Paramount Pictures is arguably the world's oldest surviving movie studio, tracing its lineage back to 1912. It now forms the core of the Filmed Entertainment division within media group Viacom. Although a giant of the movie industry from the 1970s to the 1990s with films including the Godfather, Star Trek and Indiana Jones series and box-office champion Titanic, Paramount scaled down its operations in the early 2000s. As a result, however, the studio came close to falling off the Hollywood map. A return to big-budget blockbusters has paid a few dividends since 2007: Paramount was re-established as the #1 studio that year for the first time in decades. Much of the credit for that achievement was due to an alliance with the DreamWorks studio, acquired in 2005. However that partnership proved fractious. Several key figures, including director Steven Spielberg, left the company at the end of 2008. The subsequent termination of a separate relationship with DreamWorks Animation has prompted a prolonged slump in box office performance since 2012, occasionally interrupted by episodes of the still-popular Transformers franchise. Paramount has been the smallest of the big six studios every year since then. Transformers: The Last Night was its only film among the Top 25 releases both in the US and worldwide in 2017. Long-serving CEO Brad Grey was ousted that year, but his successor Jim Gianopoulos has yet to achieve a lasting turnaround. Mission Impossible: Fallout and A Quiet Place were big hits in 2018, but not big enough to lift Paramount above its perennial 6th place among the studios by total box office. The studio also has a small but successful television production division, and lends its name to several cable strands owned separately by Viacom. Divisional revenues for ye 2017 were $3.2bn, but the business reported a second consecutive annual loss.
Capsule checked 5th October 2018
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Adbrands Weekly Update 18th May 2017: Brad Grey, chairman & CEO of Paramount Pictures for 12 years until his forced resignation only three months ago, has died at the age of just 59. According to his family the cause was cancer. Before his appointment at Paramount, Grey had enjoyed considerable success as a producer in TV, most notably with the Larry Sanders Show and The Sopranos. Though there were early successes at Paramount, such as the hugely successful Transformers series and Mission: Impossible, the studio has in recent years been struggling as a result of a series of box office flops. Yet Grey had managed to retain the support of Sumner Redstone, controlling shareholder of Paramount parent Viacom. That support began to waver with Redstone's increasing mental incapacitation, and the growing influence of his daughter Shari Redstone.
Adbrands Weekly Update 13th Apr 2017: There's no respite yet for ailing Paramount Pictures. Futureshock thriller The Ghost In The Shell looks certain to become its latest flop despite the presence of Scarlett Johansen in the lead role. Trade source Deadline predicts a loss of at least $60m on the project, which is thought to have cost over $250m to make and market, possibly much more. So far it has taken in only a little over $32m in the US, though international has been stronger, making a combined total so far of $129m.
Adbrands Weekly Update 30th Mar 2017: Viacom picked former 20th Century Fox chief Jim Gianopoulos to lead its ailing Paramount Pictures movie division. At Fox, Gianopoulos oversaw huge hits including Avatar, Deadpool and the X-Men series. He is tasked with reviving a studio which has enjoyed critical praise for recent releases like Arrival and Fences, but a string of commercial flops. It has been the bottom-ranked major studio by US box office for the past five years, and filed a net loss of $445m for 2016. Its last major hit was Transformers:Dark of the Moon in 2011. Since then, out of 40 movies to have exceeded a gross of $250m at the US box office, not one has been from Paramount, and only six of its releases exceeded $100m.
Adbrands Weekly Update 23rd Feb 2017: The latest shakeup at Viacom appears to be the possible departure of Paramount CEO Brad Grey who has led the fabled movie studio since 2005, despite a run of recent flops including Monster Trucks, Ben Hur and Zoolander 2. Grey was a close confidante of Viacom's former CEO Philippe Daumann and ailing patriarch Sumner Redstone, but has failed to consolidate his position with new CEO Robert Bakish and current controlling shareholder Shari Redstone. His exit was widely rumoured but has yet to be confirmed.
Adbrands Weekly Update 1st Sep 2016: Latest development in the Viacom soap opera is that Paramount Pictures chief Brad Grey appears to have survived the axe. He was called before the struggling media group's new board of directors to explain the studio's run of box office disappointments. Ousted Viacom CEO Philippe Daumann had been proposing to sell a stake of as much of 49% in Paramount to outside investors, possibly from China. That plan, which was apparently opposed by controlling shareholder Sumner Redstone and his daughter, vice chair Shari Redstone, looks like it will not be green-lit, though Daumann will still get a chance to argue his case before his departure mid-September. In a joint statement, the Viacom board said they "remain fully supportive of Brad and his leadership of the studio. Under Brad’s leadership, Paramount has taken significant, successful steps to broaden and strengthen its business, and we are confident that Brad and his team have the skills, relationships and resources necessary to return Paramount to success in its movie business and continue its rapid growth in television." Grey, who has run Paramount for the past 11 years, is moving the studio aggressively into television, with 15 shows currently in production.
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