Will Paramount’s annoucement at the Venice Film Festival change movies forever
The 78th Venice International Film Festival was, albeit briefly, the capital of the film world.
The film festival which concluded this weekend showcased some of the most provocative upcoming films. French director Audrey Diwan won the festival’s top prize, the Golden Lion for best film, for Happening, a film about illegal abortions in France in the 1960s. Diwan’s win comes just months after Julia Ducournau’s Titane won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.
Jane Campion took home the best director award for the Benedict Cumberbatch-led western The Power of the Dog, her first feature in twelve years. While the Venice Film Festival was a celebration of exciting new voices in film, it also had a tragic announcement that could shake the pillars of American films for years to come.
In Venice, amidst the high fashion & high art of the film world, news that Paramount Pictures, one of the oldest film studios in the world, is looking to shrink its theatrical productions.
It has been reported that the famed studio is restructuring in order to focus on remakes, branded content, and cheaper fare to support its streaming service Paramount+.
The sweeping changes for Paramount will start at the top. Jim Gianopulos, who served as the studio’s chief executive officer since 2017, will leave the company. Gianopulos previously took over a company struggling to adapt to a rapidly changing media landscape.
Gianopulos scored hits with A Quiet Place, as well as franchise sequels like Mission Impossible – Fallout & Bumblebee. He also inked a deal to bring a series of new Paramount releases like The Trial of the Chicago 7 to Netflix, stabilizing the studio.
However, the writing has been on the wall for some time that changes were coming to the Mountain. In March 2021, Paramount launched their own streaming service, Paramount+. The new streaming service boasted a shorter theatrical window, meaning new releases like A Quiet Place II, Snake Eyes, PAW Patrol, as well as upcoming films like Top Gun: Maverick would hit Paramount+ just forty-five days after the theaters.
The stunning news of Paramount’s restructure comes on the heels of the studio pushing back releases of Top Gun: Maverick, Mission: Impossible 7, and Jackass Forever to 2022. Snake Eyes was also a colossal failure for the studio which saw an estimated budget of $110 million bring in only $37 million world wide.
It appears that Paramount may be a bargaining chip in a much larger media merger. Rumors have swirled that ViacomCBS, Paramount’s parent company, has been looking to merge with Comcast. Such a large merger would likely receive considerable regulatory attention from the US government. Perhaps the studio was hoping to hide the news amidst the excitement surrounding the Venice International Film Festival.
Paramount Pictures dates back to the early days of Hollywood. The Famous Players Film Company was founded in 1912 by the Hungarian-born Adolph Zukor.
Jesse Lansky, a film producer who discovered Cecil B. DeMille, founded his own Lasky Feature Play Company. The two companies eventually became Famous Players-Lasky. This company also started a distribution firm for their productions called Paramount Pictures.
Paramount Pictures nearly collapsed during the Great Depression. However, Zukor’s reorganization of the company turned it into one of the most prolific movie studios of the era. Paramount would spend much of the next few decades being shuffled between corporate stockholders. In the 60s, Paramount tried to pivot to producing television, a gamble that ultimately amounted to nothing.
Virtually unknown producer Robert Evans assumed control of production in the late 60s and would go on to transform the studio. Evans’ Paramount released films like Rosemary’s Baby, The Godfather, The Italian Job, Serpico, The Conversation, The Odd Couple, Harold and Maude, Chinatown, among many others.
Evans would leave the studio after a series of financial failures. Paramount would experience a period of financial & critical success. Currently, the studio has struggled to recapture that success in a rapidly changing media landscape. It appears that the studio once known as the Mountain will abandon its legacy in order to protect its bottom line.
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