Paramount’s Adam Goodman Touts Value of Theatrical Experience

Prexy appears for keynote conversation at Variety Entertainment & Technology Summit

Paramount Film Group President Adam Goodman wants to protect the sanctity of the moviegoing experience even as the studio stays open to all the other opportunities technology provides.

Goodman addressed the myriad issues new media poses in a Q&A Monday at the Variety Entertainment Technology Summit in Los Angeles with Variety’s senior features editor David Cohen.

With an increasing amount of Paramount’s movies taking advantage of 3D and other innovations in display on the silver screen, he sees theaters  continuing to be the first driver of content across the various windows.

“Frankly, I don’t really want to spend years of my life working on something to be able to watch it while I’m standing at a bus stop,” said Goodman. “When we first step out to do something, we want it to be presented in the best way it should be presented.”

Goodman cited the introduction of the Paramount InSurge division, which focuses on creating movies targeting distinct audience segments on budgets a fraction of the blockbusters the studio traditionally produces, as something best viewed in theaters as a communal experience with friends.

“You have to see it on the bigscreen,” he said of the social appeal of films from InSurge. “You don’t just want to steal that in a dorm room.”

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While Paramount takes a close read of audience segments to figure out what movies come out of InSurge, Goodman believes there are limits to how a studio can leverage so called “big data” to identify programming opportunities considering the long lag time from greenlight to release in the movie world.

Consequently, content decisions have to be driven more by a gut sense of figuring out how audiences are best served. “We talk about what’s not out there,” said Goodman. “Those are the things that we run fastest too.”

There’s plenty of technology that excites Goodman in terms of innovating the filmmaking process, from pre-visualization to distribution. He has particular interest in the kind of first-person perspective a certain buzzed-about form of eyewear being manufactured at Google has in store for cinema.

Said Goodman, “I want to see the first Google Glass movie.”

Later in the day at conference, Goodman’s defense of the theatrical experience was echoed on a panel about “zeitgeist storytelling” featuring directors Jon M. Chu (G.I. Joe: Retaliation”) and Joseph Kosinski (“Oblivion”).

For Kosinski, the primary challenge of filmmaking is coming up with concepts that encourage consumers to sidestep cost barriers like parking and concessions enough to want to come to theaters. “That means coming up with stories and ideas that will draw people out,” he said. “That means big stories, big ideas, big spectacle.”

For Chu, the lures of personal viewing and theatrical viewing don’t need to be at odds; they can be harmonized. He threw out an example of tossing content to consumers’ mobile devices at the close of a movie that allows the narrative experience to continue on their way out of theaters. “I like to guide someone in the dark,” he said, “but you can use a second screen to continue that storytelling thrust.



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