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Summit sales scale new heights

Company garners over $100 mil in Cannes

Patrick Wachsberger and Rob Friedman’s Summit Entertainment said it had racked up more than $100 million in sales for its current slate of projects in Cannes, a record not approached since 2003 when the company licensed “Alexander” around the world. Wachsberger is co-chairman and president of Summit Entertainment, while Friedman is co-chairman and CEO. Wachsberger is also CEO of Summit International.

The figure is reckoned one of the rosier chalked up here in Cannes by any indie distrib. (Favorable currency exchange with the Euro and the pound will have helped swell the figure as well.)

Wachsberger said Wednesday the buoyant results depend on the breadth of the company’s current slate, its diversity and the star power of some of the titles.

“In my view the so-called programmer is over. Audiences want to be moved and surprised. They want something with edge,” he said Wednesday.

Wachsberger said Roman Polanski’s “Pompeii” would fit that bill. The two together — Polanski and Pompeii are “really cool,” he said. Leaving aside the CGI effects, the film will have “Chinatown” overtones: “It’ll have corruption, thriller aspects and a love story, as well as epic qualities,” he said.

Wachsberger said there were “multiple offers” for “Pompei” on the table from Japanese buyers, but that there was no need to rush a deal.

The Summit topper also said the company would likely be a bidder for U.S. rights to “Pompeii,” which likely won’t go until a cast for the film is set.

In addition to the “Pompeii” epic, Summit has been concentrating on “Nim’s Island” with Jodie Foster and Gerard Butler and on “City of Ember.”

Among the territories completed here on the Croisette, “City of Ember” went to Metropolitan in France and “Nim’s Island” to SND in France. Both are from Summit’s recent pact to distribute movies from Fox Walden, which has as its goal making family movies.

Since its recent billon-dollar cash infusion from Merrill Lynch Summit has begun in earnest to reposition itself as a producer as well as an international distributor. Among the titles to be produced inhouse are “Step Up 2,” following on the $150 million worldwide box office of the original, and “Get Some.”

“We’re going to act as a studio, and try to attract projects in the $15 million to $60 million range,” added Summit Intl. prexy David Garrett.

He also reckoned that a third of the company’s slate going forward would be produced inhouse.

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