Ernst & Young Award for Robert Friedman

Robert Friedman, co-chairman, CEO, Summit Entertainment, was named the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year 2010 national winner in the Media, Entertainment and Communications category.

Now in its 24th year, Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur Of The Year is among the world’s most prestigious business awards for entrepreneurs.

The award encourages entrepreneurial activity and recognizes leaders and visionaries who demonstrate innovation, financial success and personal commitment as they create and build world-class businesses.

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Friedman was recognized for establishing Summit Entertainment LLC as a worldwide theatrical motion picture development, financing, production and distribution studio.

Friedman was honored at the Entrepreneur Of The Year gala, the culminating event of the Ernst & Young Strategic Growth Forum in Palm Springs.

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The Forum is a premier gathering of high-growth, market-leading companies. Awards were given in nine additional categories. All Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year winners were selected by an independent panel of judges from approximately 300 regional award recipients.

“Summit Entertainment’s success can be attributed, in part, to the environment created by Robert Friedman, which encourages employees to explore creative ideas without fear of failure,” said Bryan Pearce, Americas director, Entrepreneur Of The Year, Ernst & Young LLP.

“Friedman has also put into place a well-managed system that enables the ideas to be vetted and pursued, which is critical for entrepreneurial success. As a result, he has significantly grown the business and filled a gap in the motion picture market with a more efficient and cost-effective model.”

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Working from the time he was young and with no formal degree, Friedman rose from the mailroom at Warner Brothers to vice chairman, COO of Paramount Pictures.

In 2005, in the midst of a down year for the box office, he made the decision to step down at Paramount and take a calculated risk.

Friedman saw an opportunity to create a different kind of studio – one made for the future that would work with changing markets, run on lower overhead and capitalize on emerging technology.

In December 2006, before the deal was finalized, discussions began around developing a film based on the Twilight novels. At the time, fewer than 15,000 copies had been sold, but Friedman and his team took a chance on what has turned out to be a worldwide phenomenon.

Moreover, principal photography has just begun in New York City on the Summit Entertainment feature Man On A Ledge. (Read: Suspense Thriller Man On A Ledge Goes Rolling)

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In just three years under Friedman’s leadership, Summit Entertainment has grown into one of the most successful film franchises in the business with the Twilight series and the Oscar-winning Hurt Locker, competing with the major studios that have dominated the market for decades.

With the studio clearly established, Friedman is now looking to extend Summit’s platform to include media beyond film, such as television and emerging forms of entertainment.

The award was announced Sunday, Nov. 14.

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Rakesh Raman