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Paramount’s Jim Gianopulos: ‘Diversity Is Good Business’

Paramount Studios chairman Jim Gianopulos wants producers to know that his studio is committed to diversity.

“Women are half our audience,” he said Saturday at the opening of the Produced By conference on the Paramount lot. “Diversity is the right thing to do and it’s the audience that’s out there. It’s good business.”

Gianopulos, the former head of 20th Century Fox’s film studio, credited such execs as Liz Raposo with providing the needed perspective to keep Paramount in tune with audiences. He took the post last year and is seeing some significant success from “A Quiet Place,” the low-budget thriller has grossed $330 million worldwide, and from the modestly budgeted “Book Club,” which has hit $54 million domestically.

Both films were able to expand well beyond their core audiences, he noted, and credited “A Quiet Place” director-actor John Krasinski with making a relatable film about families, rather than a simple alien-invasion movie.

“You don’t do $330 million worldwide from a genre film,” Gianopulos said. “It seemed like an original, unique idea. And there was an $18 million negative cost. As we saw dailies, it was obvious that this was something special.”

The studio chief admitted Saturday that he’d received other offers after leaving Fox but opted to go with Paramount due to its strong history.

“The legacy of this place is extraordinary,” he added. “It’s impossible to recreate that. It was an opportunity to be part of a renaissance.”

Gianopulos appeared with “Fast and Furious” producer Neal Moritz in a far-ranging 75-minute conversation at the Paramount Theatre as one of the opening events at the Producers Guild of America’s two-day conference.

Moritz is in production on a animated/live-action “Sonic the Hedgehog” movie for Paramount, directed by Jeff Fowler. Gianaopulos and Moritz credited Fowler with offering a compelling vision for the film.

“You realize that Sonic is a quasi juvenile delinquent and you could obviously see where it was going,” Gianopulos said.

“There’s nothing better for me than a director with an incredible vision. I thirst for that,” Moritz added.

Moritz also said he was struck by how similar the moviemaking process has remained over the past five decades.

“Movies today can’t be made any faster than they were 50 years ago,” he observed. “It’s still a handmade business.”

The producer also said he was proudest of being able to complete “Furious 7” after Paul Walker’s death in 2013. He recalled being thanked by fans at a test screening.

“I had not realized the power of the movies until then,” he said. “It was by far the greatest achievement of my career.”

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