'Road' test ahead for consolidated operation

Since this summer, Paramount Vantage no longer has been a separate studio division, complete with its own marketing and distribution capabilities. Rather, it is now a label within the Par fold. Vantage had several high-profile successes that drew kudos and critical acclaim, including Daniel Day-Lewis starrer “There Will Be Blood.” Vantage shared the pic with Miramax, just as they split rights on Oscar picture winner “No Country for Old Men.”

Part of the rationale behind bringing Vantage and sublabel Paramount Classics under the big Par umbrella has to do with the promotion of former Vantage prexy John Lesher to studio co-chair, overseeing production.

But Vantage also was accused of lavish spending, which in turn hurt the bottom line. While execs claimed fiscal responsibility by co-financing films with partners, it’s the marketing that got expensive.

There’s no doubt the consolidation is now saving on overhead, with the elimination of the unit’s marketing and distribution staffs, among others. Upward of 60 employees were pinkslipped over the summer.

In addition to Lesher moving to the big studio, Vantage marketing and publicity co-topper Megan Colligan was made Par’s co-prexy of marketing. Previously a PR exec at Fox Searchlight, Colligan’s forte is guiding specialty film.

Still, many question whether a big studio has the time to shepherd specialty titles when the manpower is likely to be focused on the commercial titles that bring boffo grosses.

One thing is clear: This fall will prove a critical test as big Par takes control of Vantage titles, including DreamWorks and Vantage’s “Revolutionary Road,” which reteams Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio for the first time since “Titanic.”

B.O. CUME: $98 million

TOP PIC: “There Will Be Blood,” $40 million

TOPPERS: Nick Meyer, prexy; Guy Stodel, exec VP, production and acquisitions

UP NEXT:

“The Duchess” (Sept. 19)

“Defiance” (Dec. 12)

“Revolutionary Road” (Dec. 26)

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