In this new day and age of content production with a continued overlap between big-budget releases and streaming services, it is getting harder and harder to distinguish between who does what and whose focus is where. For some studios, they are very much straddling the line of wanting to hit huge numbers at the box office and also develop a number of streaming options to continue hitting that monthly subscriber number. Paramount is one such place with feet on both sides of the aisle.
But a recent shakeup at the top of the Paramount executive ranks is signaling a move much more towards the streaming side of things. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the changing of the guard from Jim Gianopulos to Brian Robbins at the Chairman and CEO level means that the studio is now going all-in on streaming and will begin to distance itself from the major dollar movie theater release.
With blockbuster movies becoming rarer and rarer, typically reserved to Disney/ Marvel and the occasional Warner Bros. flick it makes sense that streaming would become the new normal. This landscape is precipitating a need to have a viable and profitable streaming arm with less and less reliance on the tentpole movie franchise in the theaters. Now, Paramount still has this with Mission: Impossible included in the ranks, but they aren’t going to be focused on this going forward. Moving Brian Robbins into the head position after he’s spent years bringing shows to Paramount+ and other streaming services on that side of the company, means this is where the studio is headed. And THR specifically mentions that Robbins and Cruise haven’t interacted much in the past. Significant? Maybe, only because it means the studio is less concerned about these relationships.
While a move from one studio to executive to another doesn’t necessarily tell the whole story of the trajectory of a company, this one seems pretty darn clear. Four years ago he became the President of Paramount Players which was a division of the parent company and began working closely with a number of other Paramount properties like Nickelodeon, MTV, Comedy Central. But according to the THR reporting, he was also given “green light” power at Paramount+ for upcoming projects.
This is a considerable move because Paramount continues to build out its streaming catalog. Originally branded as CBS All Access, the streamer has been adding tons of new content over the years. They are continuing to build out Star Trek content with Picard and Discovery currents running and Strange New Worlds on the way as well. Plus series like the Kevin Costner-led Yellowstone have garnered significant attention with the show headed out into franchise form with spin-offs coming. These are just a couple of examples of what the streamer has in the works. The list is very long with original programming coming down the pike. Again, Paramount owns a number of other studios working on content across all age ranges.
While big-budget movies are still very much viable, and Paramount has had a few of them over the last couple of years (Sonic the Hedgehog and Quiet Place are other examples), they likely aren’t a solid long-term strategy. Making even a modest pivot now in terms of leadership only serves to point where the rest of the industry is going. With ongoing debates about theatrical windows and contracts tied to box office revenue likely going the way of the dinosaur, studios like Paramount are correctly served by moving into more into the streaming side of things. Brian Robbins is a sign of this for Paramount.