As we reported earlier this month, Paramount Pictures has been on the hunt for a new CEO after former studio head Brad Grey was shown the door following the studio’s dismal box office performance in 2016. This afternoon Viacom, parent company to Paramount, announced former Fox Filmed Entertainment Group Chairman and CEO Jim Gianopulos has been tapped to take over The Mountain as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. Deadline, who actually broke the news before the official press release went out, reports Gianopulos will “be in charge of re-invigorating a studio that was all but financially picked clean by the previous regime.”
In the official press release Viacom CEO Bob Bakish said:
“Jim is a remarkably talented executive with all the tools – strategic vision, strong business expertise, deep industry and creative relationships – to bring films to life that resonate throughout culture and deliver commercial results. I’m thrilled we will have the benefit of his experience, savvy and global expertise as we lay out a clear path forward and begin the next chapter in Paramount’s storied history.”
In the same release Gianopulos states:
“Paramount is one of Hollywood’s truly iconic studios, and the role it has played in shaping the entertainment industry cannot be overstated. Looking ahead, I see a strong opportunity to position the studio for success by creating valuable franchise opportunities, developing fresh creative ventures, and mining Viacom’s deep brand portfolio to bring exciting new narratives to life. I am eager to get to work with Bob and the rest of the Viacom and Paramount teams to ensure Paramount continues to deliver rich, powerful films and television programming for all audiences.”
A turnaround CEO who is genre tentpole friendly
Gianopulos has over 30 years of experience in the industry, working in distribution, marketing and production, including 16 years heading up Fox. This will be a homecoming of sorts, as he started his career at Paramount before moving on to international distribution at Fox.
He also has some experience with turnarounds. A 2014 Variety profile of Gianopulos notes:
Before being plucked in 2000 to co-run Fox’s movie operation with Tom Rothman, Gianopulos rebuilt the studio’s moribund international division into a powerhouse that today generates an average of $2 billion a year at the box office.
He is also no stranger to genre tentpoles, as also noted in the same Variety profile:
Fox became the first studio to cross $3 billion in global box office revenue [in 2014], and is tops in market share. It achieved those lofty heights on the success of a combination of well-received sequels, such as “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” and “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” which were initiated under [Fox co-head Tom] Rothman and Gianopulus.
As of now it is unclear what effect this hire will have on the next Star Trek movie, which was announced by Paramount eight months ago. As previously reported by TrekMovie, the new CEO of Viacom said the corporation was looking to have a more integrated strategy, with more movies tied into Viacom TV properties, and a smaller slate for other Paramount projects. However, he also specifically cited Star Trek as part of the studios tentpole strategy.
Focused on international
In his time with Fox, Gianopulos was particularly focused on global markets, where he significantly expanded the studio’s market share. According to the LA Times, in addition to implementing Viacom’s new integration strategy, Gianopulos is also tasked with. “expanding the studio’s global footprint.” X-Men franchise star Hugh Jackman had this to say about Gianopulos to Variety:
“He told me that careers go through peaks and troughs, so it’s important for an actor to be mindful of their international profile,” recalls Jackman. “He said there have been actors who may no longer pop in America, but who have a big enough international profile to still get movies made. I’ve always been mindful to promote my movies globally.”
Fox tentpole’s under Gianopulos’ watch typically made two-thirds or more of their box office overseas, whereas the last two Star Trek features were closer to parity between domestic and foreign sales. It is unclear if Gianopuluos will see Trek’s lagging other franchises internationally as a liability, or an opportunity for growth.
Paramount’s money problems are job one
As noted in the last article about corporate dealings within Viacom and Paramount, no big decisions about the future of the Star Trek film franchise could take place until a new CEO came on board. That milestone will get passed next Monday when Gianopulos takes the reins at the studio. It is likely he will start off by focusing on some shorter term issues, such as securing the previously reported Chinese financing. Viacom is currently holding $12 Billion in debt and so Paramount really needs that $1 Billion in Chinese money just to keep its current development state moving forward. He will likely then begin to implement Viacom’s new integration strategy with their TV properties.
Hopefully he can soon turn his attention to the future of the multi-billion dollar franchise that has been part of the studio through thirteen feature films over four decades.
Keep up with all the news regarding the next Star Trek film here at TrekMovie.