The changing of the legacy guard in Hollywood continues in a business focused on prioritizing content for streaming customers.
Last week, we learned that seasoned studio chief Jim Gianopulos, who for decades has been shepherding big, successful theatrical movies, was being pushed out after four years as chairman and CEO of Paramount Pictures in favor of a digital-leaning leader known for purveying lower-cost content aimed at younger consumers.
While the abrupt move shocked many inside and outside Paramount — rumor had it that at some point production chief Emma Watts might succeed Gianopulos — it was unsurprising to learn whom his ViacomCBS bosses Bob Bakish and Shari Redstone selected to replace him.
Nickelodeon CEO Brian Robbins has been steadily rising through the ranks at Viacom and was recently given added responsibility as chief content officer of kids and family content for Paramount Plus, which launched this year as a late-in-the-game entrant to the streaming wars. Robbins has been digitally facing for some time, having been a founder in 2012 of AwesomenessTV, which originated as a YouTube network for youth and teens and later expanded into film and TV production. (It’s now owned by Viacom).
Though Gianopulos returned the financially struggling Paramount Pictures to profitability and helped oversee its big franchises and create new ones like “A Quiet Place,” he comes from a very different era, one where movies had a long exclusive runway in theaters before being available at home, and expensive box office releases with huge returns drove the business. Now, media companies are reevaluating capital investments as they attend to the immediate needs of their streaming platforms.
On a personal note, I’ve always been very fond of Gianopulos and consider him one of the most decent and smartest industry leaders. And, by the way, during his 16-year run at 20th Century Fox he was always thought of as ahead of the curve and at the forefront of new media. Among his peers at other studios, he was one of the first to embrace the convergence of entertainment and new technologies. Post-Paramount, Gianopulos will surely figure out a way to parlay his savvy, decades of experience and strong ties in Hollywood into an innovative new endeavor. Of that I am certain.