You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Summit’s success story

Distrib's patience with 'The Hurt Locker' pays off

Three years after reinventing itself as U.S. distributor, Summit Entertainment has achieved a level of prestige that comes only from winning Oscars.

With “The Hurt Locker” winning Best Picture along with the directing, original screenplay, editing and both sound categories, Summit has elevated its status in the kudos realm to complement its box office success as home to the “Twilight” franchise.

“We have a deep debt of gratitude to Summit Entertainment,” said producer Greg Shapiro in his acceptance speech.

It’s an outcome that few could have foreseen in April 2007, when Rob Friedman and Patrick Wachsberger began transforming Summit from a foreign sales company into a full-service production and distribution studio. Friedman, who had been vice chairman at Paramount, came aboard as Summit announced a $1 billion financing deal with Merrill Lynch and a consortium of investors.

A year and half later, Summit bought “The Hurt Locker” at the Toronto film festival — a few months before “Twilight” opened.

“We fell in love with it,” Friedman recalled last year of the decision to acquire “Locker” for $1.5 million. “We see this as being about heroes like Steve McQueen and John Wayne, and it just happens to be set in Iraq.”

When Summit hit it big with “Twilight,” it followed up almost immediately with plans for three more films based on the Stephenie Meyer novels. Friedman and Wachsberger said Summit would stick to its original strategy of releasing and distributing 10-12 films per year with a focus on the mid-range films that the majors are less likely to greenlight.

Summit also decided to hold off on a 2008 release for “Hurt Locker,” staying out of the fall scramble for kudos despite having received mostly laudatory reviews and a Venice film fest grand prize. The reasoning was that the film might stand a better chance with a platformed summer release, so Summit screened the pic at ShoWest in March of 2009, began a low-key publicity campaign and launched the pic in four theaters on June 26.

The film never went wider in the United States than 535 locations during its run, which generated $14.7 million — far better than most other Iraq dramas such as “In the Valley of Elah,” which grossed $6.8 million. “Locker” took in another $6 million overseas.

That’s miniscule compared to the $1.1 billion combined worldwide grosses thus far for Summit’s two “Twilight” films, but the company now has a level of added status that comes from backing a film that enjoyed a strong awards-season run.

Related:
Complete list of winners
TV review: 82nd annual Academy Awards
‘Hurt Locker’ wins big at Oscars
Bigelow first woman to win director Oscar
Oscars draw 41 million viewers

More Film

  • Love 1. Dog Review

    Sarajevo Film Review: ‘Love 1. Dog’

    Three years after reinventing itself as U.S. distributor, Summit Entertainment has achieved a level of prestige that comes only from winning Oscars. With “The Hurt Locker” winning Best Picture along with the directing, original screenplay, editing and both sound categories, Summit has elevated its status in the kudos realm to complement its box office success […]

  • Jeffrey Katzenberg

    Jeffrey Katzenberg on Oscars' New Popular Film Category Controversy

    Three years after reinventing itself as U.S. distributor, Summit Entertainment has achieved a level of prestige that comes only from winning Oscars. With “The Hurt Locker” winning Best Picture along with the directing, original screenplay, editing and both sound categories, Summit has elevated its status in the kudos realm to complement its box office success […]

  • Most-Anticipated Fall Movies 2018: 'A Star

    Fall Movie Preview 2018: 'Venom,' 'A Star Is Born,' 'Halloween'

    Three years after reinventing itself as U.S. distributor, Summit Entertainment has achieved a level of prestige that comes only from winning Oscars. With “The Hurt Locker” winning Best Picture along with the directing, original screenplay, editing and both sound categories, Summit has elevated its status in the kudos realm to complement its box office success […]

  • Aretha Franklin 1972

    Aretha on Screen: What's the Fate of Jennifer Hudson Biopic and Embattled 'Amazing Grace' Doc?

    Three years after reinventing itself as U.S. distributor, Summit Entertainment has achieved a level of prestige that comes only from winning Oscars. With “The Hurt Locker” winning Best Picture along with the directing, original screenplay, editing and both sound categories, Summit has elevated its status in the kudos realm to complement its box office success […]

  • Ruth Wilson

    'The Affair's' Ruth Wilson Stays Mum on Controversial Exit

    Three years after reinventing itself as U.S. distributor, Summit Entertainment has achieved a level of prestige that comes only from winning Oscars. With “The Hurt Locker” winning Best Picture along with the directing, original screenplay, editing and both sound categories, Summit has elevated its status in the kudos realm to complement its box office success […]

  • CULVER CITY, CA - AUGUST 16:

    'To All the Boys I've Loved Before' Star Lana Condor on Bringing More Diversity to Movies

    Three years after reinventing itself as U.S. distributor, Summit Entertainment has achieved a level of prestige that comes only from winning Oscars. With “The Hurt Locker” winning Best Picture along with the directing, original screenplay, editing and both sound categories, Summit has elevated its status in the kudos realm to complement its box office success […]

  • The Wife TIFF

    Glenn Close and Jonathan Pryce Examine Secrets and Lies in 'The Wife'

    Three years after reinventing itself as U.S. distributor, Summit Entertainment has achieved a level of prestige that comes only from winning Oscars. With “The Hurt Locker” winning Best Picture along with the directing, original screenplay, editing and both sound categories, Summit has elevated its status in the kudos realm to complement its box office success […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content