Grey, who has been in charge of Paramount for a decade, has vowed to step up production and improve the performance of the studio, which has lagged behind its rivals in market share over the last three years as it has slashed costs and reduced the amount of movies it releases to save money.
Paramount has released the fewest number of titles among the six major studios with only 10 so far this year — and no films at all during the second quarter — and currently ranks fifth in domestic box office with $563 million, trailing Universal, Disney, Warner Bros. and Fox.
“Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” is its top performer at $194 million.
Grey, 57, has said he wants to bolster the Paramount slate by increasing the number of releases to 15 and focusing on its franchises, which in addition to “Mission Impossible,” include “Star Trek,” “Transformers,” “GI Joe,” “SpongeBob Squarepants” and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.” Earlier this year, he replaced studio president Adam Goodman with Marc Evans in hopes of reinvigorating the studio’s slate.
Grey’s contract extension, signed several months ago, comes at time when Viacom’s other business units — including its cable channels MTV, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central — are also struggling, and the health of its 92-year-old chairman Sumner Redstone is raising serious questions about the media conglomerate’s fate and future leadership. Shares have fallen 37% this year amid a 14% decline in TV ratings, the departures of Jon Stewart from “The Daily Show” and Steven Colbert from “The Colbert Report,” and the lack of a breakout hit movie.
Despite the struggles and Wall Street’s concerns, Grey has managed to maintain strong ties to Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman and Redstone, and has cultivated relationships with top talent such as JJ Abrams, Michael Bay, Jerry Bruckheimer, Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Mary Parent and Martin Scorsese along with David Ellison, who runs the studio’s co-financing partner Skydance.
Two years ago, Paramount also returned to active TV development and production under Amy Powell.