Turtles, Zoolander Are Bringing Down Paramount

By November 12, 2016
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Observers felt that Paramount Pictures was going to have a bad year. In fact, even Paramount’s parent company Viacom was worried, at least once trying to sell off a huge chunk of the company.

benhur-inset111216But now there’s some actual evidence after the century-old film studio reported a $137 million loss in the past three months alone. Although Paramount released both Star Trek: Beyond and its Ben-Hur remake during that time period, it seems most of the loss comes from a movie the studio hasn’t even released yet, according to the Los Angeles Times. That movie, Monster Trucks, comes out in January, and Paramount already is anticipating taking a $115 million hit from the Rob Lowe film.

That brings the studio’s total losses for the year to $445 million.

Paramount has released 14 movies so far in 2016, according to The Numbers, with Beyond topping them all at a $158.8 million gross. They lag behind five other studios in terms of top box office for the year, with just half the gross of Universal Pictures .. which is in fourth place with $1.2 billion.

Disney, of course, is solidly in first with $2.2 billion, reaching that mark for the second year in the row. The only positive news for Paramount is that it’s just $65 million away from besting 2015. The downside, however, is that last year’s $697.1 million take was the lowest the studio has done since 2004.

In fact, 2015 was the first time at least since 1995 Paramount didn’t sell at least 100 million tickets for its films, with just 82.7 million. So far this year, according to The Numbers, Paramount has sold just 75.2 million – far off its peak of 248 million tickets sold in 2011.

beyond111216Beyond accounted for 25 percent of Paramount’s total box office this year domestically. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows was a distant second with $82.1 million, or about half of Star Trek’s North American take. Jack Reacher: Never Go Back bowed on Oct. 21, the Tom Cruise vehicle since making an unimpressive $52.4 million.

But Arrival, which stars Jeremy Renner and Amy Adams, actually had a solid Friday night as it opened this weekend. The film earned $9.4 million on its opening night, playing against the second week of strong competition like Doctor Strange and Trolls, which took the top two spots on the first night.

What can help Paramount? The rumored re-merger with CBS Corp. certainly wouldn’t hurt. And outgoing chief executive Thomas Dooley says he’s impatient for another Transformers film to power Paramount like the past installments have. Transformers: The Last Knight, however, isn’t expected until next June.

The good news for Star Trek fans, however, is that it isn’t Capt. Kirk and Spock taking down the ship. Instead, Dooley said, it’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and the box office bomb Zoolander 2.

“Those films had losses that were outsized, and really created the hole in the bucket that we’ve seen.”

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Michael Hinman

Michael Hinman

Managing Editor at GeekNation
Michael began what has become nearly 19 years of entertainment reporting as the founder of SyFy Portal, which would become Airlock Alpha after he sold the SyFy brand to NBC Universal. He's based out of New York City where he is the editor of a Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper in the Bronx.