Indie movie studio Summit Entertainment is up for sale, but the sale itself probably won't go through until some time in 2012.
Now I think I should start with a little history to flesh out the story, before I get to the issue at hand.
Summit Entertainment started in 1991 primarily to handle sales of film rights to foreign markets for a partnership of independent producers. As the 1990s progressed, the company's mission expanded into co-producing movies, and finally evolving into the independent producer and distributor we all know today.
It's first few years were iffy, suffering a series of box office bombs but kept afloat by its position handling the foreign language release for the lucrative first American Pie movie.
Summit Entertainment finally achieved real mega money success in 2008 with the Twilight franchise. The films, based on the epic book trilogy about a moody teenage girl torn between choosing to lose her virginity to necrophilia or bestiality raked in huge heaping piles of money from other moody teenage girls all over the world.
Lionsgate first started sniffing around Summit as a possible buyer around this time, but the deal was never consummated.
Now Lionsgate is back looking to climb the Summit, but this time it has competition with a bid from hedge fund Colony Capital.
So let's look at what both company's probably want from this deal, and what they will most likely do with the company...
Lionsgate is already the biggest independent movie distributor in North America. So it doesn't need Summit's distribution capabilities. What it most likely wants is to have the lucrative Twilight movies in their library.
Now let's look at the other suitor...
Colony Capital has been investing heavily in the independent movie business, and are co-owners of the once venerable Miramax company.
Now there are two possible scenarios behind their purchase of Summit.
#1. In keeping with the way they're running Miramax, they are simply looking to beef up their film library, primarily with the Twilight movie franchise, and all the moody teenage girl money it can bring in. Summit's other films are just extras because, let's be honest here, the company hasn't exactly peaked with their non-Twilight movies.
#2. Colony Capital is looking to set up their own distribution for Miramax, and revive it as viable and functioning independent movie studio that produces and releases new films instead of just trying to coast on what others have made before them.
Personally, I hope that scenario #2 is what Colony Capital is looking for. Because while the domestic box office is at a 16 year low, that low is primarily caused by massive gaps in the market caused by the inattentive, narrow minded, major studios. There is room for an enterprising, lean and efficient movie company to step in and fill those gaps.
When the bidding starts afresh in the New Year, I hope the best bidder with the best plan wins.