Paramount Pictures could be in the process of making its biggest change yet – the man at the top.
Brad Grey, who has led Paramount since 2005, is on his way out, according to a report by the Los Angeles Times. It follows months of speculation and years of poor box office returns for what was once one of Hollywood’s major studio giants.
While Grey managed the studio in more prosperous times – including the launch of the Transformers film franchise as well as what many consider to be a very successful reboot of the Star Trek – things have not gone well for Paramount at all in more recent years.
Last year, the studio ranked sixth among the big studios, according to The Numbers, with $843.7 million domestically, compared to just under $3 billion from the Walt Disney Co. In fact, the last time Paramount finished above sixth place among the studios was in 2011, when it earned the top spot with a tad shy less than $2 billion.
Back then, however, Paramount was still involved with some of Marvel’s properties like Captain America and Thor. It also had Transformers: Dark of the Moon which finished second only to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 (and not by much).
A lot has changed since then. Paramount left the Marvel game, and there hasn’t been a new Transformers film since 2014 (although Transformers: The Last Knight is due in June). Even Star Trek has struggled, with last year’s Star Trek: Beyond underperforming both domestically and internationally, but still finishing as the studio’s top film of 2016.
Even this year has had a dismal start for Paramount. Despite having nine films in circulation through the first six weeks of the year, the studio has managed just $142.7 million, or $15.9 million. Universal Studios, on the other hand – an early leader at the box office – already has put $329.9 million in the bank on just five films. That represents just under $66 million per film.
There probably couldn’t be a better time to have Grey depart than right now. Paramount isn’t expected to release another film until Ghost in the Shell opens March 31. And a number of projects are in the works at the studio that might need a fresh approach.
Grey has typically found success following him. Ever since producing a Frank Sinatra concert when he was just 20, Grey has introduced the entertainment world to a number of its stars, including Bob Saget and the rise of Garry Shandling.
Shandling, however, would later sue Grey complaining that he was taking writers away from the comedian’s projects, and offering them deals that Shandling himself was not benefitting from. The suit was settled out of court.
He also won two Emmys as a producer, both for the hit HBO series The Sopranos.
Robert Bakish, the new president and chief executive of Paramount’s parent, Viacom, recently told investors in the company Paramount would focus more on films with “clear ties” to some of the company’s other outlets, including MTV and Nickelodeon, the Times reported.
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