Emma Watts is out as Paramount’s motion picture group president.
Watts exits just over a year in the job, on the heels of her former Fox boss Jim Gianopulos — whose jaw-dropping ouster as Paramount Pictures Chairman and CEO shook up Hollywood in early September. Gianopulos was replaced by Brian Robbins, the former head of Viacom’s Nickelodeon label.
In a statement, Robbins said the studio had benefitted greatly from “the deep talents of Emma Watts who, among so many accomplishments, helped build a terrific team at the studio, facilitated overall deals with top-tier talent including John Krasinski and Ryan Reynolds, and shepherded a number of exciting upcoming projects including the latest film in the ‘Star Trek’ franchise, the newest ‘Transformers’ film, and a star-studded ‘Dungeons & Dragons’ adaptation. We wish her nothing but success in her future.”
Daria Cercek and Michael Ireland will both oversee production in Watts’ absence, reporting directly to Robbins. Her exit, predicted by industry insiders in the days following the Gianopulos news, comes as many in entertainment and on Wall Street speculate that Viacom is no longer interested in grand theatrical fare and is prioritizing volume for its streaming service Paramount Plus.
Studio insiders insisted that Paramount is committed to releasing its current slate — which includes “Top Gun: Maverick” and the upcoming “Mission: Impossible” sequels — in theaters.
“Daria and Michael each have built tremendous track records in their careers, and their collective experience has already brought so much benefit to Paramount since joining the organization,” Robbins said of the new leadership structure.
Upon her arrival, trade headlines celebrated veteran production executive Watts as “Paramount’s white knight,” a figure with business acumen and deep talent relationships who knew how to make theatrical movies. One that could restore this historic studio to its former glory, having worked on top franchises like “X-Men,” “Avatar” and the “Deadpool” series from her longtime seat at the former 20th Century Fox.
Watts shuffled over to the Walt Disney Company in 2018, following the media giant’s acquisition of the entertainment assets of 20th Century Fox film and television, where she meant to shepherd the 20th Century label under new ownership. She departed for Paramount in March 2020.