The start of Summit Entertainment’s trajectory began when the mini-major convinced Stephenie Meyer to sell her Twilight Saga book series after she’d been left so frustrated by how Paramount Pictures let it languish. Was it a billion dollar lucky break? As the vampire-werewolf series that fueled Summit’s recent $750 million refinancing comes to a close, Summit has bet heavily on books for its future franchises. Under production chief Erik Feig, Summit has been as prolific a buyer of books as any studio in town over the past two years. Most are conducive to young casts.
As Deadline predicted, Summit Entertainment has closed a screen rights deal for Veronica Roth’s young adult novel Divergent, which will be published by the HarperCollins imprint Katherine Tegen Books. It takes place in a futuristic dystopia where society is divided into factions as kids are categorized based on human traits. A teenage girl and guy rebel against the labels, which is a very dangerous thing to do. The buying community has compared it to The Hunger Games in tone and violent content. Red Wagon’s Doug Wick and Lucy Fisher will produce with Pouya Shahbazian. The latter works for FinePrint Productions and stirred up some dust in the early deal brokering with what I’m told were high demands like 35% of the fee from whatever established producer came onto the picture, even though the book fell into his lap because of a predecessor’s relationship with the lit agent. It prompted CAA–which was repping Wick and Fisher–to withdraw from repping Shahbazian. Those problems were hurdled. and most important to Summit, it has another franchise play.
Beyond Divergent, Summit has recently made splashy deals for: the Daniel H. Wilson science fiction novel Amp, which Doubleday publishes May, 2012, and which has Alex Proyas attached to direct; Night Circus, the Erin Morgenstern novel about 19th Century teenage illusionists who are bred to battle but instead fall in love, with Doubleday publishing in September; Tempest, a Julie Cross novel about a 19-year old female time traveler, the first of a trilogy which St. Martin’s Press publishes next January; the Frankenstein origin story This Dark Endeavor: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein by Kenneth Oppel, which has Twilight Saga producer Karen Rosenfelt aboard and Simon & Schuster publishing in August; Warm Bodies, the Isaac Marion tale which Atria publishes in April and for which Summit has landed X-Men: First Class’s Nicholas Hoult to star in the zombie tale.
As for books that have been published, Summit is developing the Gayle Foreman novel If I Stay; Immortals; Amy Sutherland book series Kicked, Bitten and Scratched; the John Gray bestseller Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, which has Harry Elfont and Deborah Kaplan writing and directing; the Robert Ludlum thriller Osterman Weekend, which is being scripted by Jesse Wigutow, the Stephen Chbosky novel The Perks of Being A Wallflower which the author is adapting for Harry Potter‘s Emma Watson and Legan Lerman; and William Kalush and Larry Sloman’s The Secret Life of Houdini. Summit also scored with the Warren Ellis/Cully Hammer DC Comics/Wildstorm graphic novel Red, which is already being developed for a sequel after the first film grossed $185 million worldwide. That was another property that kicked around Hollywood before Summit adopted the orphaned property about AARP-aged assassins.