After about 10 days of negotiations, Jim Gianopulos is getting closer to a deal to run Paramount Pictures. The former chairman of 20th Century Fox had emerged as the front-runner to run Paramount earlier this month. Gianopulos, who has also been considered a candidate for the Sony top job and the Legendary Entertainment post, has been in negotiations with Viacom for the post almost exclusively. At issue was getting greenlight capability on any budget over $75M; anything beyond that he was told that he would have to go to Viacom’s Bob Bakish and Shari Redstone for approval. That now is not an issue as the parent company has loosened the reins a bit.
It is known that Viacom had been wanting to do a one-two punch announcement with the head of the studio and the creative head but that is not to be. Gianopulos is expected to go into the studio and assess the strengths and weaknesses of the current crew and then make a decision. The executive started his long career in entertainment at Paramount so the job would take him back into the studio fold, a homecoming.
There was a hope from talent around town that Jeff Robinov would take the job after Mike De Luca passed, but that doesn’t seem to be a possibility anymore. There are a new crop of names arising now for the creative post including prolific producer Lorenzo Di Bonaventura (already at Paramount), Mark Vahradian (who works with Di Bonaventura and was formerly at Disney), former Warner Bros.’ executive Lynn Harris and Mary Parent who was willing to work with Jim G had he taken the Legendary job. But it is all speculation at this point.
Gianopulos, who rose up through the ranks at 20th Century Fox through international distribution to head the studio, had both marketing and distribution reporting to him and enjoyed 16 years atop that studio. If the deal goes though, it should make Viacom shareholders hopeful in that the studio would no longer be a rudderless ship.
Viacom and Paramount have both gone through major upheavals after a boardroom fight that ended in the ouster of Philippe Dauman from Viacom and then continued into Paramount when its vice-chair Rob Moore and then chairman both exited after the studio had suffered quarter after quarter in the red.
Viacom’s Shari Redstone took control with Bakish and has put a priority on rebuilding Viacom, implementing a new philosophy of combining efforts across all company labels. After Grey exited, Viacom helped pull together an interim committee to run the studio and also shore up the company with shareholders.
Deadline was also told last week and this that the Chinese money deal with Huahua announced while Grey was still there caught other Chinese executives involved in that deal by surprise. And the Chinese have since had trouble putting together a syndicate to follow-through on that. We were told that Viacom execs had meetings with the Chinese just recently.
According to a high level source with knowledge of what was expected to be a $1 billion, three-year commitment to pump money into the studio for film production, the deal never made. He told us: “They won’t tell you this, but they couldn’t syndicate the deal.”
However, one insider at one of the Chinese companies involved in the deal told Deadline that there were no road bumps and it’s just business as usual. However, it is known that Paramount has yet to see any funding on that particular deal.
Right now at Paramount it’s pretty much slim pickins in terms of projects in production. There is Daddy’s Home 2 readying and the latest in the Transformers‘ franchise from Michael Bay and then the next Mission: Impossible picture starring Tom Cruise. Ghost in the Shell comes out in 10 days and they have Baywatch readying for a May release. But the once mighty Paramount’s release slate has been and is very skeletal now so there is much work to be done.
Deadline has been reporting Gianopulos’ pending coronation for weeks now and our sister publication was up first with an update that it is near.