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Sunday Discussion: Can Twilight Put Summit Entertainment on the Map?

by
November 16, 2008

Sunday Discussion: Can Twilight Put Summit Entertainment on the Map?

I know what you're thinking - I finally caught Twilight fever. I haven't, though, in fact, I'm sure I never will, I still hate Twilight. But I have been thinking about it, because with all the press and publicity it's getting, there's no way you can't think about it. And here's the thing about Twilight - it is set to break some big records. The biggest November opening so far was Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire with a $103 million opening weekend. As of early last week (the most recent stats I could find), Twilight had already sold out at least 100 shows. At that rate, it's bound to sell out every midnight show by mid-week. All of this is just the typical buzz we usually hear - but it means a lot more when it's for an independent studio.

Summit EntertainmentTwilight is being distributed (in the US) by Summit Entertainment. Who are they? Well, their first official release was a horror flick called P2 from last year. While they've been around for a while as a sales rep and production company, they've only started distributing films on their own for barely a year. They're an independent studio, as we might call them, and have only put out a few other small films like Fly Me to the Moon and Never Back Down. So again, why is Twilight so important to this studio? Well, if it's poised to potentially make $70 million on opening weekend (which is my own current prediction) and even more in its domestic run, it could really put Summit Entertainment on the map in Hollywood - and allow them to shake things up.

As always, I tend to write controversial articles about purely speculative ideas. I don't claim to know the inner workings of the business side of Hollywood, but I know that no other independent studio has made this much money in a long time. Even Lionsgate is no longer a true independent studio, considering they were first established in 1997 and put out big hitters nowadays anyway. In a town where few independent studios release films that make over $100 million, it's quite refreshing to see someone like Summit get the opportunity to join the ranks of the "big boys." Other smaller studios like The Weinstein Company are on their way out (at least that's what I believe), so this is Summit's big chance to step up.

TwilightOne might say the smartest decision Summit ever made was give the greenlight to Twilight. It's not just that it has the potential to set records and make Hollywood rethink romantic teenage vampire stories, but it has the potential to bring a young new studio into the spotlight. I'm not saying that Hollywood needs to be shaken up, but I'm interested to see what Summit might be able to do once they have a boat load of cash in their bank account. They seem very supportive of projects that otherwise would have never gotten off the ground. And maybe their executives have some new ideas in terms of marketing or distribution. When Twilight takes off next weekend, it will give them that opportunity to put these ideas to use.

I tried getting in touch with Summit to talk with their two executives - Rob Friedman and Patrick Wachsberger. But I never heard back and was never able to talk with them. Maybe I am jumping the gun on this whole idea. Or maybe I just like thinking that Summit could hit it big with Twilight. I really hope they do because I'd like to see a young new studio give some of the older ones a run for their money. It might force them to stop being so lazy with their releases and actually start working on better films. I love the idea of progression and allowing the "young" to influence the "old" - and in business these days, that rarely happens. So to see this anomaly known as Twilight put Summit on the map makes me quite happy.

Only time will tell if anything actually does happen. Twilight will hit theaters next weekend and I'm certain most shows will sell out - it just has that kind of buzz at the moment. It's going to make lots and lots of money, there's no question about that. The only questions that remain are: What will this do for Summit Entertainment? Will Hollywood start up more risky projects like Twilight in the future? Will this change the way anything works in Hollywood or be just another big hit and nothing more? I always predict that big hits will have some sort of powerful impact on Hollywood - and this time I think this one will. Although I'm not a fan of Twilight myself, I can at least recognize the beast that it has currently become.

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  • Adam
    this movie will suck
  • Red Buttons
    of course it sucks. But people are going bat shit crazy for this. and i am sure it will make a boat load of money and that is more power to the producers for it. All i know is i will be going to see bond during twilight opening weekend for the much less crowded theater.
  • Keith
    Twilight is one of the best-selling novels in recent years with an absolutely huge teenage fanbase, and a very good cast and director are attached so I don't understand how this is a risky project. Let me add that I haven't read the series, for whatever thats worth. I think a $100 mil prediction is much too high. I'm guessing it will make $45-55 mil. I'll make a narrower prediction as we get closer to release date.
  • Itri
    They're so WHITE!
  • HallHCoverage
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FGhaOuPOUBE A link to the cast, writer, and director discussing the film and fielding questions from fans. From this year's Comic Con in San Diego.
  • Jack Donaghy
    $100 million? Sure. I'll get right on to laying down that bet when I decide to have sexual reassignment surgery and go by the name Georgina. This will top out at $45 million at the most for two reasons: 1) not enough chick appeal for the dicks being sucked into seeing this for dating purposes and 2) the so called "action sequences" look terrible.
  • Blue Silver
    This film looks better than most of the generic crap out there today! This DOES have potential. I second that Alex, despite what the haters say---after all, they are entitled to their opinions too! :)
  • Spider
    I'm always one to root for the underdog, the faded star, or the potential for a colossal upset. I hope Summit succeeds with this flick. There is a lot of buzz and anticipation among the young ones for this.
  • Janny
    shows one again that media hype drives people to do things they might later regret... spiderman 3 anyone? PS: didn't pay to see spiderman 3... that movie was worse than daredevil
  • bishop8496
    I do hope this does bode well for Summit Studio as they will start to release other films, but I think it will do well in the first week then fissile, as it has a small - albeit dedicated, fan based, its a wait & see for this film. Maybe 40 - 55 mil & not so much than
  • bishop8496
    I do hope this does bode well for Summit Studio as they will start to release other films, but I think it will do well in the first week then fissile, as it has a small - albeit dedicated, fan based, its a wait & see for this film. Maybe 40 - 55 mil & not so much than that.
  • Hyacinth
    This movie is going to suck. But regardless of that, I think it will make money. Loads of money. From the merchandising to the e-bay auction of Robert Pattinson's coffee cup, it will make a lot of people rich. A sad thing when a movie with no chemistry, a cheesy script and bad effects can top the box office. But then again, Spiderman is still running for the 4th and 5th installments...
  • JL
    Fuck Twilight. Go see Role Models. Or Quantum of Solace.
  • Lady Aerin
    I'm still a firm believer that this is getting blown way out of proportion. Sure, the last book sold a million books opening day. But that number accounts for half of the total copies sold since August, and it hasn't even sold out its first print run yet. Best-seller, yes, massive sensation, don't be fooled. The movie run is going to go the same way as the books did. Yes, they've sold an assload of tickets in presale. But those ticket sales will account for the majority of the total grosses. Because the sad fact is, aside from existing fans of the book and industry watchers, NO ONE KNOWS ABOUT THIS MOVIE. Seriously. Advertising has been absent to the point that the poster isn't even displayed at either of my local AMCs, booted in favor of Oscar bait and movies with larger proven fanbases. (Again, the last book only sold 2.7 million. That's a good number for books and a piss-poor number for movie tickets.) I mentioned to a friend at work how amusing I thought the whole Twilight thing was, and he said, "What's Twilight?" The only thing people who haven't been specifically watching this thing have seen is the wretched trailers and the incoherent mass of hormones that is the fanbase (if that), neither of which is going to get them into the theatre. Hell, until I started poking around online looking for news about Watchmen, I hadn't the slightest idea that this was expected to be a mega-hit movie. I expect it to open in third place with a decent showing as Bolt and Quantum of Solace fight over the first two positions. It'll plummet like a stone in the second week, 70-80%, because everyone who is interested in seeing it will be there opening weekend. If budget estimates are higher than what Summit has released, as some sources believe, then this movie will probably just about break even in the global market, and any profits will come from merchandise. Summit will go on the map, all right, as a cautionary tale of what happens when you rely on 14-year-old girls to entice adults to see your movie.
  • L
    While the concept of Twilight is not original by any means, this one just happened to be the one that was picked up in pop culture. While I do not see any appeal in this, the movie could definitely be a money train. The way that girls from 11-21 view this book, it wont matter about production quality. They will be worried about one thing; is the story intact, regardless of who's acting in it. I'm thinking that if the story holds to the original novel, then this does have $100 million opening potential. My brother is being forced to read the book, so he knows what is going on when he's dragged to see it, poor bastard.
  • darrin
    i actually hate saying this but, i saw the movie, it was actually decent. i would give it 8 out of 10.
  • Kyle
    I'm being cautious about labling this a complete smash that will pillage the box office however, I do think it will be successful and apparantly the sequels have been greenlit so I think the possibility of Summit being put on the map by this is very possible. If they could only steal the rights to Eragon from FOX and make it a dynamite film that it should have been, I'll be sold. ; )
  • Laser-beak
    Well we all know that Hollywood DOES need to be shaken up, so more power to 'em.
  • Lady Aerin
    The sequels haven't been greenlit, they've been optioned. There's a big difference there. Serenity had two optioned sequels based on the gigantic nature of its buzz, and the fact that it appeared to be a geek phenomenon poised to take in gigantic box office. Except when the dust settled, the numbers were in, and the movie didn't even end up making all of its money back (fell just shy of breaking even in theatrical release), and we were forced to come to the harsh realization that there weren't as many of us as we'd let ourselves believe. And trust me, the noise for Serenity was a lot louder than the noise for Twilight. Don't believe me? There were a few advance screenings that opened up ticket sales to fans, to see an unfinished cut of the film. The screenings sold out in minutes. I don't think even the smallest market had tickets an hour after sales began. People don't remember the noise because it faded so quickly after the movie flopped, but I remember, because I was right there making that noise. (Hell, I'm probably the only Browncoat in the world taking an interest in Twilight, and that's only so far as to pronounce box office doom. No self-respecting Joss Whedon fan will want to see such a poor imitation of Buffy, which is the perception whether or not it's true.) There's no way it can open at $100M against a movie being marketed by Disney, the studio that pushed the giant pile of crap known as Beverly Hills Chihuahua to a $20M opening in the off-season, especially when Summit hasn't been doing any marketing at all, and especially when the current top contenders in the box office look to have very long legs. The world's a lot bigger than what it looks like from the blogosphere, and once again, no one will realize that until too late.
  • Thomas
    As much as i hate to say it, this movie is going to be huge...it might suck, but the fan base for it is gigantic...the actor who plays the guy in this was at borders in San Francisco and there was someting like 3000 people there, they had to call the police in to control it and it eventually got cancelled, this is gonna be like sex in the city, but bigger imho
  • Pickle
    I won't bad mouth anything, but if this movie grabs the Hannah Montana/High School Musical crowd, there will no doubt be a sequel. There is a lot of buzz at my niece's and nephew's schools (different middle schools)!! If this is a gauge of some sort--this film will make bank......and we all know what that means...............
  • Blue Silver
    Let me just put it this way: Obviously this movie is not for us at this board---we are not the demographic--but never underestimate the spending power of today's youth and their fickle tastes! :)
  • janet
    I think Twilight is going to be great for Summit and hopefully this will really get them off the ground. I agree that I would love to see more independent studios get back in the game and this example might help. I certainly don't think it's going to have a gigantic opening but I definitely think it could come in first. Someone up above said that they put it at 45-55mil and I think that's a good estimate with it maybe going into the 60's but anything higher then that and I would definitely be surprised. I actually don't think Bolt is going to do all that well next weekend because I think a lot of parents are going to wait until the following Thanksgiving weekend to take the family to see that. Personally, I would really enjoy seeing Summit come out on top against Disney.
  • duca
    Although I'm REALLY not a fan of Twilight I must admit that it would be nice for Summit to do well. I too like the idea of a independant company rising in the ranks. I believe their next film is Push (I could be wrong on this) with Dakota Fanning. Although this film also looks very cheese ball it also looks like it could be a lot of fun and deffiantely not the norm (Telekinetic gun fight!! XD). It seems that Summit likes the genre movies and if they have the ability to increase these types of films budgets it could be a real oppurtunity for genre film in general. However, considering how strong Quantom of Solace is doing I really can't picture Twilight knocking it out of the number one spot. That movie is making MASSIVE bank and it will only be in its second week. One can argue of course that they are different genres and targeted at different audiences but I don't think the teenage girl demo can beat out the anything over the age of 15 with a pulse demo. After all, there are a LOT more adults then teenage girls. *shruggs* I'm no expert though. Perhaps it's because I live in Canada but I haven't seen a single commerical/poster/advert for Twilight outside of the internet. Is it just me being a hermit?
  • Lady Aerin
    I doubt it's going to attract the High School Musical crowd; the little advertising that's gotten out has been far too dark for kids that young. High School Musical itself is still in the top five at the box office, plus Madagascar's selling gangbusters. Bolt's buzz isn't quite as loud, but it a lot more prevalent among a much broader demographic, and the early reviews are all positive. And while Twilight can slap the faces of its stars on everything they want, I'm still seeing a lot more Bolt merchandise, not just in the stores, but actually in the hands of the consumer. (Those adorable little Bolt plushies are freaking everywhere.) Plus, I really don't understand how people think that Twilight is going to attract the Hannah Montana crowd this weekend when the other major opening actually stars Miley Cyrus herself. Given that most of the trailers don't feature her character prominently, it's probably a small part, but her name has been right beside John Travolta's on everything specifically for that purpose. Believe me, I have very personal reasons for distancing myself from the company, but I can't deny that what Disney does well, it does better than anyone in the business. That used to be making quality movies, now it's making movies sell. It'll be Bolt, Quantum of Solace, Twilight, in that order, and the question will simply be a matter of margins.
  • That one guy
    When I first heard about this I figured the only people going to see that are the idiotic teenage fangirls and their poor boyfriends that get dragged along. Then I remembered that my girlfriend is one of those idiots and that I'll end up being forced to see it. Here's my strategy: Tell her you'd love to go, if she'll just do something for you as well. I would pretend to like this tripe bullshit for some sort of compensation...
  • Not only do its trailers frighten me (because i'm yet another who is going to be dragged into the theater), its IMDB roster frighten me and its sheer magnitude of rather sudden cult following frighten me. But the fact that i've YET to see a damn review on rottentomatoes about it. Literally NO ONE i've found has yet to view a pre-release showing of any kind or has seen anything leaked from this film. It's like possibly having shit thrown at you blindfolded: you dont know where it'll, hit how it'll hit or how much is going to inevitably hit you. All you can do is sit, wait and wonder how the hell you got pulled into such a moronic situation.
  • DK
    Agree with those who think it wasn't all that big of a risk. I hate the Twilight series too, but the facts are, it does have a pretty staggering fanbase. I live in the Westwood area in L.A. and there were a bunch of fans who camped out overnight for the premiere on Monday. Stephenie Meyer has been touted by a lot of (ignorant) press and hyped by Borders, TIME Magazine, etc. etc. looking to fill the Harry Potter gap. It's not HP and it's not Star Wars -- but there are significant numbers of fans and there's been a fair amount of press. For anyone familiar with HP, Robert Pattinson is salient for being the face of Cedric Diggory, and his face (albeit a ghoulish white) is plastered all over the Twilight posters. I've actually seen a fair amount of advertising (in malls; on a billboard) in the Los Angeles/Santa Monica area. Yes, there's still a bunch of people who don't know what Twilight is and don't care. But it's making waves, and while I'm not sure whether Twilight will blow anything out of the water, Summit Entertainment can probably count this movie a success. A former roommate of mine was an intern at Summit and she seemed to think they were enthused about Twilight's potential success.
  • Lady Aerin
    The Rotten Tomatoes reviews have been trickling in slowly; last I checked, it was at 47% with 15 reviews. It took them long enough to come in that I was starting to think it hadn't screened for critics; I've never seen a movie that didn't pre-screen with a Tomatometer of higher than 20%. Bolt is at 90% with 20 reviews in. I usually use RT to help figure out which movies I see on a given weekend (for example, I can't decide between Milk and Australia for next weekend, so I'll see whichever one is rated highest), so even if I hadn't already made up my mind about how I'm spending my Friday night, this would be a pretty easy decision. As I walked through Ontario Mills (LA metro area) yesterday, I counted about 20 posters around the mall for Bolt, plus the decals on the box office windows at the attached AMC which were specifically advertising the 3D presentation of the film. I saw precisely one Twilight poster outside the theatre, on the walk-up away from the mall, and that was it. Disney's marketing machine is, hands down, the most effective in the business. They own hundreds of television and radio stations all over the country where they can push their own releases, not to mention the tens of thousands of people every day who are a captive audience for Disney's advertising in their six US theme parks and five parks abroad. (Disney's started doing more and more advertising for their current movies in the parks; particularly at Disneyland where the latest release usually gets a pre-parade, which has been very popular.) Even when the quality of the films slipped, the studio has never lost the ability to make its films earn lots and lots of money. Box Office Mojo polled over 1,300 users asking their top choice for this weekend. The results: 30.1% Quantum of Solace 25.7% Twilight 15.4% Bolt 10.8% No interest this weekend. A different poll of nearly 1,800 users indicated that about 35% had no intention of seeing Twilight. Even if it outperforms Bolt, it's still not going to displace Bond. I'll be glad when Sunday rolls around, the numbers are in, and everyone except the die-hard fans and the studio will promptly forget the movie's existence. Hey, just like Serenity.
  • Mike
    Looks like you were right about the success of Twilight, however not so right about Summit's shake-up of Hollywood. Making smaller budget films in this town is more a result of the economy then it is Summit's business plan. It is good that there's a new player in the production/distribution game, however their other 8 films have been awful and unless they have a hit beyond Twilight, no one will ever take them seriously. I for one hope they revamp their marketing division and break away from all the teenage stuff. As you mentioned, youth is good, however saturation of youth is bad because the youth market is so wishy washy. In fact I gurantee in 10 years no one will even be talking about Twilight, primarily because the fan base has all grown up.

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