SummitEntertainment has secured a new product line through an agreement reached withCary Granat's Walden Media, one of two film production companies backed byPhillip Anschutz, the Denver-based billionaire who now also controls a sixth ofAmerica's movie theatres.
Summit willoffer Walden's first two films: the large-screen 3-D documentaryGhosts Of The Abyssfrom director James Cameron and Andrew Davis' Holes, an adaptation of the teenage novel byLouis Sachar, which won the Newberry Medal and the National Book Award in 1999.
Summit, run byPatrick Wachsberger and Bob Heyward, is also financing a UK comedy called DotThe I, which isavailable at AFM. Written and directed by Matthew Parkhill, it stars Gael GarciaBernal (Y Tu Mama Tambien, Amores Perros) and Natalia Verbeke (Son Of The Bride).
Parkhill, whowrote the novel And I Loved Them Madly, is making his directorial debut on the picture which starsVerbeke as a Spanish woman who comes to London to escape her past and getmarried, but who falls for the young Bernal. Summit's London-based executivevice president David Garrett identified and brought in the project to thecompany.
Wachsberger'srelationship with Walden follows a similar path to the one that has seen himsourcing finance and partners for other big-time producers such as Andy Vajna,Peter Guber, Alcon Pictures and Artisan Entertainment. Granat set the companyup last year with Anschutz's backing as a venture which would produce filmswith a scholastic bent and multimedia applications. Among its projects is anadaptation of CS Lewis' Nadia Chronicles.
Ghosts Of TheAbyss, for example, towhich Cameron has been devoted for the last two years, is a 45-minute 3-Dlarge-screen film that can play on IMAX screens throughout the world, but isalso available as a 90 minute DVD/VHS product and a six hour TV series. In thefilm, Cameron himself and Titanic star Bill Paxton take a journey to the wreckage of the Titanic.
Holes which is a Walden co-production withMike Medavoy and Arnie Messer's Phoenix Pictures, tells the story of a wronglyaccused boy sent to a juvenile detention centre where he is tormented by afemale warden who forces him to dig holes in the desert. Director Davis'previous credits include The Fugitive, Chain Reaction and the recent Collateral Damage.
Meanwhile, a major buzz title that has French buyers losing sleepafter Berlin is Summit Entertainment's Insomnia, a remake of the Norwegian film. Word among Frenchmarket-goers arriving in Los Angeles over the weekend was that the film wouldbe the hotly disputed title forthat territory's distributors. "All the big companies are onit," says one executive vying for the picture.
Summit chief PatrickWachsberger confirmed that a French sale will be completed by the end of the AmericanFilm Market, which officially opens for business today in Santa Monica.
Al Pacino, Robin Williams and Hilary Swank star in ChristopherNolan's hotly-awaited follow-up to Memento, which was handled in France by UFD.
Pacino is a detective withinsomnia tracking a killer in Alaska. The film is produced by AlconEntertainment, Witt-Thomas Films and George Clooney and StevenSoderbergh's Section 8 Films. Warner Bros will release the film in NorthAmerica. UFD handled Memento inFrance in 2001.