Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. plans to buy Summit Entertainment, producer of the “Twilight” film series, for roughly $400 million in equity, media reports said Sunday.
Citing unnamed sources, The Wall Street Journal said Lions Gate LGF +0.60% has been in serious talks with privately held Summit for more than a month. The two are probably the most successful independent film studios in Hollywood, and a merger would solve a number of issues for them.
Summit’s network of foreign distributors could prove useful to Lions Gate. Meanwhile, Lions Gate is about to rev up a series of new films aimed at young adults, “The Hunger Games,” just as Summit is winding down its “Twilight” series. The last in the series, “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 2” is scheduled for release Nov. 16.
The prospect of a deal first was reported by the Website Deadline.com on Saturday, which said that it consisted of $400 million in equity and an assumption of $300 million in debt. The Journal said, however, that Summit has $300 million in cash and $500 million in debt, and not all that debt would be assumed by Lions Gate.
Summit’s two chiefs, Patrick Wachsberger and Rob Friedman, formerly vice chairman of Paramount Pictures, are expected to stay on and run the Summit operations for Lions Gate, the Journal said. But Deadline.com cites sources that say the pair could be gone as soon as the transition is complete.
Lions Gate has had its hand in a number of diverse film projects, including the successful “Saw” horror film series as well as “Crash,” the 2005 Best Picture Academy Award winner. It also produces a number of cable TV series, including the highly acclaimed “Mad Men” and “Weeds.”
In its short tenure as a high-profile independent film distributor, Summit has made a big splash through the “Twilight” series — which has raked in more than $2.3 billion in worldwide box-office receipts. But it also shocked Hollywood when its film “The Hurt Locker,” won the Oscar for best picture of 2008.