Nickelodeon’s Brian Robbins will take over Paramount Pictures as Chairman and CEO following the departure of Jim Gianopulos.
Jim Gianopulos had a good run as the studio chief but he’s more or less ending on a sour note. Snake Eyes didn’t bring in solid numbers upon release. Moreover, the pandemic led the studio to unload a number of films onto streaming services. As such, Amazon Prime Video played home to Coming 2 America, Without Remorse, and The Tomorrow War. These films would have put up great numbers at the box office in a non-pandemic year. However, the pandemic meant a lot of experimenting and nobody is really running to Paramount+. I’d have to look up the numbers for unloading on Amazon but make no mistake that the pandemic really hurt the studio for the past year and a half.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Robbins won’t just head Paramount Pictures but “will continue to oversee Nickelodeon and kids and family content at streaming service Paramount+.” If you ask me, this signals a direction that the studio will focus on their streaming service. In a world where there are way too many streaming services, I’m not sure that placing all this content on Paramount+ is the way to go. Outside of the Star Trek series, Paramount isn’t really churning out the content for their service.
This is most telling about their future:
It is believed that Robbins, the former head of youth-focused film and television entertainment company AwesomenessTV, is more attuned to demands of the streaming age, with Paramount+ becoming the top priority for ViacomCBS. But Robbins’ feature film work is primarily made up of modestly budgeted cross-brand titles, remakes and comedies, and has yet to deal with A-list talent like Tom Cruise and John Krasinski, as well as mega studio budgets. The thinking, one source says, is that Paramount will be scaling back on its theatrical tentpole productions to focus on titles that will service Paramount+.
Gianopulos wasn’t even at the studio for long. It appears that he is more a less a bridge between the past and the future. He arrived from Fox in 2017 to replace Brad Grey. While heading the studio, he pushed for a smaller theatrical window. One wonders what the decision to go with Robbins will mean for Fox veteran Emma Watts. Could she leave soon? But still, choosing Robbins over Watts really speaks to their future. An executive like Watts would mean a definite commitment to theatrical. In reading the THR piece, it is hard to imagine Robbins having the same commitment. Time will tell and I hope I am proven wrong about this.
Make no mistake that we’re living in a new era for cinema. Adolph Zukor built up the studio during the first half of the 20th century. Without him, there would be no multiplexes because studios would still be releasing films in their own theaters. It would be interesting to hear what he would think if he were alive today. Would Zukor believe in the future of streaming or a commitment to theatrical? What would he make of a gazillion streaming services? In some ways, the streaming services are much like the early theaters being run by the studios. By removing theatrical from the equation, there is no middle man. However, they still have to deal with the likes of Roku and such when it comes to subscription revenue.
Right now, Paramount+ has a lot of competition. Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max, Apple TV+, Peacock, etc. The list honestly goes on and on. THR reports that Paramount+ has 42 million subscribers with a goal of 65-75 million by 2024. It’s a lofty goal and could happen with their current subscription fees. But again, outside of Star Trek, what new programs are coming to the streaming service?
The streaming wars might not be over but Paramount+ has a long hill to climb from where I’m sitting.