Brian Robbins to Become Chairman and CEO of Paramount Pictures

Brian Robbins, President, Paramount Players, Paramount
Dan Doperalski/Variety

Nickelodeon head Brian Robbins is slated to become the next chairman and CEO of Paramount Pictures, people familiar with the matter have confirmed to Variety.

Robbins, who currently oversees Nickelodeon, has seen his responsibilities expand since re-joining parent company ViacomCBS in 2018. and has established a reputation as one of the industry’s key purveyors of content aimed at teens and younger viewers. He also serves as the chief content officer of kids and family for Paramount Plus, the streaming service launched this year by ViacomCBS.

He will take the reins from Jim Gianopulos, a respected film veteran who took over the studio in 2017 after a long stint at 20th Century Fox. Paramount controls valuable franchises such as “Mission: Impossible” and “Transformers,” but it has often found itself punching up against entertainment giants such as Disney and Warner Bros., which have deeper libraries. ViacomCBS further complicated matters by being slow to launch in an in-house streaming service to rival HBOMax, Disney Plus, Netflix and other platforms. During the height of the pandemic when theaters were closed, Paramount sold several films such as “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” “Coming 2 America” and “Without Remorse” to streaming services, often for major paydays.

Robbins is believed to have a greater grasp of the streaming revolution currently taking place in Hollywood and the goal is for him to work more holistically across ViacomCBS’s various divisions. Gianopulos did have some notable successes at Paramount. He restored the money-losing studio to profitability, helped create new franchises such as “Sonic the Hedgehog” and “A Quiet Place,” and strengthened the company’s animation output with films like “Paw Patrol.” He was also a major proponent for a shorter theatrical window, helping nail out agreements for Paramount releases to hit home entertainment platforms 45 days after they debuted in cinemas.

A person familiar with the matter said Robbins is expected to retain oversight of Nickelodeon, a key unit for its corporate parent. A formal announcement of his promotion could come as soon as Friday. Gianopulos is expected to remain at the studio for a period of time to oversee the transition. It’s unclear what the news will mean for the executive team that Gianopulos has established at the studio.

Robbins, a former child actor who appeared on the ABC sitcom “Head of the Class,” has experience in some of the new forms of entertainment attracting younger consumers He founded AwesomenessTV in 2012. He sold the company, which specialized in making YouTube content for Generation Z, to DreamWorks Animation, which later sold stakes to Hearst and Verizon. Viacom bought the platform in 2018 following Comcast’s acquisition of DreamWorks Animation. Robbins later oversaw Paramount Players, a production division that created the likes of “What Men Want” and the live-action adaptation of “Dora the Explorer.”

The Wall Street Journal first reported the news of Robbins’ promotion and Gianopulos’ departure. A spokesperson for Viacom did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

William Earl contributed to this report.