Colligan said that the appointment of Jim Gianopulos as studio chairman “marks a new moment.” Gianopulos led Fox’s film business for 16 years, and is known for his command of the global entertainment business.
“We are thrilled to have him leading the ship and taking us into the future,” Colligan said.
Paramount’s corporate parent Viacom was consumed in a battle for control that pitted former chairman Philippe Dauman against Shari Redstone, the daughter of company founder Sumner Redstone. Dauman was forced out last summer. Brad Grey, Paramount’s head for 12 years, later followed him to the exit door. He was undone by a string of money losers such as “Ben-Hur” and “Zoolander 2.”
“You may have read about Paramount a few times in the past year and to the press in the room, you’re welcome,” Colligan said.
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Over the next hour and change, Colligan and Motion Picture Group President Marc Evans took the crowd of theater owners through their upcoming releases. The knock on Paramount under Grey had been that the studio lacked high-power franchises. With the possible exception of “Transformers: The Last Knight,” it is true that the films the studio will be releasing this summer don’t smack of being global blockbusters. “Baywatch,” featuring Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron as hyper-competitive life guards, scored big laughs for its raunchy humor and particularly a scene that found Efron examining a dead man’s testicles in a morgue (don’t ask). It may be a box office success, but it won’t be the kind of cultural phenomenon that sells lunch boxes and inspires toylines. That’s what the Disneys of the world have, and what Paramount lacks.
The studio is stacked with awards contenders. “Suburbicon,” an upcoming crime comedy from George Clooney, features Matt Damon and Julianne Moore as happy homemakers who do some very bad and bloody things. It seemed Coen Brothers-esque, which is no surprise considering Joel and Ethan Coen co-wrote the script. Paramount also got a strong response for the ten minutes of footage it screened from “Downsizing,” an off-beat Alexander Payne comedy that featured Damon and Kristen Wiig as a middle class couple who shrink themselves.
Under newly appoint CEO Bob Bakish, Viacom has unveiled a strategy that it hopes will reinvigorate the flagging media conglomerate. It wants Paramount and such cable brands as Nickelodeon and MTV to cross-pollinate, creating films that can be turned into television shows, and shows that can inspire movies.
“Our partnership will enable our studio to deliver a diverse slate of films to better serve a global audience,” said Evans.
In a show of corporate harmony, Evans was joined on stage by Nickelodeon’s Consumer Products President and Chief Marketing Officer Pam Kaufman. With a data-heavy set of slides, she told the crowd of exhibitors that Nickelodeon was a brand like few others with shows like “Henry Danger” and “Game Shakers” that resonate with young children and teenagers.
“Honestly we reach everybody,” said Kaufman.
The first Paramount and Nickelodeon collaboration, “Amusement Park,” will hit theaters in 2018.
“The power of the brand will be used to drive audiences to your theaters to watch movies,” said Evans.
That’s what the theater owners care about, particularly if they buy some popcorn while they’re at the movies.