Media Money with Julia Boorstin

A Hollywood Billion Gets to Work


Summit Entertainment, a new studio launched two weeks ago with $1 billion in financing led by Merrill Lynch, just unveiled its slate of new development projects -- nine that will go into production this year -- with two films going into production this summer. The plan is to release ten to 12 films a year through its domestic pipeline, and they're not wasting any time.

The studio is run by Robert Friedman, Paramount's former vice chairman and chief operating officer, and Patrick Wachsburger, CEO of the foreign sales-focused company that was Summit Entertainment, who aren't looking to platform movies (start small and then expand wide) like, say, Bob Yari's film company does. They're going for commercial, mainstream films that they want to open wide, maximizing on their advertising push.

This summer, they'll start shooting "Get Some," about an Iowa teen thrust into an underground fighting league in Florida and "Step Up 2," the sequel to the teen dance flick. Those are obviously teen-driven commercial fare, but their films aren't all skewing so young. Summit also is co-financing a Paul Haggis (of Entourage fame) project called "In the Valley of Elah," starring Tommy Lee Jones, Charlize Theron and Susan Sarandon -- to be distributed in the U.S. by Warner Independent.

Summit's slate announcement sets the tone -- they aren't messing around; they're for real; and they're not looking to make art -- they're looking to make money.

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