Logo used as of 2011
|Subsidiary of Viacom|
|Founded||1912 (as Famous Players Film Company)
Jesse L. Lasky
W. W. Hodkinson
(Chairman and CEO)
|Revenue||$3.7 billion (2014)|
|$219 million (2014)|
|Parent||Viacom, Inc. (1994-present)
Gulf and Western (1966-1994)
Paramount Home Media Distribution
Paramount Famous Productions
Comedy Central Films
United International Pictures (50%)
Paramount Stations Group
|Subsidiaries||Melange Pictures, LLC|
Paramount Pictures Corporation (commonly known as Paramount Pictures or simply Paramount, and formerly known as Famous Players-Lasky Corporation) is a film studio, television production company and motion picture distributor, consistently ranked as one of the "Big Six" film studios of Hollywood. It is a subsidiary of U.S. media conglomerate Viacom. Paramount is a member of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). It has distributed several successful film series, such as Transformers, Mission: Impossible, the Marvel Cinematic Universe series (2008–11), Indiana Jones (1981–2008), The Godfather, Star Trek, Jack Ryan, Jackass, The Bad News Bears, Beverly Hills Cop, "Crocodile" Dundee, Paranormal Activity, Friday the 13th and G.I. Joe.
In 2014, Paramount Pictures became the first major Hollywood studio to distribute all of its films in digital-form only.
- 1 History
- 1.1 1911–1920: Early history
- 1.2 1921–1930: The rise
- 1.3 1931–1940: Receivership
- 1.4 1941–1950: United States v. Paramount Pictures, Inc.
- 1.5 1951–1966: Split and after
- 1.6 1966–1970: Early Gulf+Western era
- 1.7 1971–1980: CIC formation and high-concept era
- 1.8 1980–1994: Continuous success
- 1.9 1994–2004: Dolgen/Lansing and "old" Viacom era
- 1.10 2005: Dissolution of the Viacom Entertainment Group and Paramount
- 1.11 2005–present: Paramount today
- 2 Investments
- 3 Units
- 4 Production deals
- 5 Logo
- 6 Visiting Paramount
- 7 Film Library
- 8 Highest-grossing films
- 9 Film series
- 10 See also
- 11 Notes
- 12 References
- 13 Further reading
- 14 External links
1911–1920: Early history
Paramount is the fifth oldest surviving film studio in the world after the French studios Gaumont Film Company (1895) and Pathé (1896), followed by the Nordisk Film company (1906), and Universal Studios (1912). It is the last major film studio still headquartered in the Hollywood district of Los Angeles.
Paramount Pictures dates its existence from the 1912 founding date of the Famous Players Film Company. Founder Hungarian-born Adolph Zukor, who had been an early investor in nickelodeons, saw that movies appealed mainly to working-class immigrants. With partners Daniel Frohman and Charles Frohman he planned to offer feature-length films that would appeal to the middle class by featuring the leading theatrical players of the time (leading to the slogan "Famous Players in Famous Plays"). By mid-1913, Famous Players had completed five films, and Zukor was on his way to success.
That same year, another aspiring producer, Jesse L. Lasky, opened his Lasky Feature Play Company with money borrowed from his brother-in-law, Samuel Goldfish, later known as Samuel Goldwyn. The Lasky company hired as their first employee a stage director with virtually no film experience, Cecil B. DeMille, who would find a suitable location site in Hollywood, near Los Angeles, for his first feature film, The Squaw Man.
Starting in 1914, both Lasky and Famous Players released their films through a start-up company, Paramount Pictures Corporation, organized early that year by a Utah theatre owner, W. W. Hodkinson, who had bought and merged several smaller firms. Hodkinson and actor, director, producer Hobart Bosworth had started production of a series of Jack London movies. Paramount was the first successful nationwide distributor; until this time, films were sold on a statewide or regional basis which had proved costly to film producers. Also, Famous Players and Lasky were privately owned while Paramount was a corporation.
In 1916, Zukor maneuvered a three-way merger of his Famous Players, the Lasky Company, and Paramount. Zukor and Lasky bought Hodkinson out of Paramount, and merged the three companies into one. The new company Lasky and Zukor founded, Famous Players-Lasky Corporation, grew quickly, with Lasky and his partners Goldwyn and DeMille running the production side, Hiram Abrams in charge of distribution, and Zukor making great plans. With only the exhibitor-owned First National as a rival, Famous Players-Lasky and its "Paramount Pictures" soon dominated the business.
1921–1930: The rise
Because Zukor believed in stars, he signed and developed many of the leading early stars, including Mary Pickford, Marguerite Clark, Pauline Frederick, Douglas Fairbanks, Gloria Swanson, Rudolph Valentino, and Wallace Reid. With so many important players, Paramount was able to introduce "block booking", which meant that an exhibitor who wanted a particular star's films had to buy a year's worth of other Paramount productions. It was this system that gave Paramount a leading position in the 1920s and 1930s, but which led the government to pursue it on antitrust grounds for more than twenty years.
The driving force behind Paramount's rise was Zukor. Through the teens and twenties, he built the Publix Theatres Corporation, a chain of nearly 2,000 screens, ran two production studios (in Astoria, New York, and Hollywood, California), and became an early investor in radio, taking a 50% interest in the new Columbia Broadcasting System in 1928 (selling it within a few years; this would not be the last time Paramount and CBS crossed paths).
In 1926, Zukor hired independent producer B. P. Schulberg, an unerring eye for new talent, to run the new West Coast operations. They purchased the Robert Brunton Studios, a 26-acre facility at 5451 Marathon Street for US$1 million. In 1927, Famous Players-Lasky took the name Paramount Famous Lasky Corporation. Three years later, because of the importance of the Publix Theatres, it became Paramount Publix Corporation.
In 1928, Paramount began releasing Inkwell Imps, animated cartoons produced by Max and Dave Fleischer's Fleischer Studios in New York City. The Fleischers, veterans in the animation industry, were among the few animation producers capable of challenging the prominence of Walt Disney. The Paramount newsreel series Paramount News ran from 1927 to 1957. In 1929 Paramount Released their first musical "Innocents of Paris." Richard A. Whiting and Leo Robin composed the score for the film; Maurice Chevalier starred and sung the most famous song from the film, "Louise".
Publix, Balaban and Katz, Loew's competition, and wonder theaters
By acquiring the successful Balaban & Katz chain in 1926, Zukor gained the services of Barney Balaban (who would eventually become Paramount's president in 1936), his brother A. J. Balaban (who would eventually supervise all stage production nationwide and produce talkie shorts), and their partner Sam Katz (who would run the Paramount-Publix theatre chain in New York City from the thirty-five-story Paramount Theatre Building on Times Square).
Balaban and Katz had developed the Wonder Theater concept, first publicized around 1918 in Chicago. The Chicago Theater was created as a very ornate theater and advertised as a "wonder theater." When Publix acquired Balaban, they embarked on a project to expand the wonder theaters, and starting building in New York in 1927. While Balaban and Public were dominant in Chicago, Loew's was the big player in New York, and did not want the Publix theaters to overshadow theirs. The two companies brokered a non-competition deal for New York and Chicago, and Loew's took over the New York area projects, developing five wonder theaters. Publix continued Balaban's wonder theater development in its home area.
Eventually, Zukor shed most of his early partners; the Frohman brothers, Hodkinson and Goldwyn were out by 1917 while Lasky hung on until 1932, when, blamed for the near-collapse of Paramount in the Depression years, he too was tossed out. Zukor's over-expansion and use of overvalued Paramount stock for purchases led the company into receivership in 1933. A bank-mandated reorganization team, led by John Hertz and Otto Kahn kept the company intact, and, miraculously, Zukor was kept on. In 1935, Paramount-Publix went bankrupt. In 1936, Barney Balaban became president, and Zukor was bumped up to chairman of the board. In this role, Zukor reorganized the company as Paramount Pictures, Inc. and was able to successfully bring the studio out of bankruptcy.
As always, Paramount films continued to emphasize stars; in the 1920s there were Swanson, Valentino, and Clara Bow. By the 1930s, talkies brought in a range of powerful new draws: Miriam Hopkins, Marlene Dietrich, Mae West, W.C. Fields, Jeanette MacDonald, Claudette Colbert, the Marx Brothers (whose first two films were shot at Paramount's Astoria, New York, studio), Dorothy Lamour, Carole Lombard, Bing Crosby, band leader Shep Fields, famous Argentine tango singer Carlos Gardel, and Gary Cooper among them. In this period Paramount can truly be described as a movie factory, turning out sixty to seventy pictures a year. Such were the benefits of having a huge theater chain to fill, and of block booking to persuade other chains to go along. In 1933, Mae West would also add greatly to Paramount's success with her suggestive movies She Done Him Wrong and I'm No Angel. However, the sex appeal West gave in these movies would also lead to the enforcement of the Production Code, as the newly formed organization the Catholic Legion of Decency threatened a boycott if it was not enforced.
Paramount cartoons produced by Fleischer Studios continued to be successful, with characters such as Betty Boop and Popeye the Sailor becoming widely successful. One Fleischer series, Screen Songs, featured live-action music stars under contract to Paramount hosting sing-alongs of popular songs. However, a huge blow to Fleischer Studios occurred in 1934, after the Production Code was enforced and Betty Boop's popularity declined as she was forced to have a more tame personality and wear a longer skirt. The animation studio would rebound with Popeye, and in 1935, polls showed that Popeye was even more popular than Mickey Mouse. After an unsuccessful expansion into feature films, as well as the fact that Max and Dave Fleischer were no longer speaking to one another, Fleischer Studios was acquired by Paramount, which renamed the operation Famous Studios. That incarnation of the animation studio continued cartoon production until 1967, but has been historically dismissed as having largely failed to maintain the artistic acclaim the Fleischer brothers achieved under their management.
1941–1950: United States v. Paramount Pictures, Inc.
In 1940, Paramount agreed to a government-instituted consent decree: block booking and "pre-selling" (the practice of collecting up-front money for films not yet in production) would end. Immediately Paramount cut back on production, from seventy-one pictures to a more modest nineteen annually in the war years. Still, with more new stars like Bob Hope, Alan Ladd, Veronica Lake, Paulette Goddard, and Betty Hutton, and with war-time attendance at astronomical numbers, Paramount and the other integrated studio-theatre combines made more money than ever. At this, the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department decided to reopen their case against the five integrated studios. Paramount also had a monopoly over Detroit movie theaters through subsidiary company United Detroit Theaters as well. This led to the Supreme Court decision United States v. Paramount Pictures, Inc. (1948) holding that movie studios could not also own movie theater chains. This decision broke up Adolph Zukor's creation and effectively brought an end to the classic Hollywood studio system.
1951–1966: Split and after
With the separation of production and exhibition forced by the U.S. Supreme Court, Paramount Pictures Inc. was split in two. Paramount Pictures Corporation was formed to be the production distribution company, with the 1,500-screen theater chain handed to the new United Paramount Theaters on December 31, 1949. Leonard Goldenson, who had headed the chain since 1938, remained as the new company's president. The Balaban and Katz theatre division was spun off with UPT; its trademark eventually became the property of the Balaban and Katz Historical Foundation. The Foundation has recently acquired ownership of the Famous Players Trademark. Cash-rich and controlling prime downtown real estate, Goldenson began looking for investments. Barred from film-making by prior anti-trust rulings, he acquired the struggling ABC television network in February 1953, leading it first to financial health, and eventually, in the mid-1970s, to first place in the national Nielsen ratings, before selling out to Capital Cities in 1985 (Capital Cities would eventually sell out, in turn, to The Walt Disney Company in 1996). United Paramount Theaters was renamed ABC Theaters in 1965 and was sold to businessman Henry Plitt in 1974. The movie theater chain was renamed Plitt Theaters. In 1985, Cineplex Odeon Corporation merged with Plitt. In later years, Paramount's TV division would develop a strong relationship with ABC, providing many hit series to the network.
The DuMont Network
Paramount Pictures had been an early backer of television, launching experimental stations in 1939 in Los Angeles and Chicago. The Los Angeles station eventually became KTLA, the first commercial station on the West Coast. The Chicago station got a commercial license as WBKB in 1943, but was sold to UPT along with Balaban & Katz in 1948 and was eventually resold to CBS as WBBM-TV.
In 1938, Paramount bought a stake in television manufacturer DuMont Laboratories. Through this stake, it became a minority owner of the DuMont Television Network. Also Paramount launched its own network, Paramount Television Network, in 1948 through its television unit, Television Productions, Inc.
However, Paramount proved to be a timid and obstructionist partner in DuMont; its minority stake hampered the network's efforts to expand. Paramount management planned to acquire additional owned-and-operated stations ("O&Os"); the company applied to the FCC for additional stations in San Francisco, Detroit, and Boston. The FCC, however, denied Paramount's applications. A few years earlier, the federal regulator had placed a five-station cap on all television networks: no network was allowed to own more than five VHF television stations. Paramount was hampered by its minority stake in the DuMont Television Network. Although both DuMont and Paramount executives stated that the companies were separate, the FCC ruled that Paramount's partial ownership of DuMont meant that DuMont and Paramount were in theory branches of the same company. Since DuMont owned three television stations and Paramount owned two, the federal agency ruled neither network could acquire additional television stations. The FCC requested that Paramount relinquish its stake in DuMont, but Paramount refused. According to television historian William Boddy, "Paramount's checkered anti-trust history" helped convince the FCC that Paramount controlled DuMont. Both DuMont and Paramount Television Network suffered as a result, with neither company able to acquire five O&Os. Meanwhile, CBS, ABC, and NBC had each acquired the maximum of five stations by the mid-1950s.
When ABC accepted a merger offer from UPT in 1953, DuMont quickly realized that ABC now had more resources than it could possibly hope to match. It quickly reached an agreement in principle to merge with ABC. However, Paramount vetoed the deal in part due to an earlier FCC ruling that Paramount controlled DuMont, as well as concerns that UPT was still a Paramount subsidiary. Within two years of the failed ABC deal, DuMont was no more.
In 1951, Paramount bought a stake in International Telemeter, an experimental pay TV service which operated with a coin inserted into a box. The service began operating in Palm Springs, California on November 27, 1953, but due to pressure from the FCC, the service ended on May 15, 1954.
With the loss of the theater chain, Paramount Pictures went into a decline, cutting studio-backed production, releasing its contract players, and making production deals with independents. By the mid-1950s, all the great names were gone; only C.B. DeMille, associated with Paramount since 1913, kept making pictures in the grand old style. Despite Paramount's losses, DeMille would, however, give the studio some relief and create his most successful film at Paramount, a 1956 remake of his 1923 film The Ten Commandments. DeMille died in 1959. Like some other studios, Paramount saw little value in its film library, and sold 764 of its pre-1948 films to MCA Inc. (known today as Universal Studios Inc.) in February 1958.
1966–1970: Early Gulf+Western era
By the early 1960s, Paramount's future was doubtful. The high-risk movie business was wobbly; the theater chain was long gone; investments in DuMont and in early pay-television came to nothing; and the end of the Golden Age of Hollywood, even the flagship Paramount building in Times Square was sold to raise cash, as was KTLA (sold to Gene Autry in 1964 for a then-phenomenal $12.5 million). Founding father Adolph Zukor (born in 1873) was still chairman emeritus; he referred to chairman Barney Balaban (born 1888) as "the boy." Such aged leadership was incapable of keeping up with the changing times, and in 1966, a sinking Paramount was sold to Charles Bluhdorn's industrial conglomerate, Gulf + Western Industries Corporation. Bluhdorn immediately put his stamp on the studio, installing a virtually unknown producer named Robert Evans as head of production. Despite some rough times, Evans held the job for eight years, restoring Paramount's reputation for commercial success with The Odd Couple, Rosemary's Baby, Love Story, The Godfather, Chinatown, and 3 Days of the Condor.
Gulf + Western Industries also bought the neighboring Desilu television studio (once the lot of RKO Pictures) from Lucille Ball in 1967. Using some of Desilu's established shows such as Star Trek, Mission: Impossible, and Mannix as a foot in the door at the networks, the newly reincorporated Paramount Television eventually became known as a specialist in half-hour situation comedies.
1971–1980: CIC formation and high-concept era
In 1970, Paramount teamed with Universal Studios to form Cinema International Corporation, a new company that would distribute films by the two studios outside the United States. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer would become a partner in the mid-1970s. Both Paramount and CIC entered the video market with Paramount Home Video (now Paramount Home Entertainment) and CIC Video, respectively.
Robert Evans abandoned his position as head of production in 1974; his successor, Richard Sylbert, proved to be too literary and too tasteful for Gulf + Western's Bluhdorn. By 1976, a new, television-trained team was in place headed by Barry Diller and his "Killer-Dillers", as they were called by admirers or "Dillettes" as they were called by detractors. These associates, made up of Michael Eisner, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Dawn Steel and Don Simpson would each go on and head up major movie studios of their own later in their careers.
The Paramount specialty was now simpler. "High concept" pictures such as Saturday Night Fever and Grease hit big, hit hard and hit fast all over the world, and Diller's television background led him to propose one of his longest-standing ideas to the board: Paramount Television Service, a fourth commercial network. Paramount Pictures purchased the Hughes Television Network (HTN) including its satellite time in planning for PTVS in 1976. Paramount sold HTN to Madison Square Garden in 1979. But Diller believed strongly in the concept, and so took his fourth-network idea with him when he moved to 20th Century Fox in 1984, where Fox's then freshly installed proprietor, Rupert Murdoch was a more interested listener. Meanwhile, concentrating on hot films, Paramount was met with critical success with the release of The Godfather, based on the popular novel.
However, the television division would be playing catch-up for over a decade after Diller's departure in 1984 before launching its own television network – UPN – in 1995. Lasting eleven years before being merged with The WB network to become The CW in 2006, UPN would feature many of the shows it originally produced for other networks, and would take numerous gambles on series such as Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: Enterprise that would have otherwise either gone direct-to-cable or become first-run syndication to independent stations across the country (as Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: The Next Generation were).
Paramount Pictures was not connected to either Paramount Records (1910s-1935) or ABC-Paramount Records (1955–66) until it purchased the rights to use the name (but not the latter's catalog) in the late 1960s. The Paramount name was used for soundtrack albums and some pop re-issues from the Dot Records catalog which Paramount had acquired in 1958. By 1970, Dot had become an all-country label and in 1974, Paramount sold all of its record holdings to ABC Records, which in turn was sold to MCA (now Universal Music Group) in 1979.
1980–1994: Continuous success
Paramount's successful run of pictures extended into the 1980s and 1990s, generating hits like Airplane!, American Gigolo, Ordinary People, An Officer and a Gentleman, Flashdance, Terms of Endearment, Footloose, Pretty in Pink, Top Gun, "Crocodile" Dundee, Fatal Attraction, Ghost, the Friday the 13th slasher series, as well as Raiders of the Lost Ark and its sequels. Other examples are the Star Trek series and a string of films starring comedian Eddie Murphy like Trading Places, Coming to America, and Beverly Hills Cop and its sequels. While the emphasis was decidedly on the commercial, there were occasional less commercial but more artistic and intellectual efforts like I'm Dancing as Fast as I Can, Atlantic City, Reds, Witness, Children of a Lesser God and The Accused. During this period, responsibility for running the studio passed from Eisner and Katzenberg to Frank Mancuso, Sr. (1984) and Ned Tanen (1984) to Stanley R. Jaffe (1991) and Sherry Lansing (1992). More so than most, Paramount's slate of films included many remakes and television spinoffs; while sometimes commercially successful, there have been few compelling films of the kind that once made Paramount the industry leader.
When Charles Bluhdorn died unexpectedly, his successor Martin Davis dumped all of G+W's industrial, mining, and sugar-growing subsidiaries and refocused the company, renaming it Paramount Communications in 1989. With the influx of cash from the sale of G+W's industrial properties in the mid-1980s, Paramount bought a string of television stations and KECO Entertainment's theme park operations, renaming them Paramount Parks. These parks included Paramount's Great America, Paramount Canada's Wonderland, Paramount's Carowinds, Paramount's Kings Dominion, and Paramount's Kings Island.
In 1993, Sumner Redstone's entertainment conglomerate Viacom made a bid for a merger with Paramount Communications; this quickly escalated into a bidding war with Barry Diller's QVC. But Viacom prevailed, ultimately paying $10 billion for the Paramount holdings. Viacom and Paramount had planned to merge as early as 1989.
Paramount is the last major film studio located in Hollywood proper. When Paramount moved to its present home in 1927, it was in the heart of the film community. Since then, former next-door neighbor RKO closed up shop in 1957; Warner Bros. (whose old Sunset Boulevard studio was sold to Paramount in 1949 as a home for KTLA) moved to Burbank in 1930; Columbia joined Warners in Burbank in 1973 then moved again to Culver City in 1989; and the Pickford-Fairbanks-Goldwyn-United Artists lot, after a lively history, has been turned into a post-production and music-scoring facility for Warners, known simply as "The Lot". For a time the semi-industrial neighborhood around Paramount was in decline, but has now come back. The recently refurbished studio has come to symbolize Hollywood for many visitors, and its studio tour is a popular attraction.
1994–2004: Dolgen/Lansing and "old" Viacom era
During this time period, Paramount Pictures went under the guidance of Jonathan Dolgen, chairman and Sherry Lansing, president. During their administration over Paramount, the studio had an extremely successful period of films with two of Paramount's ten highest grossing films being produced during this period. The most successful of these films, Titanic, a joint production with 20th Century Fox, became the highest grossing film up to that time, grossing over $1.8 billion worldwide. Also during this time, three Paramount Pictures films won the Academy Award for Best Picture; Titanic, Braveheart, and Forrest Gump.
Paramount's most important property, however, was Star Trek. Studio executives had begun to call it "the franchise" in the 1980s due to its reliable revenue, and other studios envied its "untouchable and unduplicatable" success. By 1998 Star Trek TV shows, movies, books, videotapes, and licensing provided so much of the studio's profit that "it is not possible to spend any reasonable amount of time at Paramount and not be aware of [its] presence"; filming for Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine required up to nine of the largest of the studio's 36 sound stages.:49–50,54
In 1995, Viacom and Chris-Craft Industries' United Television launched United Paramount Network (UPN) with Star Trek: Voyager as its flagship series, fulfilling Barry Diller's plan for a Paramount network from 25 years earlier. In 1999, Viacom bought out United Television's interests, and handed responsibility for the start-up network to the newly acquired CBS unit, which Viacom bought in 1999 – an ironic confluence of events as Paramount had once invested in CBS, and Viacom had once been the syndication arm of CBS as well. During this period the studio acquired some 30 TV stations to support the UPN network as well acquiring and merging in the assets of Republic Pictures, Spelling Television and Viacom Television, almost doubling the size of the studio's TV library. The TV division produced the dominant prime time show for the decade in Frasier as well as such long running hits as NCSI and Becker and the dominant prime time magazine show Entertainment Tonight.
During this period, Paramount and its related subsidiaries and affiliates, operating under the name "Viacom Entertainment Group" also included the fourth largest group of theme parks in the United States and Canada which in addition to traditional rides and attractions launched numerous successful location based entertainment units including a long running "Star Trek" attraction at the Las Vegas Hilton. Famous Music – the company's celebrated music publishing arm almost doubled in size and developed artists including Pink, Bush, Green Day as well as catalog favorites including Duke Ellington and Henry Mancini. The Paramount/Viacom licensing group under the leadership of Tom McGrath created the "Cheers" franchise bars and restaurants and a chain of restaurants borrowing from the studio's academy award winning film "Forrest Gump" – The Bubba Gump Shrimp Company. Through the combined efforts of Famous Music and the studio over ten "Broadway" musicals were created including Irving Berlin's White Christmas, Footloose, Saturday Night Fever, Andrew Lloyd Weber's Sunset Boulevard among others. The Company's international arm, United International Pictures (UIP), was the dominant distributor internationally for ten straight years representing Paramount, Universal and MGM. Simon and Schuster became part of the Viacom Entertainment Group emerging as the US' dominant trade book publisher.
In 2002, Paramount, Buena Vista Distribution, 20th Century Fox, Sony Pictures, Universal Studios, and Warner Bros. formed the Digital Cinema Initiatives. Operating under a waiver form the anti-trust law, the studios combined under the leadership of Paramount Chief Operating Officer Tom McGrath to develop technical standards for the eventual introduction of digital film projection – replacing the now 100 year old film technology. DCI was created "to establish and document voluntary specifications for an open architecture for digital cinema that ensures a uniform and high level of technical performance, reliability and quality control." McGrath also headed up Paramount's initiative for the creation and launch of the Blu-ray DVD.
2005: Dissolution of the Viacom Entertainment Group and Paramount
In 2005, Viacom announced the spinoff of CBS into a separate public entity. As part of this spinoff, the Entertainment Group that was led by Dolgen, Lansing and McGrath, was dissolved and Paramount broken up into its separate assets. Famous Music, part of the company since its founding by Jesse Lasky, was sold to Sony Music. The UPN network and its TV stations were transferred to CBS. Paramount itself was broken into two parts and the television production and assets were stripped and made part of CBS. The theme parks group was sold to Cedar Fair in 2006 and renamed the parks by taking out the "Paramount's" prefix. Simon and Schuster also became part of CBS. The company's three chains of movie theaters were divested – Famous Players Theaters, the dominant theater circuit in Canada was sold to its competitor Cineplex Odeon. UCI which dominated the international theater markets consisting of 1,300+ screens in 11 countries was sold to buyout firm Terra Firma. Mann Theaters was slowly divested screen by screen with the world famous "Graumann's Chinese Theater" being sold to a consortium led by Eli Samaha.
The resulting company, approximately 20% of its former size coalesced in 2006 under the leadership of its new CEO, Brad Grey who held the same title as Sherry Lansing despite the much smaller size of the business under his leadership.
2005–present: Paramount today
CBS Corporation/Viacom split
Reflecting in part the troubles of the broadcasting business, in 2005 Viacom wrote off over $18 billion from its radio acquisitions and, early that year, announced that it would split itself in two. The split was completed in January 2006.
With the announcement of the split of Viacom, Dolgen and Lansing were replaced by former television executives Brad Grey and Gail Berman. The Viacom Inc. board split the company into CBS Corporation and a separate company under the Viacom name. The board scheduled the division for the first quarter of 2006. Under the plan, CBS Corp. would comprise CBS and UPN networks, Viacom Television Stations Group, Infinity Broadcasting, Viacom Outdoor, Paramount Television, KingWorld, Showtime, Simon and Schuster, Paramount Parks, and CBS News. The revamped Viacom would include "MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon, BET and several other cable networks as well as the Paramount movie studio". Paramount's home entertainment unit continues to distribute the Paramount TV library through CBS DVD, as both Viacom and CBS Corporation are controlled by Sumner Redstone's National Amusements.
In 2009, CBS stopped using the Paramount name in its series and changed the name of the production arm to CBS Television Studios, eliminating the Paramount name from television, to distance itself from the latter.
On December 11, 2005, The Paramount Motion Pictures Group announced that it had purchased DreamWorks SKG (which was co-founded by former Paramount executive Jeffrey Katzenberg) in a deal worth $1.6 billion. The announcement was made by Brad Grey, chairman and CEO of Paramount Pictures who noted that enhancing Paramount's pipeline of pictures is a "key strategic objective in restoring Paramount's stature as a leader in filmed entertainment." The agreement does not include DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc., the most profitable part of the company that went public the previous year.
Under the deal, Paramount is required to distribute the DreamWorks animated films for a small fee intended only to cover Paramount's costs with no profit to the studio, including the Shrek franchise (and ending for the 2004 installment, Shrek 2). The first film distributed under this deal was Over the Hedge.
The deal closed on February 6, 2006. This acquisition was seen at the time as a stopgap measure as Brad Grey had been unsuccessful in assembling sufficient films for production and distribution and the DreamWorks films would fill the gap.
On October 6, 2008, DreamWorks executives announced that they were leaving Paramount and relaunching an independent DreamWorks. The DreamWorks trademarks remained with DreamWorks Animation when that company was spun off before the Paramount purchase, and DreamWorks Animation transferred the license to the name to the new company.
UIP, Famous Music, and Digital Entertainment
Grey also broke up the famous UIP international distribution company, the most successful international film distributor in history, after a 25-year partnership with Universal Studios and has started up a new international group. As a consequence Paramount fell from No.1 in the international markets to the lowest ranked major studio in 2006 but recovered in 2007.
DreamWorks films, acquired by Paramount but still distributed internationally by Universal, are included in Paramount's market share. Grey also launched a Digital Entertainment division to take advantage of emerging digital distribution technologies. This led to Paramount becoming the second movie studio to sign a deal with Apple Inc. to sell its films through the iTunes Store.
Also, in 2007, Paramount sold another one of its "heritage" units, Famous Music, to Sony/ATV Music Publishing (best known for publishing many songs by The Beatles, and for being co-owned by Michael Jackson), ending a nearly-eight-decade run as a division of Paramount, being the studio's music publishing arm since the period when the entire company went by the name "Famous Players."
In early 2008, Paramount partnered with Los Angeles-based developer FanRocket to make short scenes taken from its film library available to users on Facebook. The application, called VooZoo, allows users to send movie clips to other Facebook users and to post clips on their profile pages. Paramount engineered a similar deal with Makena Technologies to allow users of vMTV and There.com to view and send movie clips.
In March 2010, Paramount founded Insurge Pictures, an independent distributor of "micro budget" films. The distributor planned ten movies with budgets of $100,000 each. The first release was The Devil Inside, a movie with a budget of about US$1 million. In March 2015, following waning box office returns, Paramount shuttered Insurge Pictures and moved its operations to the main studio.
In July 2011, in the wake of critical and box office success of the animated feature, Rango, and the departure of DreamWorks Animation upon completion of their distribution contract in 2012, Paramount announced the formation of a new division, devoted to the creation of animated productions. It marks Paramount's return to having its own animated division for the first time since 1967, when Paramount Cartoon Studios shut down (it was formerly Famous Studios until 1956).
In December 2013, The Walt Disney Studios (via its parent company's purchase of LucasFilm, Ltd. a year earlier) purchased Paramount's remaining distribution and marketing rights to future Indiana Jones films, while Paramount will continue to distribute the first four films for Disney, and will receive "financial participation" from any additional films.
In 2006, Paramount became the parent of DreamWorks SKG. Soros Strategic Partners and Dune Entertainment II soon afterwards acquired controlling interest in the live-action films released through September 16, 2005, the latest film in this package was Just Like Heaven. The remaining live-action films through March 2006 remained under direct Paramount control.
However, Paramount does own distribution (and other ancillary) rights to the Soros/Dune films.
On February 8, 2010, Viacom repurchased Soros' controlling stake in the pre-2005 DreamWorks Pictures library for around $400 million.
Even as DreamWorks switches distribution of live-action films that are not part of existing franchises to Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, Paramount will continue to own the films released before the merger, and the films that Paramount themselves distributed (including sequel rights; such films as Little Fockers will be distributed by Paramount and DreamWorks, since it is a sequel to an existing DreamWorks film – in this case, Meet the Parents and Meet the Fockers, though Paramount will only own international rights to this title, whereas Universal Studios will handle domestic distribution).
As for the DreamWorks Animation library, Paramount owned distribution rights to the pre-2013 library, and their previous distribution deal to future DWA titles expired at the end of 2012 with the last Paramount-distributed feature, Rise of the Guardians. 20th Century Fox now handles distribution on future titles beginning with The Croods, though Paramount's rights to distribute every film released by DreamWorks Animation before 2013 will expire 16 years after each film's initial theatrical release date. However in July 2014, DreamWorks Animation purchased Paramount's distribution rights to the pre-2013 library with DreamWorks Animation's current distributor 20th Century Fox to distribute the library.
The CBS library
Independent company Hollywood Classics now represents Paramount in the theatrical distribution of all the films produced by the various motion picture divisions of CBS over the years, as a result of the Viacom/CBS merger.
Paramount (via CBS Home Entertainment) has outright video distribution to the aforementioned CBS library with few exceptions-for example, the original Twilight Zone DVDs are handled by Image Entertainment. Until 2009, the video rights to My Fair Lady were with original theatrical distributor Warner Bros., under license from CBS (the video license to that film has now reverted to CBS Home Entertainment under Paramount).
The CBS-produced/owned films, unlike other films in Paramount's library, are still distributed by CBS Television Distribution on TV, and not by Trifecta Entertainment & Media, because CBS (or a subdivision) is the copyright holder for these films.
- Paramount Licensing, Inc.
- Paramount Home Media Distribution
- Paramount Digital Entertainment
- Paramount Pictures International
- Paramount Studio Group – physical studio and post production
- The Studios at Paramount – production facilities & lot
- Paramount on Location – production support facilities throughout North America including New York, Vancouver, and Atlanta
- Worldwide Technical Operations – archives, restoration and preservation programs, the mastering and distribution fulfillment services, on-lot post production facilities management
- Paramount Television (revived in March 2013. Old Paramount Television is now CBS Television Studios)
- Worldwide Television Distribution
- Paramount Famous Productions, direct-to-video
- Paramount Parks & Resorts, licensing and design for parks and resorts
- Paramount Motion Picture Group
- Paramount Pictures
- Republic Pictures
Former divisions, subsidiaries, and joint ventures
- Paramount Television Group (now CBS Television Studios)
- Paramount Network Television
- Paramount Domestic Television, now CBS Television Distribution
- United Paramount Network (UPN) – formerly a joint venture with United Television, now part of the CBS/Time Warner joint venture The CW Television Network
- Paramount Stations Group (now CBS Television Stations)
- USA Networks (also including what is now called Syfy) – Paramount owned a stake starting in 1982, 50% owner (with Universal Studios) from 1987 until 1997, when Paramount/Viacom sold their stake to Universal (now part of NBCUniversal)
- Paramount International Television (now CBS Studios International)
- Paramount Parks (Purchased by Cedar Fair Entertainment Company in 2006)
- DW Studios, LLC (also DW Pictures) – defunct, holding film library and rights, principal officers left to recreate DreamWorks as an independent company
- DW Funding LLC – DreamWorks live-action library (pre-09/16/2005; DW Funding, LLC) sold to Soros Strategic Partners and Dune Entertainment II and purchased back in 2010
In March 2012, Paramount licensed their name and logo to a luxury hotel investment group which subsequently named the company Paramount Hotels and Resorts. The investors plan to build 50 hotels throughout the world based on the themes of Hollywood and the California lifestyle. Among the features are private screening rooms and the Paramount library available in the hotel rooms. On April 2013, Paramount Hotels and Dubai-based DAMAC Properties announced the building of the first resort: "DAMAC Towers by Paramount," in Dubai.
- Bad Robot (2006–present)
- Di Bonaventura Pictures
- Disruption Entertainment (2011–present)
- Fake Empire Productions (2011–present)
- Jerry Bruckheimer Films (1983–present)
- The Montecito Picture Company
- Platinum Dunes
- Plan B Entertainment (2005–present)
- Skydance Productions (2010–present)
- Cruise/Wagner Productions (1996–present)
- Amblin Entertainment (1985-present)
- Gary Sanchez Productions (2006–present)
- former distributors deals
The distinctively pyramidal Paramount mountain has been the company's logo since its inception and is the oldest surviving Hollywood film logo. In the sound era, the logo was accompanied by a fanfare called Paramount on Parade after the film of the same name, released in 1930. The words to the fanfare, originally sung in the 1930 film, were "Proud of the crowd that will never be loud, it's Paramount on Parade."
Legend has it that the mountain is based on a doodle made by W. W. Hodkinson during a meeting with Adolph Zukor. It is said to be based on the memories of his childhood in Utah. Some claim that Utah's Ben Lomond is the mountain Hodkinson doodled, and that Peru's Artesonraju is the mountain in the live-action logo, while others claim that the Italian side of Monviso inspired the logo. Some editions of the logo bear a striking resemblance to the Pfeifferhorn, another Wasatch Range peak.
The motion picture logo has gone through many changes over the years:
- The logo began as a somewhat indistinct charcoal rendering of the mountain ringed with superimposed stars. The logo originally had twenty-four stars, as a tribute to the then current system of contracts for actors, since Paramount had twenty-four stars signed at the time.
- In movies of the late 1920s and early 1930s, the number of stars encircling the mountain sometimes varied. As an example, twenty-five stars are seen in the logo displayed at the end of the Marx Brothers film The Cocoanuts (1929), and twenty-three are visible at the beginning of Horse Feathers (1932).
- Starting in 1934 and lasting until 1943, opening Paramount logos that appeared before color cartoons would have a byline at the bottom of the mountain. This was due to Max Fleischer's stereoptical process which placed animated cels in front of three-dimensional backgrounds. From 1934 to 1937, it read "PATENT PENDING FOR SPECIAL PROCESSES USED IN THIS PRODUCTION". Once Max Fleischer received his patent for the process in 1937, the opening byline read "STEREOPTICAL PROCESS AND APPARATUS PATENT NO. 2054414", and was even used on cartoons that did not utilize the process. In addition, starting in 1936, the ending logo would have the byline "in TECHNICOLOR", although some of the late 40's cartoons were produced in either Polacolor or Cinecolor.
- Many of the George Pal Puppetoons of the 1940s would utilize the Paramount "Pie" logo in the opening and ending title cards.
- From 1943 to 1957, the Popeye cartoons would open with the Paramount logo, then a spinning star where such character popped out of. The same effect was used for the Little Lulu and Little Audrey cartoons. For the Noveltoons, the Paramount logo is seen on a jack-in-the-box which pops out and reveals the name of the series, in this case, "Noveltoons". When Paramount started producing feature films in Vistavision in the mid-50's, the logos and credits on new cartoons were "sandwiched" to ensure they would fit on widescreens.
- In 1951, the logo was redesigned as a matte painting created by Jan Domela.
- A newer, more realistic-looking logo debuted in 1953 for Paramount films made in 3D. It was reworked in early-to-mid 1954 for Paramount films made in widescreen process VistaVision. The text VistaVision – Motion Picture High Fidelity was often imposed over the Paramount logo briefly before dissolving into the title sequence. In early 1968, the text "A Paramount Picture/Release" was shortened to "Paramount", and the byline A Gulf+Western Company appeared on the bottom. The logo was given yet another modification in 1974, with the number of stars being reduced to 22, and the Paramount text and Gulf+Western byline appearing in different fonts.
- A stylized version of the mountain was featured in Cecil B. DeMille's The Ten Commandments. The mountain retained its conical shape but with a red granite tone and a more angular summit under a red clouded sky to suggest the appearance of Mount Sinai for this single motion picture. Its circle of stars faded in with the announcement: "Paramount Presents – A Cecil B. DeMille Production."
- In September 1975, the logo was simplified in a shade of blue, adopting the modified design of the 1968 print logo, which was in use for many decades afterward.
- The studio launched an entirely new logo in December 1986 with computer-generated imagery of a lake and stars. This version of the Paramount logo was designed by Dario Campanile and animated by Apogee, Inc; for this logo, the stars would move across the screen into the arc shape instead of it being superimposed over the mountain as it was before. The first movie to use this logo was Children of a Lesser God. When Gulf + Western became Paramount Communications, and continuing until 2002, the Paramount logo would appear first followed by the underline and the byline beneath it. An enhanced version of this logo debuted on June 30, 1999 with South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut.
- In March 2002, an updated logo was introduced in which shooting stars would fall from a night sky to form the arc while the Paramount logo would fly into place between them. An enhanced version of this logo debuted with Iron Man 2 on May 7, 2010. The south col area of Mount Everest became the primary basis. The music is accompanied by Paramount on Parade.
- On December 16, 2011, an updated logo was introduced with animation done by Devastudios, Inc. The new logo includes a surrounding mountain range and the sun shining in the background. Michael Giacchino composed the logo's new fanfare.
Those wishing to visit Paramount can take studio tours, which are offered seven days a week. Reservations are required, and can be made by visiting the tour website. The tour offers a behind-the-scenes look at the current operations of the studio, and what can be seen varies day to day. Most of the buildings on the tour are named for historical Paramount executives or the artists that worked at Paramount over the years. Many of the stars' dressing rooms have been converted into working offices. The stages where Samson and Delilah, Sunset Blvd., White Christmas, Rear Window, Sabrina, Breakfast at Tiffany's, and many other classic films were shot are still in use today. The studio's backlot set, "New York Street", features numerous blocks of facades that depict a number of New York locales: "Washington Square", (where some scenes in The Heiress, starring Olivia de Havilland, were shot) "Brooklyn", "Financial District", and others. Led by a guide on a golf cart, the tour takes approximately two hours.
A few years after the ruling of the United States v. Paramount Pictures, Inc. case in 1948, Music Corporation of America (MCA) approached Paramount offering $50 million for 750 sound feature films released prior to December 1, 1949 with payment to be spread over a period of several years. Paramount saw this as a bargain since the fleeting movie studio saw very little value in its library at the time. To address any anti-trust concerns, MCA set up EMKA, Ltd. as a dummy corporation to sell these films to television. EMKA's/Universal Pictures library includes the five Paramount Marx Brothers films, most of the Bob Hope-Bing Crosby Road to... pictures, and other classics such as Trouble in Paradise, Shanghai Express, She Done Him Wrong, Sullivan's Travels, The Palm Beach Story, For Whom The Bell Tolls, Double Indemnity, The Lost Weekend and The Heiress.
|1||Titanic*||1997||$658,672,302||Distributed internationally by 20th Century Fox Film Corporation.|
|2||Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen||2009||$402,111,870||Distributed internationally by DreamWorks Pictures.|
|3||Transformers: Dark of the Moon||2011||$352,390,543|
|5||Shrek the Third||2007||$322,719,944||Distribution only. Owned and produced by DreamWorks Animation.|
|6||Transformers||2007||$319,246,193||Distributed internationally by DreamWorks Pictures.|
|7||Iron Man||2008||$318,412,101||Owned and produced by Marvel Studios. Paramount sold the rights to Marvel in 2013.|
|8||Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull||2008||$317,101,119|
|9||Iron Man 2||2010||$312,433,331||Owned and produced by Marvel Studios. Paramount sold the rights to Marvel in 2013.|
|11||Raiders of the Lost Ark*||1981||$248,159,971||Later retitled Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark.|
|12||Transformers: Age of Extinction||2014||$245,439,076|
|13||Shrek Forever After||2010||$238,736,787||Distribution only. Owned and produced by DreamWorks Animation.|
|14||Beverly Hills Cop||1984||$234,760,478|
|15||War of the Worlds||2005||$234,280,354||Distributed internationally by DreamWorks Pictures.|
|16||Star Trek Into Darkness||2013||$228,778,661|
|18||How to Train Your Dragon||2010||$217,581,231||Distribution only. Owned and produced by DreamWorks Animation.|
|19||Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted||2012||$216,391,482||Distribution only. Owned and produced by DreamWorks Animation.|
|20||Kung Fu Panda||2008||$215,434,591||Distribution only. Owned and produced by DreamWorks Animation.|
|21||Mission: Impossible II||2000||$215,409,889|
|22||Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol||2011||$209,397,903|
|23||World War Z||2013||$202,359,711|
|24||Monsters vs. Aliens||2009||$198,351,526||Distribution only. Owned and produced by DreamWorks Animation.|
|25||Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade||1989||$197,171,806|
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- List of Paramount executives
- List of Paramount Pictures films
- List of television series produced by Paramount Television
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Paramount Pictures.|
- Official website
- Insurge Pictures division.
- Paramount Pictures at the Internet Movie Database
- Paramount Pictures papers at the Margaret Herrick Library
- Leo Morgan Paramount Publix and Strand Theatre materials, 1926-1947, held by the Billy Rose Theatre Division, New York Public Library for the Performing Arts