It’s been nothing but prosperity for Paramount Pictures since Brad Grey took over. And so there’s no surprise that the studio is going to keep him right where he is.
Grey, who among other things pushed for the successful revival of the Star Trek franchise under J.J. Abrams, extended his deal with Paramount to lead at least through 2017. Grey took over right as Viacom was splitting up its film and television units to create Paramount and CBS Television as separate companies. He also decided to undo efforts to have Emmy-winning writer Erik Jendresen write a Star Trek film prequel, and instead lured Abrams in to create a reboot featuring Kirk, Spock and McCoy.
Grey started producing television in 1986 with talent manager Bernie Brillstein to create Brillstein-Grey Entertainment, launching with the early Fox hit “It’s Garry Shandling’s Show.” He would gain prominence in later years for his company’s work on HBO hits like “The Larry Sanders Show” and “The Sopranos,” and would survive a later legal batter with Garry Shandling who claimed Grey took writers off his programs to use elsewhere without compensating the comedian. The two would settle out of court.
Since 1995, Paramount has made $22.5 billion at the box office, according to The Numbers. However, that finishes fourth behind Warner Bros. ($28.6 billion), Walt Disney Pictures ($26.8 billion) and Sony Pictures ($24.3 billion). Yet, Paramount has surged in recent years.
In 2009, Paramount finished third in box office with $1.46 billion behind Warner Bros. ($2.13 billion) and Twentieth Century Fox ($1.461 billion). Yet, it achieved that through far fewer movies, averaging $91.3 million. Warner Bros. averaged $59.2 million while Fox averaged $63.5 million.
Paramount moved up to second in 2010 with $1.72 billion, behind the $1.88 billion from Warner Bros. Yet again, Paramount averaged more success with its films, averaging $96 million each while Warner Bros. averaged $58.6 million.
This year, through last weekend, Paramount is clinging to the box office lead with just a few weeks left. It has grossed $1.74 billion, ahead of the $1.66 billion from Warner Bros. Although Warner earned a box office-leading $381 million from “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2,” Paramount continues to dominate on average box office for each picture. Paramount is grabbing $82.8 million per release while Warner Bros. is managing with $44.8 million.
Grey’s goal in the next five years is to remove its dependency on partnerships with other studios to create hits, and instead developing or continuing its own ideas. That will come into clear view as the Marvel deal slowly fades, as well as jobs with Dreamworks.
Paramount countered the departure of Dreamworks animation by creating its own animated film, “Rango.” While domestic box office fell short of the $135 million budget for the film, the $123 million take showed that Paramount could create CGI products without Dreamworks.