract lawsuit (read it here) over the movies. “As a direct result of Defendant’s deceptive accounting practices in which it systematically understates the Twilight revenues and overstates its costs, however, Goldcrest has received many millions of dollars less than it is due,” says the heavily redacted document filed today in LA Superior Court. The plaintiff says they are trying “to recover several million dollars in payments” from the more than $392 million that the first Twilight made worldwide. In a 2008 sub-distribution deal Goldcrest says in the filing it agreed to front Summit and others $10 million for four films based on the bestselling vampire books by Stephenie Meyer. For the upfront payment, the London-based financier was to get a hefty slice of the pics’ global net revenue.
Obviously that didn’t happen to Goldcrest’s satisfaction with what they allege are fast and loose moves on the part of Summit, now a Lionsgate subsidiary. “We uncovered numerous improper accounting charges, including retroactive ‘bonuses’ paid to actors Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson after Twilight was released, which were not due under their agreements. These bonuses were paid and charged back to Goldcrest long after Twilight was completed,” said Goldcrest attorney Mark Holscher of Kirkland & Ellis in a statement … Read More »
Lionsgate‘s Summit has acquired Millennium Films‘ Hercules: The Legend Begins, investing further in Kellan Lutz, who broke out as a vampire in Summit’s Twilight Saga and will co-star in Lionsgate’s The Expendables 3. Lutz takes center stage in the action-adventure as the titular Greek demigod hero. Sold into slavery, he must gain his freedom to save his true love Hebe, the Princess of Crete (Gaia Weiss). This is the latest bid for action hero status by Lutz, who has been filling out his non-Twilight résumé with such fare as Tarsem’s Immortals, IFC Film’s Java Heat, and Summit’s motion-capture Tarzan. The Renny Harlin-directed Hercules will hit theaters in 2D and 3D on February 7, battling WB’s The Lego Movie and Sony’s George Clooney-helmed The Monuments Men. The film also stars Lutz’s Expendables franchise-mate Scott Adkins (Expendables 2), Liam McIntyre (Spartacus), Liam Garrigan (Strike Back), Johnathon Schaech, Roxanne McKee (Game of Thrones), and Rade Serbedzija. Daniel Eliat scripted and Danny Lerner, Les Weldon, Boaz Davidson, and Harlin produced. Avi Lerner, Trevor Short and John Thompson are exec producers. Lionsgate’s Jason Constantine, Eda Kowan, and Wendy Jaffe negotiated the deal with Avi Lerner and Mark Gill for Millennium.
After the six major studios wrapped up their turns in front of the CinemaCon convention goers with 20th Century Fox earlier today, it was Lionsgate‘s turn to carry the flag for the indie sector, even though NATO’s John Fithian said last year that in Lionsgate we are seeing the birth of the “seventh major studio”. And although some of the speakers during the company’s relatively brief presentation this afternoon took up that mantle, Lionsgate in its sizzle reel actually touted the fact that they are the only non-major to actually go over $1 billion in a single year — certainly thanks to the dynamic duo of Summit’s Twilight finales and The Hunger Games, which became the third-highest-grossing film of 2012 with more than $400 million domestically. So are they are a major? A mini-major? A true independent? Or just a money-minting film company with a couple of franchises the real majors would kill for (and in the case of Twilight actually passed on — ouch).
But as befits any wannabe major, a spiffier, more corporate logo was in order, and as Deadline reported earlier they debuted it for the theatre owners here in Las Vegas. As distribution head Richie Fay put it during his turn onstage, “Lionsgate is an overnight success that was 12 years in the making”.
As far as the presentation went, Lionsgate certainly took an independent route from the way the majors have behaved all week, offering a musical-chairs lineup of executives taking their turn in front of delegates who crowded into the Colosseum to check out the product. In addition to Fay, we also heard from CEO and co-founder Jon Feltheimer, co-chairman of Lionsgate Motion Picture Group Rob Friedman and AMC theatres exec Elizabeth Frank, who pointed out the company released 20 major films in 2012 and led the field 11 separate weeks. She said her company was looking forward to the 17 movies on tap this year and many of them were showcased for the first time over the course of the 80-minute show emceed by comedian Kevin Hart. Read More »
Ashley Judd is in negotiations to join the cast of Divergent, Deadline has learned. The 2014 sci-fi pic from Summit stars Shailene Woodley and Theo James in the YA adaptation of Veronica Roth’s best seller, set in a world in which young adults are divided into factions based on their personalities.
Ben Lloyd-Hughes will play teen initiate Will, Ben Lamb will play Edward, and Christian Madsen will play Al in the 2014 sci-fi pic from Summit. Shailene Woodley and Theo James star in the YA adaptation of Veronica Roth’s best seller, set in a world in which young adults are divided into factions based on their personalities. Kate Winslet, Jai Courtney, Zoe Kravitz, Ansel Elgort, and Maggie Q are also aboard the pic. Neil Burger is directing from a script by Evan Daugherty and Vanessa Taylor. Doug Wick and Lucy Fisher are producing for Red Wagon Entertainment with Pouya Shahbazian. Rachel Shane is executive producing for Red Wagon, with Erik Feig and Gillian Bohrer overseeing for Lionsgate.
Filming begins this April in Chicago on the futuristic teen action pic, which Summit has slated for March 21, 2014. Lloyd-Hughes is represented by CAA and Lamb by WME; both are managed by Lena Roklin. Madsen is repped by DBA-Fortitude and managed by Creative Partners Group.
The frontloaded worldwide total for Summit Entertainment’s Breaking Dawn Part 2 is $340.9M through today – or $141.3M domestic + $199.6M international. That helped its parent company Lionsgate achieve a first-ever milestone for it at the North American box office – crossing the $1 billion mark ($1.09B). This is also the first time ever that a studio has opened two films – Breaking Dawn Part 2 and The Hunger Games – to over $125M in the same year. And it certainly explains why Lionsgate was so eager to acquire Summit. Now Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga is ending, but Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games franchise is still reeling. Francis Lawrence is directing first sequel Catching Fire, now in production and set for a November 2013 release, and has signed to helm the final two installments, Mockingjay Part 1 (November 2014) and Mockingjay Part 2 (November 2015).
Lionsgate has slated Summit Entertainment’s The Impossible, the Naomi Watts-Ewan McGregor movie about a family that survived the 2004 tsunami, to open December 21st in New York and Los Angeles. The Spanish-made movie was directed by J.A. Bayona (The Orphanage) from a script by Sergio G. Sánchez.
EXCLUSIVE: Summit Entertainment wants Anthony Hopkins to join the cast of Red 2. And Hopkins wants to do it. The sticking point is whether or not he can make the dates work with Thor 2, as he’s already committed to reprising his role as Thor’s father Odin. Red 2 will be directed by Dean Parisot, with Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, and John Malkovich expected to reprise, and Catherine Zeta-Jones and Byung Hun-Li joining the cast. Hopkins would play Edward Bailey, a villain. He’s currently playing Alfred Hitchcock in Fox Searchlight‘s making-of-Psycho pic.
Summit Entertainment has set Catherine Zeta-Jones G.I. Joe: Retaliation’s Byung-Hun Lee for Red 2, a sequel to the geriatric action comedy. Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Mary-Louise Parker and Helen Mirren are back. Lionsgate International will sell the film at the upcoming Cannes film market. Dean Parisot is the new director, and the script is by Erich and Jon Hoeber, who wrote the first one. Lorenzo DiBonaventura and Mark Vahradian will produce the film via their DiBonaventura Pictures banner.
The sequel re-teams the retired CIA operatives as they use their old-school style to take on a new set of enemies all across Europe. The film is scheduled to be released on August 2, 2013.
Malkovich, Parker, and Zeta-Jones are represented by WME. Willis, Mirren, and Lee are represented by CAA. Malkovich is represented by Principato-Young Entertainment.
EXCLUSIVE: One of the biggest question marks since Lionsgate merged with Summit has been what would happen to their two veteran marketing heads, Tim Palen and Nancy Kirkpatrick. So here’s what’s been decided because the two companies have a big slate of films coming: Tim Palen has just been given a new long-term deal as Chief Marketing Officer at Lionsgate, which is the title he already holds. And Summit’s President of Worldwide Marketing Nancy Kirkpatrick will continue in her role. Included on their individual plates are more Hunger Games films for Lionsgate as well the finale of the Twilight Saga, Breaking Dawn Part 2, for Summit. I think it’s a smart decision to keep the two marketing groups especially since the two labels are still separate for now and the forseeable future, if for no other reasons than you’d hate to see either of these two pros go to the competition. And if the two labels ever become one, then Palen and Kirkpatrick should have a Fight Club brawl — and I’ll be there to watch.
UPDATE: Lionsgate’s announcement today of a reorganization of international operations looks to be one of the final elements to its integration of Summit. But the impact of the companies’ consolidation has yet to be fully borne out on an international scale. The upcoming Cannes Film Festival should be a good indicator of the future shape of the new entity. Following the departure in February of Summit International president David Garret – announced during the EFM in Berlin – Lionsgate today confirmed speculation that head of international Helen Lee Kim is also departing. She will remain through the Cannes market which runs from May 16-25, however, and is expected to fully exit near the end of the year. After laying off about 80 staff across the two companies in March, I hear that no further firings came as a result of today’s restructure. Read More »
This teaser trailer is another example of the synergy between Summit and Lionsgate after the two became one in January. It merges the November 16th finale Breaking Dawn – Part 2 for Hollywood’s biggest teen-centered movie franchise of The Twilight Saga with what Lionsgate hopes is an even bigger franchise The Hunger Games coming out March 23th.
EXCLUSIVE: There’s more movement on the Summit Entertainment and Lionsgate film front now that the two companies have become one. I’ve just learned that Summit Entertainment’s President of Worldwide Production and Acquisitions Erik Feig will be named President Of Production of the Lionsgate Motion Picture Group. Feig has worked at Summit for the past 11 years. Then 2 years ago Walt Disney Studios boss Rich Ross tried to woo the billions-dollar-franchise Twilight Saga guru away from Summit. But Feig stayed loyal and, besides, he was still under contract and has been a partner at Summit since 2007. As for Lionsgate’s Joe Drake and Alli Sheamur, their positions remain the same for now although I hear that Sheamur is talking to Lionsgate about her future role at the company. “She’ll continue to focus on the movies shes working on,” an insider tells me, “and they’re trying very hard to keep her there.” Read More »
Summit Entertainment got a head start on on awards season the day after Labor Day, September 6, by sending out DVD screeners of their boxoffice-challenged A Better Life. Because this Oscar hopeful is a small human drama they opened June 24 (the same ”good luck” weekend Best Picture winner The Hurt Locker opened two years ago) the company knew they would have to define it in different ways. It became the first movie of the season to set up Q&As in June with star Demian Bichir for SAG’s then-newly formed nominating committee. Bichir and director Chris Weitz have since been doing receptions for press and awards voters, lots of interviews and generally beating the drum for their “little movie that could.” Both appeared for a Q&A at Deadline’s The Contenders event December 10 at the Landmark. Weitz was blunt about the importance of achieving recognition for the film even though it has been out on commercial DVD since October. “I’m glad some of the gloves came off during the moguls panel about wanting to get nominated. We lost the first round at the boxoffice but we’re going to keep fighting,” he said. He knows the film won’t get a Best Picture nomination but is hoping there will be recognition for Bichir. “The film is giving voice to the 11 million people (illegal immigrants) who will not be watching the Academy Awards, but millions of other people will be watching. I’m betting the President of the United States will be watching as well. This is our moment for the film.”
The movie about an illegal immigrant gardener Carlos Galindo (Bichir) who tries to create a better life for his U.S. born son — while also trying to stay and work in the country himself — has been a long shot. It pulled off a major coup December 14 when the SAG Awards announced their five nominees for Best Actor and leading the list was none other than Bichir who was understandably thrilled. “My name starts with a ‘B’ so I thought if I get it I am gonna be first. It was almost like a joke or something but then it happened,” he told me during a recent phone interview. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Writer Will Reiser used his own experiences with cancer to create the screenplay for Summit’s 50/50 starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen and Anjelica Huston. Described as a “cancer comedy,” it is also full of gripping drama. The result has been early awards-season success — trophies for Best Original Screenplay from the Washington D.C. area Film Critics and the National Board of Review. It also has been nominated for an Independent Spirit Award and a Critics Choice Movie Award from the Broadcast Film Critics Association. Check out the full script here.
Can Presidential politics actually boost the profile of an under-the-radar Oscar hopeful? That could be a scenario the multitudes of awards consultants working on Summit Entertainment’s summer indie, A Better Life starring Demián Bachir might consider as they try to draw voter attention to this well-reviewed June release which grossed less than $2 million in its domestic release. Because the film puts a very human face on the hot button issue of illegal immigration. This is really a touching father-son story about an undocumented Los Angeles laborer trying to forge a better life for his kid while keeping him away from gangs. Its reps hope to gain recognition not just for the pic but also for Bichir in an uphill campaign against much higher profile Best Actor contenders like George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Gary Oldman, Ryan Gosling and others. Year-end recognition from critics groups could really help Bichir and this film which now stands at 86% positive on Rotten Tomatoes. Summit’s 2009 Best Picture winner, The Hurt Locker also was a low grosser and a June release — but saw its Oscar stock soar when it started winning those critics awards.
At what was billed as a DVD release party this week, but which really served as an awards season campaign kickoff, I noticed several Academy members in attendance. The packed event at Culina in Beverly Hills had lots of political talk, much of it about the GOP presidential debates where candidates are engaged in tough ‘kick em out of the country’ rhetoric on the subject of illegal immigrants in America. A Better Life director Chris Weitz told me he’s outraged by the way politicians are using the plight of undocumented workers to score political points during the Republican debates. He says the whole experience of making the film has really “politicized” him in a way he hadn’t imagined.
From the presidential race to the Oscar race, A Better Life has longer odds. “What can we do to help this film?” one frustrated awards consultant asked me while noting the stiff competition out there. It’s a frequent question I hear from awards campaigners who usually employ parties, Q&A screenings, and getting its lesser known stars (in the U.S. at least) out there on the awards “circuit”. But I say Oscar strategists just might want to look no further than the Hollywood-bashing GOP for some ironic help. After all, Republicans are giving immigration lots of TV time almost weekly during their contentious debates. Tagging on to presidential politics might be one way to keep the film talked about and relevant, even in the shadow of the all the big Academy Awards contenders to come in the last two months of the year. Summit smartly employed that strategy with The Hurt Locker when it hit the Oscar trail by emphazing its topicality and credibility after initially marketing it as a suspenseful war movie. Read More »