Paramount Pictures

by Samantha Palumbo

Credit: Google Images

Paramount Pictures is the longest operating film and television production and distribution company in the United States, and is the last major film studio to have its headquarters in Hollywood, CA. Paramount Pictures is a division of the media conglomerate Viacom, and boasts more than 1,000 films in its collection, including iconic films such as the Indiana Jones series, Forrest Gump, and Titanic, and uses Paramount Home Entertainment to distribute its films on DVD and Blu-ray.

Brad Grey

Key People:

Brad Grey– Chief Executive Officer

Frederick Hunstberry – Chief Operating Officer

Mark Badagilacca – Chief Financial Officer

Randall Baumberger – President of Paramount Studio Group



Founded in 1912 by Adolph Zukor, Jesse Lasky, and Cecil DeMille, Paramount Pictures became the first studio in Hollywood to make a feature length film with its version of The Squaw Man, originally a stage play. By 1920 the studio was releasing two-three new pictures a week, and established its famous symbol of a snow-covered mountain peak, which remains today [12].

Throughout the years, some of the most iconic directors and actors of all time have worked with Paramount to create the classic films we have today, such as Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960), Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments (1923), and Blake Edwards’ Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961), starring Audrey Hepburn. Next to these classic


films, Paramount also produced some of the most successful television series of all time, including Happy Days, The Brady Bunch, Cheers, and Fraiser[10]. The studio first dabbled in the world of television in the 1960’s, after it purchased Desilu television studios from Lucille Ball, and expanded its original 26-acre lot. The studio lot today covers 65 acres with thirty stages, and offers tours to the public to show fans the sets of legendary films, and walk in the footsteps of leaders of the cinema world [10].

Paramount has never slowed down, and went on to produce the highest grossing film of all time, Titanic (1997), until 20th Century Fox released Avatar in 2009, which is now the box office record holder. Further success flooded the studio under the director of Brad Grey, who became CEO back in 2005. Under his direction, Paramount released eight of its top 10 highest grossing films of all time, including the Transformers and Paranormal Activity franchises, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and Star Trek [12]. The studio made history at the Academy Awards back in 2010 with 20 total nominations, due to the success of True Grit, The Fighter, and How To Train Your Dragon, and has had countless awards over its reign as the largest studio, with successes such as No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood. In 2011, Paramount made box office history yet again with six consecutive movies grossing more than $100 million dollars, an industry record, with the releases of Rango, Thor, Kung Fu Panda 2, Super 8, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, and Captain America [12].

Recent Films:

Paranormal Activity 4

Paramount has seen great success with the Paranormal Activity franchise, but experienced disappointing results with the release of the fourth film on October 19, 2012. Paranormal Activity 2 opened at the box office with $40.7 million in 2010, and an even


higher opening weekend for Paranormal Activity 3 came at $52.6 million last October, so they were disappointed to see the fourth film start with $29 million opening weekend [2]. The fourth film in the series has yet to gross as high as the first three, but may see more cash flow come in with the DVD release, set for January 2013. Despite not having staggering success, Paranormal Activity 4 still earned the studio its budget and more, and the fifth installment of the franchise has a set release date for October of 2013. The success of the fifth film may show Paramount if audiences have been paranormal-activitied-out.

Paranormal Activity 4 also had a different type of promotion out for the film, which was a contest to see which 25 cities around the world voted the most to have a free screening of the film three days before the theatrical release. Participants voted for their city through a Facebook application, and the results came out October 11th. Lima, Peru was ranked as the #1 city, which received a free screening, as well as cities in Brazil, Russia, Argentina, the U.K., France, Germany, and the United States [9].


November proved to be a box office success for Paramount with the release of its adult drama, Flight, starring Denzel Washington, which currently has a domestic total of $83 million. Though opening weekend only reached $25 million, and did not make the films budget of $31 million right away, the film has held its own over the past month while competing with box office blockbusters Skyfall and Breaking Dawn Part 2 [6]. The film, about an alcoholic pilot, received some press after Anheuser-Busch asked Paramount in late October to remove the Budweiser logo from the film, as they felt it negatively portrayed the brand, which is an advocate of responsible drinking [4]. The company stated

“We would never condone the misuse of our products, and have a long history of promoting responsible drinking and preventing drunk driving. We have asked the studio to obscure the Budweiser trademark in current digital copies of the movie and on all subsequent adaptations of the film, including DVD, On Demand, streaming and additional prints not yet distributed to theaters [4].”

Though Anheauser-Busch was displeased with the incorporation of their product in the film, there was little they could do about it legally since trademark laws do not give companies the right to censor their products in film and television. Paramount did not remove the logos from Flight, and Budweiser can still be seen throughout the movie and trailer.


Paramount also finished its seven year distribution deal with DreamWorks with Rise of the Guardians, which released on November 21 to extremely disappointing results. With a production budget of $145 million, the opening weekend only earned $24 million and a current domestic total only reaching $51 million [5]. This was the last film Paramount will distribute for DreamWorks, as DreamWorks announced at the end of August that they signed a deal with 20th Century Fox as their new distributor [3]. As a result, Paramount may see a dip in their income come 2013, as DreamWorks was a big income generator for them, paying Paramount $50 million in theatrical release fees alone.

Upcoming Releases:


The studio is set to release three films in December 2012, including The Guilt Trip, starring Seth Rogen and Barbara Streisand, Not Fade Away, and Jack Reacher, starring Tom Cruise [1].

The Guilt Trip, a story about a man who goes on a road trip with his mother, should attract a variety of generations and audiences with the team of comedy powerhouse Rogen and famed Streisand, and Jack Reacher, an action flick about an investigator hunting a military sniper, is sure to attract Cruise fans. Not Fade Away could prove to be a bit of a miss for the studio, as it has no major celebrities and not much advertising.


Top Competitors:

Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Fox Filmed Entertainment

The Walt Disney Studios [11].


In the most recent fourth quarter financial report from Viacom, the conglomerate reported a 17% drop in revenues from $4.05 in 2011 to $3.36 billion in 2012. The company stated that it is hard to compare these two years due to the major financial impact Transformers: Dark of the Moon had when Paramount released it last June. The film had a total gross of $353 million, so without another large blockbuster in 2012, the numbers were sure to drop [7]. Director of Transformers 4, Michael Bay, announced on November 8th that Mark Wahlberg is set to star in the next film of the franchise, which Paramount has set to release June 27, 2014 [8]. With hype already building for the film, and an A list celebrity now attached, Viacom should definitely see their income skyrocket again in 2014.

Works Cited: