DEVELOPING: There have rumors of a shakeup coming at Paramount, with Film Group President Adam Goodman in the cross hairs. Usually, where there’s smoke there’s fire. Inside sources close to the studio acknowledge that the current creative organization is being reviewed. Goodman has a year left on his contract, and if something is to happen, it will happen quick. I’ve also heard that the studio has been talking to people potentially to take the top production spot.
Goodman has been in the post for years. He was a high-level production exec at DreamWorks and stayed behind when that studio exited Paramount and left a lot of its development projects including the lucrative Transformers franchise. If there is a criticism about Paramount, it’s that the studio hasn’t been generating enough product. Honestly, I don’t love delving in speculation about an executive’s job, but the drum beat on this one is too loud to ignore.
There has been a lot of rumoring about Mary Parent, who has the stellar track record but is producing a lot of projects and passed. The list of candidates includes Scott Stuber (who gets approached every time one of these jobs opens), and those passed over for the top job at Sony Pictures, but those rumors seem like knee-jerk speculation at this point. There is also the possibility of Marc Evans, the guy behind Goodman. Maybe they give him a shot.
Ironically, all this happens at a time when Paramount was busy getting ready to make a bunch of movies. They include War Dogs with producer Jerry Bruckheimer, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2, Marco Polo, G.I. Joe 3, another installment of The Ring in 3D, The Big Short with Adam McKay and Brad Pitt, the Michael Bay-directed Benghazi pic 13 Hours and the Angelina Jolie-directed Africa, also with Pitt. And The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out Of Water just rebooted another franchise. The studio has had a strong rate of success, even if it was selective in its greenlight choices.
Some of this exit talk comes down to Goodman’s relationships in the community — and internally, he fractured his relationship with David Ellison, whose Skydance Pictures is the principal co-financier of all of Paramount’s event films but was hard pressed to get Paramount to make one of its homegrown projects (Skydance insiders deny any friction) — and some of it stems from chairman Brad Grey’s desire to have higher-quality movies. The studio should have had a stake in last year’s Best Picture winner 12 Years A Slave, when Paramount-based Plan B was supposed to show it to Paramount but instead brought it to New Regency. That led to high acrimony and Plan B moved its deal over to New Regency. That must have stung, considering Pitt and Grey were former partners before Grey took the top spot at Paramount. The studio also let go of its distribution deal with Marvel, whose product moved to Disney, and it let lapse its distribution deal with DreamWorks Animation. Studio also watched marketing maven Josh Greenstein move to Sony Pictures.
On the plus side, Paramount rebooted Star Trek and is working on the third installment; it also has the Mission: Impossible, Paranormal Activity and Transformers franchises. Goodman didn’t launch Star Trek, G.I. Joe or Mission: Impossible, but fed them, and under his watch Paramount launched the latest hit SpongeBob and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which is being sequelized. Interstellar also was a success, and Goodman deserves props for hanging in there on World War Z, when the last third of the film had to be reshot. It was a giant hit, and they have been working on a sequel.
The urge to be more prolific has much to do with positioning for when Sumner Redstone passes away. There are a lot of pieces moving on the board.
Nothing is official, and Goodman is still in the post. We’ll follow this as developments arise.