Jim Gianopulos is leaving Paramount as Chairman and CEO, Deadline has confirmed. A report in the Wall Street Journal said Brian Robbins, the head of ViacomCBS Inc.’s Nickelodeon kids TV empire, will take over Gianopulos’ position as the head of Paramount Pictures. His appointment is imminent. Robbins, who goes from the star of Head of the Class to head of Paramount, is a bright and progressive executive who will likely lead Paramount to greater emphasis on product for its streaming service.
Gianopulos, 70, took the reigns of Paramount in March 2017 after a long run at Fox where he oversaw 20th Century Fox, Fox Searchlight, Fox 2000, Fox Animation/Blue Sky Studios, Fox International Productions and Fox Home Entertainment. Gianopulos arrived at Paramount after the 11-year tenure of Brad Grey and Rob Moore, latter of whom served as Vice Chairman and departed in Sept. 2016. Gianopulos arrived at a Melrose lot that was in tatters from a previous administration that once had distribution rights to the Marvel hits Kevin Feige was churning out, only to see that deal walk when topper Philippe Daumann declined to buy Marvel, the deal that transformed Disney. Paramount also let get away Indiana Jones and its relationship with Lucasfilm, and the studio bought DreamWorks only to see clashes lead to Paramount dropping that.
When Gianopulos came in, the hope was he would do for Paramount what Alan Horn brought to Disney, which was to bring calm and cohesion as the studio tried to move past blemishes such as the expensive Monster Trucks and Ben-Hur box and a fast-fatiguing franchises such as Star Trek and Transformers. It would be a time of rebuild for Gianopulos. A bright spot for the Chairman and CEO is that coming out of the pandemic, Paramount was the only major studio to see an uptick in their summer grosses this year vs. 2019 with $220.6M, +17% thanks to A Quiet Place Part II. The year before the exec known in Hollywood as Jim G came in, the studio lost $450 million. This year is heading toward significant profit, a swing of over $850 million. Gianopulos built a strong exec team including Emma Watts, Marc Weinstock, Mary Daily and Nicole Clemens. Paramount TV built up to 20+ shows in production/on air, including 13 Reasons Why, Jack Ryan, Defending Jacob, with upcoming series including The Offer and American Gigolo for Paramount+ and Showtime. An overall deal with Yellowstone’s Taylor Sheridan will yield a bounty of shows for the streaming service, including the prequel 1883 and the Jeremy Renner-starrer Mayor of Kingstown. On the film side, franchises have been solidified with A Quiet Place making money and more sequels, Sonic the Hedgehod, Missin: Impossible and Top Gun, and a repositioning of the Transformers with Bumblebee, a recovery from its money losing predecessor. It also reestablished Paramount Animation with the SpongeBob movie and Paw Patrol. He also made profitable third party streaming deals during the pandemic on Without Remorse, Coming 2 America, and established short windows for Paramount+ on the animated films.
There had been rumors about Gianopulos for awhile, and word was it had to do with his emphasis on filmmaker relationship and reverence for theatrical. Word was Shari Redstone wasn’t thrilled with the move of Top Gun: Maverick from November 19 to Memorial Day weekend 2022, and Mission: Impossible from Memorial Day to September 30, 2022. This was right before the Marvel film Shang-Chi became a surprise box office success. Robbins was known to have the ear of Redstone, and she sparked to his vision of the studio’s future. He will continue to run Nickelodeon, and Kids and Family Entertainment for the studio and Paramount+.
Robbins was the star of Head of the Class and has always been looked at as an innovative, progressive executive and producer. His oversight at ViacomCBS includes all strategy, creative and business operations for the company’s kids and young-adult focused brands including Nickelodeon, Nick at Nite, Nick Jr., TeenNick, Nicktoons, Nickelodeon Studios and Awesomeness. Few are shocked by Robbins’ ascension here as it is buzzed he has the ear of ViacomCBS Chair Shari Redstone, who was a reported proponent for the change-up in the executive suite per WSJ.
It is expected that Gianopulos will stay aboard to assist with the transition of the leadership team.
We’ll update you with details soon.
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