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Summit and Lionsgate discussed merger last fall

February 2, 2009 |  4:35 pm


Summit Entertainment and Lionsgate aren't getting hitched. At least not yet, if ever.

The idea has been broached, according to insiders, but nothing is cooking. Such a corporate marriage, were it to happen, would unite a suddenly hot movie production company with Hollywood's leading independent movie and TV studio, which is behind the "Saw" and "Tyler Perry" franchises.

So far, however, Summit has played hard to get.

A few weeks before the late November release of Summit's box office smash "Twilight," the company headed by Patrick Wachsberger and Rob Friedman, was approached by Lionsgate about a potential merger. Lionsgate, well aware of the teen vampire film's hot pre-release buzz, made an offer for Summit but was rebuffed because the price was too low.Ctlogosmall

Lionsgate and Summit, which are located right around the corner from each other in Santa Monica, say privately that there have been no formal talks since last fall. That's not to say that Lionsgate Chief Executive Jon Feltheimer and Summit's Friedman, who are golfing buddies, would never discuss it between rounds. Who knows?

After all, "Twilight," which was made for $37 million and grossed $341 million worldwide, is a highly prized new movie franchise, one that would fit nicely with Lionsgate's strategy of producing moderately budgeted movies targeted at a specific audience. The sequel, "New Moon," based on the second novel of author Stephenie Meyer's popular four-book series, is due in theaters Nov. 25 of this year. The first film's director, Catherine Hardwicke, dropped out for the next installment and was replaced by Chris Weitz, whose previous credits include "The Golden Compass" and "About a Boy."

"Twilight" put the nearly 2-year-old Summit on the Hollywood map. The start-up's first five releases included such box office flops as "Penelope," "Fly Me to the Moon" and "Sex Drive." Next up for the production and international sales company is "Push," a supernatural thriller with Dakota Fanning that opens Friday, and "Knowing," a mystery thriller starring Nicolas Cage, on March 20.

--Claudia Eller

Photos: Rob Friedman, left (Kevin Winter/Getty Images) and Jon Feltheimer (Vince Bucci/Getty Images)