After weeks of swirling merger rumors, Lionsgate is now nearing a possible outright acquisition of Summit Entertainment in an deal totaling around $700 million, EW has confirmed. The turn of events is a little surprising, given Summit’s runaway success with the Twilight franchise and the difficult year Lionsgate just had at the box office. The deal itself is not yet final — Lionsgate, a publicly traded company, will have to disclose final details of the acquisition should it go through — but Summit’s top execs are at the moment set to remain at the new company. (Deadline first reported the story.)
The biggest question moving forward, meanwhile, is what would happen to the mini-studios’ respective film slates. Lionsgate, of course, is hoping the impending premiere of The Hunger Games will launch a massively lucrative franchise. But Summit is also co-financing and is slated to release OddLot Entertainment’s adaptation of the sci-fi adventure Ender’s Game, which shares some striking similarities with Hunger Games — namely a post-apocalyptic totalitarian society that pits children against each other (in the case of Ender’s Game, it’s to train them to fend off an invading alien threat).
Summit is also behind I, Alex Cross, which stars Tyler Perry in his first lead role in a film he did not write or direct; and as it happens, Perry extended his deal with Lionsgate last year to release his films as a writer-director.
There are other possible overlaps between the two studios — Summit has Step Up 4, while Lionsgate has the remake of Dirty Dancing; and Summit has a handful of the kind of genre-soaked horror flicks that Lionsgate is best known for. No doubt execs at both companies will have to take a hard look at all of their films to see which will make it to theaters, and which may find themselves hunting for another studio. A rep for Summit had no comment; reps for Lionsgate have not yet returned requests for comment.