EXCLUSIVE: Despite his entry into corporate America in the wake of the Lionsgate-Summit merger, Patrick Wachsberger has been ensconced in his office on the Croisette, in the thick of the market as usual.
“I really enjoy the sales process and this is something I don’t want to let go,” the recently anointed co-chairman of Lionsgate Motion Picture Group said, talking exclusively to Screen.
“In the process of making the decision of what movies to make and not make, our business plan has been to rely on the international market and pre-sales to help our downside. We are not changing the model.”
Wachsberger now presides over a significantly enhanced slate alongside Lionsgate president of international sales Helen Lee Kim. He declines to go into specifics about Kim’s rumoured departure later this year. “There’s no specific timetable. She’s under contract. I think she’s fantastic and as far as I am concerned I’m not looking forward to seeing her go.”
He declares himself thrilled with the team of evp of international sales Anne-Marie Ross, svp of international sales Crystal Bourbeau and Wendy Reeds, head of sales for the Asia-based Celestial Tiger joint venture with Celestial Pictures and Tiger Gate shareholders Saban Capital Group.
“We are working actively now on Catching Fire and we have a release date and production slot and cast and we are getting very close on the screenplay.” Will the Hunger Games finale Mockingjay be split into two films a la Breaking Dawn? “There is a possibility,” he says.
Production will commence shortly on Summit’s Red 2 and Pompeii and Tarzan are in the pipeline. Wachsberger is bullish about Summit and draws a comparison to the survival of Mandate after that company was absorbed by Lionsgate. “Summit is a brand,” he says. “We have created a brand and a good one, so I don’t see [the merger] interfering.”
Summit International’s output deals will endure through their terms and beyond that, Wachsberger and his distribution partners will review.
Many of those territories were presided over by Wachsberger’s longtime associate David Garrett, who left after the merger to launch Mister Smith. “I love David. I have been working with him since 1992 and he is my close friend and we wish him every success.”