Jim Gianopulos wants theater owners to know that it’s a new day at Paramount. The newly minted studio chairman inherited a company that had been weighed down by flops such as “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows,” “Downsizing,” and “Suburbicon.”
“It’s no secret we’ve had some difficult years at the box office,” Gianopulos said at the exhibition industry confab CinemaCon. He then pivoted to a larger argument that in his first months on the job, he’d begun to assemble the creative and business team necessary to turn things around.
“We’re laying the foundation…to deliver to you films for every possible audience for years to come,” he said.
Gianopulos, the former head of 20th Century Fox’s film studio, is also benefiting from some lucky timing. “A Quiet Place,” the low-budget thriller that his predecessor Brad Grey greenlit, has been a box office force, earning $135 million domestically. A sequel is already in the works.
Of course, a studio of the size and scope of Paramount needs more than one franchise in order to remain relevant at a time when Disney, Universal, and Warner Bros. have vacuumed up a lot of compelling comic book series, animated hits, and science-fiction adventures.
Gianopulos predicted that his core group of newly appointed executives will be able to restock Paramount’s cupboards. He’s tapped former Awesomeness TV CEO Brian Robbins to run a new division, producing films derived from the Viacom brands such as Nickelodeon, MTV, BET, and Comedy Central.
Gianopulos said the films from this unit “give voice to and reflect the stories of this audience.”
The studio has also tapped “Twilight” producer Wyck Godfrey to help revitalize Paramount’s production operations, as well as signed production deals with Hasbro, Tyler Perry, and others. The Hasbro pact will lead to new G.I. Joe, Micronauts, and Dungeons & Dragons movies.
Turnarounds typically take several years, but Gianopulos predicted that “A Quiet Place” will mark a new day and phase for Paramount. To that end, the studio highlighted a number of upcoming releases such as “Bumblebee,” “Book Club,” and “What Men Want.”
If Gianopulos can’t breathe new life into Paramount, he could give acting a try. Before taking the stage, he appeared in an extended video that found him begging a dim-witted airline employee to get him on a flight to Vegas (he good-naturedly let her compare him to a mob boss and bridge troll). There was also a dream sequence in which Gianopulos was spliced into “Titanic,” failing to hold on to Rose before she plunged into the icy waters of the Atlantic.
On a corporate level, at a time when the movie business is being upended by new streaming services and declining attendance, there are plenty of icebergs for Gianopulos to avoid.