Berlin bizzers surprised at Garrett’s Summit exit

New sales topper not firmed yet for merged company

Industryites in Berlin were abuzz with the news that industry stalwart David Garrett, Summit co-founder and president of international, was exiting the company a mere month after the merger with Lionsgate.

The news, which Variety broke out of Los Angeles on Sunday, came as a shock to many bizzers at the fest, particularly as Garrett is still selling Summit’s international slate including “Beautiful Creatures” and “The Tomb” at the European Film Market; both pics have virtually sold out.

Garrett, Patrick Wachsberger and Bob Hayward launched Summit in 1993 as a production, distribution and sales operation. The company’s profile accelerated in recent years thanks to hits such as the “Twilight” franchise and Oscar-winner “The Hurt Locker.”

It’s unclear why Garrett decided to ankle but sources suggesthe simply did not want to continue under the terms of the merger.

Rumors circulating the EFM indicate that Garrett was keen to set up a new company with Wachsberger post-merger, but that didn’t transpire.

The question is, who will head international sales post merger?

Speculation is mounting that Lionsgate’s prexy of international sales, Helen Lee Kim, Garrett’s counterpart, will fill the overarching international sales position.

Kim is also at the Berlinale talking to buyers, but unlike Summit, didn’t bring titles to the market.

A merged Lionsgate and Summit will both have to slash positions. However, it was believed the sales teams — Summit’s headed by Garrett and Lionsgate’s by Kim — would continue as is for 2012 with both reporting to Wachsberger.

Garrett’s resignation is a blow to the international sales industry. He has headed up Summit’s London base since 1993 and has served as international supervisor over Summit-produced, co-produced and acquired titles such as “American Pie,” “Memento,” “Mr. & Mrs. Smith,” “Babel” and “Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.”

Garrett begain his entertainment industry career in 1981 producing and marketing docus.

He was a pioneer in the early days of U.K. cable and satellite TV development.

(Rachel Abrams and Josh Dickey contributed to this report.)

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