Brad Grey is officially out as chairman and CEO of Paramount Pictures after 12 rocky years at the helm of the studio. He will be replaced on an interim basis by a committee of executives that will include Andrew Gumpert, the Sony alum who joined Paramount as chief operating officer in November; Megan Colligan, president of distribution and marketing; Marc Evans, president of the motion picture group; Mark Badagliacca, chief financial officer, and Amy Powell, president of TV and digital.
Paramount’s corporate parent, Viacom, has already begun reaching out to potential replacements for Grey.
Grey wrote an email to staff announcing his exit, saying that he is handing over the bulk of his duties on Wednesday, but will remain engaged with the transition.
“From the moment I came to Paramount in 2005, I saw myself as a steward of an iconic institution,” Grey wrote. “I never could have dreamed that privilege would last more than 12 years. In that time, it has been my honor to work with a group of wildly talented storytellers. The core of our successes has always been their unique ability to entertain and inspire people around the world. “
News of Grey’s ouster leaked late last week, but the executive was under contract through 2020 and had to negotiate his exit package.
On his watch, Paramount succeeded with tentpole franchises including “Transformers,” “Star Trek” and “Mission: Impossible,” but suffered costly misses with a string of flops including “Ben-Hur,” “Allied,” “Zoolander 2,” “Monster Trucks” and “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.” Paramount’s film output has shrunk dramatically in the past five years, and the studio posted a loss of $180 million during the most recent fiscal quarter and red ink of about $450 million for Viacom’s 2016 fiscal year.
Grey succeeded Sherry Lansing as the leader of Paramount in 2005. He came to the Melrose lot after a long and successful partnership in talent management with the late Bernie Brillstein, which turned their Brillstein-Grey Entertainment into the industry’s top management-production company.
Paramount’s fortunes have fallen along with those of Viacom. The media conglomerate suffered through a bruising fight for corporate control that pitted former Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman and Shari Redstone, daughter of Viacom controlling shareholder Sumner Redstone. It was a battle Dauman, an ally of Grey, lost, but one that saw Viacom’s stock swoon as a result.
In a statement, Bob Bakish, the newly minted Viacom CEO, said, “Brad has overseen the production and distribution of some of Paramount’s most celebrated hits, and more recently championed the successful relaunch of the studio’s television division.”
Bakish sees Paramount playing a central role in Viacom’s revival. He outlined a plan earlier this month that will see the studio collaborating on one to two movies a year from Viacom cable properties such as MTV and Comedy Central. In turn, Paramount will create content that can inspire television programming.
Here’s the full text of Grey’s staff-wide memo:
I am writing to let you know that I am leaving Paramount. I will hand over most of my duties effective today, but will remain engaged in the coming weeks to support a smooth transition.
It has been my privilege to be a part of Paramount’s storied history, and I am grateful to Sumner Redstone for giving me this opportunity. I want to wish Shari, Bob and their entire team the best as they embark on Viacom’s next chapter.
From the moment I came to Paramount in 2005, I saw myself as a steward of an iconic institution. I never could have dreamed that privilege would last more than 12 years.
In that time, it has been my honor to work with a group of wildly talented storytellers. The core of our successes has always been their unique ability to entertain and inspire people around the world.
Above all, I am indebted to all of you, the wonderful people here at Paramount. Your creativity, professionalism and integrity are second to none. I am grateful to everyone who helped me along the way and I look forward to new adventures.