Viacom Confirms Paramount’s China Slate Financing Deal ‘Moving Forward’

Paramount Pictures‘ $1 billion slate deal with two Chinese media companies is back on track after nearly being derailed earlier this year, Viacom executives told analysts and investors on Thursday.

On an earnings call, Viacom CEO Bob Bakish said the financing was “moving forward,” while Viacom CFO Wade Davis said that Shanghai Film Group and Huahua Media have increased their financial commitment. Instead of funding a planned 25% of the studio’s entire film slate for the next three years, they will back 30% of the lineup.

“The slate financing agreement remains on track and is in operation,” said Davis.

The pact is for three years with an option for a fourth year. It begins in the company’s fiscal 2017.

Variety reported last month that Paramount’s new chairman and CEO Jim Gianopulos recently traveled to Beijing to resurrect the deal with Shanghai Film Group and Huahua Media. Apparently his entreaties were successful.

The Chinese financing deal was first announced in January, but it hit a roadblock in March as China continued to apply greater scrutiny to overseas investments. Shanghai Film Group remains majority state-owned. The Chinese government has been curbing overseas investments in certain sectors as it looks to bolster its currency. Huahua Media has significant operations offshore, and was able to provide its share of the payments under the agreement, but Shanghai Film Group struggled to deliver the capital.

On Thursday, Davis downplayed reports that the deal was in jeopardy.

“We never really had concern about payments,” said Davis. “There’s a payment schedule in the agreement. We received cash this quater per the schedule that was always in the agreement.”

In addition to Paramount, Viacom’s portfolio of media brands includes MTV, Nickelodeon, and Comedy Central. It was a rough quarter for the company. Profit at Viacom fell 60% after the company reported $280 million in restructuring charges and was forced to contend with a drop in advertising revenue. Revenue for the period increased 8% to $3.26 billion.

The deal with the Chinese investors was originally brokered by Brad Grey, who was then Paramount’s chairman and CEO. Grey departed in February, leaving a question as to whether the companies would choose to stay in the deal under Paramount’s new leadership.

Gianopulos was hired in March and has been tasked with reviving the studio’s creative culture and financial underpinnings after a wave of film flops such as “Ghost in the Shell,” “Zoolander 2,” and “Ben-Hur” have rattled investors’ confidence.  He previously oversaw Fox’s film operations, where he was known for his deep knowledge of international finance.

In an interview with Variety last month, Viacom Vice-Chairwoman Shari Redstone praised Gianopulos’ hire, saying, “Jim is going to be a great leader in working with the creative community and in working with Paramount to bring us back to where we deserve to be and will be.”

More Film

  • The Lion King

    Film News Roundup: PETA Sponsors Rescued Lion in Jon Favreau's Name

    In today’s film news roundup, PETA honors Jon Favreau for “The Lion King,” “Tigers Are Not Afraid” gets a theatrical release, a Kirk Franklin biopic is in development and “The Sixth Sense” gets an anniversary showing in Philadelphia. HONOR The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is sponsoring a rescued lion to honor director [...]

  • Tokyo Director-in-Focus-at-Japan-Now

    Nobuhiko Obayashi set as Japanese Director in Focus at Tokyo Film Festival

    Indie director, Nobuhiko Obayashi will be feted as the director in focus at the Japan Now section of this year’s Tokyo International Film Festival. The festival will give a world premiere to his “Labyrinth of Cinema.” Supporting his art by shooting commercials, Obayashi is an indie whose dreamy works have influenced numerous other directors in [...]

  • Jimmi Simpson Joins Russell Crowe Movie

    Jimmi Simpson Joins Russell Crowe Thriller 'Unhinged' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Jimmi Simpson will play a key role in “Unhinged,” Variety has learned. He joins an impressive cast that includes Oscar-winner Russell Crowe and Caren Pistorius. Solstice Studios is producing the psychological thriller, which is currently filming in New Orleans. “Unhinged” centers on a woman named Rachel (Pistorius), who leans on her horn at the wrong [...]

  • David Crosby

    David Crosby Says New Documentary 'Remember My Name' Is Like 'Being Naked in Public’

    “It’s not easy. It’s hard being naked in public,” David Crosby, the legendary troubadour of classic rock, reflected at Tuesday night’s New York City premiere of “David Crosby: Remember My Name.” “I don’t know what to do here. There’s no guitars, no drums,” he laughed. Directed by newcomer A.J. Eaton and produced by the legendary [...]

  • Javier Bardem Dune

    Javier Bardem in Talks to Play King Triton in Disney's 'Little Mermaid'

    Javier Bardem is in talks to play King Triton in Disney’s live-action remake of “The Little Mermaid.” Halle Bailey will portray the Ariel, a mermaid princess who dreams of being a human, while Melissa McCarthy is playing her evil aunt Ursula. Harry Styles is also in early talks to play Prince Eric. “The Little Mermaid” [...]

  • UglyDolls

    STX Tries to Put Flops Behind It as It Searches for Star Executive, Fresh Capital

    After a series of film flops and an aborted initial public offering, STX Entertainment is battling mounting skepticism that it can survive in an increasingly unforgiving movie business. As it hustles to find $500 million in fresh capital, the company, which operates in the red according to financial disclosures, is simultaneously hoping to attract a [...]

  • Ryan Simpkins

    Ryan Simpkins Joins Fox-Disney's 'Fear Street' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Ryan Simpkins has joined Fox-Disney’s second installment of 20th Century Fox and Chernin Entertainment’s “Fear Street” trilogy, based on the novels by R.L. Stine. Leigh Janiak is helming all three films. Previously announced cast includes Gillian Jacobs, Sadie Sink, Emily Rudd, McCabe Slye, Kiana Madeira, Olivia Welch, Benjamin Flores Jr., Ashley Zukerman, Fred Hechinger, Julia [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content