In the wake of its acquisition by Lionsgate, Summit Entertainment began layoffs early this week, as head of TV distribution Alex Fragen, home entertainment head Steve Nickerson and Bobby Gerber, EVP home entertainment sales, are on the way out, Variety has learned.
The trio of execs got the news midday Monday, sources close to the company said. They were expected to remain with the company until early next month.
Fragen, Nickerson and Gerber all started with Summit in 2007, just as the company was finding its footing as a full service production and distribution studio. The layoffs were just the first of several expected as Lionsgate begins to integrate its operations with Summit, which the mini-major acquired in a January cash-and-stock deal totaling $412.5 million.
Lionsgate co-chairman and CEO Jon Feltheimer acknowledged at the time that overlap would cause layoffs. A month later, Summit co-founder and president of international David Garrett began preparing his exit, as Variety first reported Feb. 12.
Lionsgate would not confirm the layoffs Monday. "The integration of Lionsgate and Summit is ongoing," a studio spokesman said. "We're not going to comment on specific individuals until our key management team is fully in place."
Fragen, who was well-liked at Summit and was responsible for its lucrative deal with HBO, was named president of domestic television distribution shortly after Summit relaunched itself in 2007. He was responsible for overseeing distribution for free and pay TV, video-on-demand, pay-per-view, and hotel and airline sales. His duties would ostensibly transfer to Jim Packer, Lionsgate's prexy of worldwide TV distribution and digital.
Nickerson, a consumer electronics and homevid vet, also came on at that time, and was tasked with establishing Summit's homevid arm with Gerber, who worked with Nickerson at Toshiba and Warner Bros. Nickerson came off eight years at Warners homevid at the time of his hire, including senior VP of worldwide high-definition media. Most of Summit's homevideo releases are distributed by Fox, a deal that's likely to sunset as Lionsgate's robust home video arm takes over Summit titles.
More shakeups and layoffs were expected at the newly merged companies. The departure of Garrett - a highly effective and much beloved foreign-sales maven based out of London - leaves a major h*** to fill for Lionsgate, which targeted Summit in part on the strength of its overseas sales division.