BREAKING: Though no official release has been sent yet, Brad Grey’s 12 year reign at Paramount Pictures has officially ended and Viacom is looking onto the future. Our sister publication Variety went up with what we’ve all heard but hasn’t been confirmed, which is they’ve set a succession committee that will include Grey’s underlings, Par TV exec Amy Powell, business affairs exec Andrew Gumpert, production president Marc Evans and marketing head Megan Colligan. They’ll help Viacom chairman Bob Bakish as he tries to solidify the future of the studio. Bakish has also been negotiating with Grey the terms of his exit, and an official divorce could happen today. The interim committee thing is not a long term solution, rather a band aid to keep the studio running.
The long term play is to make a big hire. “They’re calling us all,” said one of the usual suspects type of big execs that Bakish will be dining with the next few weeks. They’ll clearly go for a big name, someone who has experience running a big studio, who might be able to turn things around. We’ve named the obvious candidates in the last story when it was clear Grey would be surrendering the reins of Paramount
What is interesting is that the next person stepping into Paramount might benefit from what is coming for a studio that two of the nine films up for Best Picture at Sunday’s Oscars, with the Denis Villenueve-directed Arrival and the Denzel Washington-directed Fences. It also has an upcoming slate that shows promise, with the Scarlett Johansson-starrer Ghost in the Shell, the Alex Garland-directed sci-fi pic Annihilation, the Bruce Willis-starrer Death Wish, Alexander Payne-directed Downsizing with Matt Damon, the Darren Aronofsky-directed mother! with Jennifer Lawrence, the Dwayne Johnson-starrer Baywatch, and Transformers: The Last Knight, with another Christopher McQuarrie directing Tom Cruise in another Mission: Impossible.
Grey wanted to move the studio forward, but the problem for Grey was that he picked a bad time to have his worst year, with the studio at the bottom of the heap in 2016, losing $455 million for the fiscal year that ended in September. Sequels didn’t work: Star Trek Beyond, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, Zoolander 2, and Jack Reacher: Never Go Back were way down from previous outings. The year ended with pricey flops Allied, the Robert Zemeckis-directed Brad Pitt-starrer and Monster Trucks, the long gestating family film which drew a write down of $115 million long before it was even released.
This might not even have been noticed last year, given the surreal turbulence that happened at Viacom and the power struggle between Philippe Dauman and Shari Redstone for control of Sumner Redstone’s empire. But the sting of fiscal 2016 set in just as that long struggle ended with Shari Redstone in control. She tapped Bakish to be interim and then permanent chief after the exploratory talks ended that would have fused Redstone’s Viacom with the much healthier CBS. Bakish will move to install a new chairman to lead the studio’s rebound.