Viacom has extended Brad Grey’s contract as Chairman and CEO of Paramount Pictures into 2020, providing some stability at a time of uncertainty at the entertainment giant. A studio insider tells Deadline the deal was completed months ago, though it just became public today.
The renewal comes as Viacom launches efforts to rebuild Paramount, which is expected to account for about 24% of the parent company’s revenues but little of its cash flow. It cut the studio’s slate this year, putting out no major releases in the quarter that ended June 30.
Paramount had 10 releases that generated $562 million at domestic box offices this year up through last weekend, giving it 6.9% of the market — fifth among the six majors. That’s down from the 2014 period, when it had 14 releases generating $828 million for 10.7% of the market.
But CEO Philippe Dauman said in August that “after a tough year,” Paramount is “positioned to grow strongly next year and in the years to come.”
Paramount plans to boost the number of film releases to a target of 15 a year. The studio leans hard on franchises including Mission:Impossible, Star Trek, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, SpongeBob SquarePants and Transformers.
It has high hopes for Daddy’s Home with Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg, Michael Bay-directed 13 Hours, a remake of Ben Hur, Ben Stiller’s Zoolander 2, Brad Pitt’s star-packed The Big Short, the computer animated Monster Trucks and a planned sequel for World War Z.
Meanwhile, Paramount is ramping up its young TV production business. Dauman says he’s “very pleased with the early success of what is a start-up business.” It produces Fox’s Minority Report and has nine shows ordered to production. The CEO also likes its “very low structural overhead” at a time when most production costs can be covered by international distribution deals.
Viacom could use some good news. Its share price has declined more than 37% in 2015, mostly due to investor concerns about the declining ad revenues and ratings at its main pay TV business.
Variety first reported the deal with Grey.