This story first appeared in the Dec. 14 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
When a receptionist at Summit Entertainment buzzed Nancy Kirkpatrick in summer 2011 to say there were three Twi-hards outside who wanted a tour of the studio, she chuckled. Summit's cozy office building in Santa Monica hardly resembles a storied Hollywood lot in size and scope.
But Kirkpatrick, the company's president of worldwide marketing, had something in her office that trumped any movie or television set: the Carolina Herrera wedding dress worn by Bella Swan, played by Kristen Stewart, in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn -- Part 1. She invited the trio in, and together they marveled over the gown, made of crepe satin and French Chantilly lace with 152 tiny buttons down the back. Kirkpatrick also let them try on the Manolo Blahnik wedding shoes.
"When do you ever get to do something like that at a studio? It was so much fun," says Kirkpatrick. "And these aren't 17-year-old girls, these are women. They'd driven all the way from Nebraska."
From the inception of the Twilight franchise, Kirkpatrick's mantra in selling the property was to speak to fans of Stephenie Meyer's blockbuster book series as if they were friends. The strategy paid off in an enormous victory for Kirkpatrick and Summit: The five Twilight films have grossed north of $3.1 billion at the global box office. That includes more than $600 million earned to date by the final installment, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn -- Part 2.
Thanks to the spoils of Twilight, Summit hardly resembles the company Kirkpatrick arrived at in 2007 from Paramount, where she was executive vp worldwide publicity.
A cash-flush Summit merged in January with Lionsgate, creating a formidable new force with more than $1 billion in domestic box-office revenue this year. Tim Palen continues to run marketing forLionsgate, while Kirkpatrick -- whose staff has grown from nine in the early days to 19 -- has dominion over Summit titles. (Kirkpatrick's success with Twilight no doubt influenced the marketing campaign for The Hunger Games, however.)
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