company_name = Paramount Pictures Corporation
company_type = Subsidiary
parent = Paramount Motion Pictures Group
Gulf+Western(1966-1989) Paramount Communications(1989-1994)
Old Viacom (now
CBS Corporation) (1994-2006)
Hollywood, Los Angeles, California
Brad Grey, Chairman and CEO Frederick D. Huntsberry, COO
revenue = profit$3.0 billion USD (2005)
operating_income = loss$62.1 million USD (2005)
homepage = [http://www.paramount.com/ www.paramount.com]
Paramount Pictures Corporation is an American motion picture production and
distribution company, based in Hollywood, California. Founded in 1912, it is the oldest running movie studio in Hollywood, beating Universal Studiosby a month. Paramount is owned by media conglomerate Viacom.
Paramount Pictures can trace its beginnings to the creation in May, 1912, of the
Famous Players Film Company. Founder Hungarian-born Adolph Zukor, who had been an early investor in nickelodeons, saw that movies appealed mainly to working-class immigrants. With partners Daniel Frohmanand Charles Frohmanhe planned to offer feature-length films that would appeal to the middle class by featuring the leading theatrical players of the time (leading to the slogan "famous players in famous plays"). By mid-1913, Famous Players had completed five films, and Zukor was on his way to success.
That same year, another aspiring producer,
Jesse L. Lasky, opened his Lasky Feature Play Company with money borrowed from his brother-in-law, Samuel Goldfish, later known as Samuel Goldwyn. The Lasky company hired as their first employee a stage director with virtually no film experience, Cecil B. DeMille, who would find a suitable location site in Hollywood, near Los Angeles, for his first film, "The Squaw Man".
Beginning in 1914, both Lasky and Famous Players released their films through a start-up company, Paramount Pictures Corporation, organized early that year by a Utah theatre owner,
W. W. Hodkinson, who had bought and merged several smaller firms. Paramount was the first successful nation-wide distributor; until this time, films were sold on a state-wide or regional basis. Not only was this inefficient, but it had proved costly to film producers.
Soon the ambitious Zukor, unused to taking a secondary role, began courting Hodkinson and Lasky. In 1916, Zukor maneuvered a three-way merger of his Famous Players, the Lasky Company, and Paramount. The new company,
Famous Players-Lasky Corporation, grew quickly, with Lasky and his partners Goldfish and DeMille running the production side, Hiram Abrams in charge of distribution, and Zukor making great plans. With only the exhibitor-owned First Nationalas a rival, Famous Players-Lasky and its "Paramount Pictures" soon dominated the business.
Zukor believed in stars — after all, he had begun by offering "Famous Players in Famous Plays," as his first slogan put it. He signed and developed many of the leading early stars, among them
Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Gloria Swanson, Rudolph Valentino, and Wallace Reid. With so many important players, Paramount was able to introduce "block booking," which meant that an exhibitor who wanted a particular star's films had to buy a year's worth of other Paramount productions. It was this system that gave Paramount a leading position in the 1920s and 1930s, but which led the government to pursue it on anti-trust grounds for more than twenty years.
The driving force behind Paramount's rise was Zukor. All through the teens and twenties, he built a mighty theatrical chain of nearly 2,000 screens, ran two production studios, and became an early investor in radio, taking a 50% interest in the new Columbia Broadcasting System in 1928. By acquiring the successful
Balaban & Katzchain in 1926, he gained the services of both Barney Balaban, who became Paramount's president, and Sam Katz, who ran the Paramount-Publix theatre chain. Zukor also hired independent producer B. P. Schulberg, an unerring eye for new talent, to run the West Coast studio. In 1927, Famous Players-Lasky took on the name Paramount-Famous Lasky Corporation. Three years later, because of the importance of the Publix theater chain, it was later known as Paramount-Publix Corporation.
Also in 1927, Paramount began releasing "
Inkwell Imps" animated cartoons produced by Max & Dave Fleischer's Fleischer Studiosin New York City. The Fleischers, veterans in the animation industry, would prove to be among the few animation producers capable of challenging the prominence of Walt Disney.
Eventually Zukor shed most of his early partners; the Frohman brothers, Hodkinson and Goldfish/Goldwyn were out by 1917 while Lasky hung on until 1932, when, blamed for the near-collapse of Paramount in the depression years, he too was tossed out. Zukor's over-expansion and use of overvalued Paramount stock for purchases led the company into receivership in 1933. A bank-mandated reorganization team, led by
John Hertzand Otto Kahnkept the company intact, and, miraculously, kept Zukor on. In 1935, Paramount Publix went bankrupt. in 1936, Barney Balaban became president, and Zukor was bumped up to chairman of the board. In this role, Zukor reorganized the company as Paramount Pictures, Inc. and was able to successfully bring the studio out of bankruptcy.
As always, Paramount films continued to emphasize stars; in the 1920s there were Swanson, Valentino, and
Clara Bow. By the 1930s, talkies brought in a range of powerful new draws: Marlene Dietrich, Mae West, Gary Cooper, Claudette Colbert, the Marx Brothers, Dorothy Lamour, Carole Lombard, Bing Crosby, the band leader Shep Fieldsand the famous Argentine tango singer Carlos Gardelamong them. In this period Paramount can truly be described as a movie factory, turning out sixty and seventy pictures a year. Such were the benefits of having a huge theater chain to fill, and of block booking to persuade other chains to go along. In 1933, Mae Westwould also add greatly to Paramount's success with her movies " She Done Him Wrong" and " I'm No Angel" [http://www.filmsite.org/shed.html] [http://www.filmsite.org/imno.html] . However, the sex appeal West gave in these movies would also lead to the enforcement of the Production Code, as the newly formed organization the Catholic Legion of Decencythreatened a boycott if it wasn't enforced [http://www.mae-west.org/old/mw.bio.html] .
Paramount cartoons produced by Fleischer Studios continued to be successful, with characters such as
Betty Boopand Popeye the Sailorbecoming widely successful. One Fleischer series, " Screen Songs", featured live-action music stars under contract to Paramount hosting sing-alongs of popular songs. However, a huge blow to Fleischer Studios occurred in 1934, after the Production Code was enforced and Betty Boop's popularity declined as she was forced to have a more tame personality and wear a longer skirt. [http://www.geocities.com/Hollywood/6773/?200726] . The animation studio would rebound with Popeye, and in 1935, polls showed that Popeye was even more popular than Mickey Mouse [http://forums.goldenagecartoons.com/showthread.php?t=2907] . After an unsuccessful expansion into feature films, as well as the fact that Max and Dave Fleischer were no longer speaking to one another, Fleischer Studios was acquired by Paramount, who renamed the operation Famous Studiosand continued cartoon production until 1967.
In 1940, Paramount agreed to a government-instituted consent decree: block booking and "pre-selling" (the practice of collecting up-front money for films not yet in production) would end. Immediately Paramount cut back on production, from sixty-plus pictures to a more modest twenty annually in the war years. Still, with more new stars (like
Bob Hope, Alan Ladd, Veronica Lake, Paulette Goddard, and Betty Hutton), and with war-time attendance at astronomical numbers, Paramount and the other integrated studio-theatre combines made more money than ever. At this, the Federal Trade Commissionand the Justice Department decided to reopen their case against the five integrated studios. Paramount also had a monopoly over Detroit movie theaters through subsidiary company United Detroit Theaters as well [http://www.cobbles.com/simpp_archive/united-detroit_paramount-history.htm] . This led to the Supreme Court decision United States v. Paramount Pictures, Inc.(1948) holding that movie studios could not also own movie theater chains. This decision broke up Adolph Zukor's amazing creation and effectively brought an end to the classic Hollywood studio system.
The 1950s to the 1970s
As movie attendance declined after
World War II, Paramount and the others struggled to keep the audience. Hovering nearby were the FTC and the Justice Department, still pursuing restraint-of-trade allegations. This case finally came before the Supreme Court as U.S. vs. Paramount Pictures, et al., and in May 1948, the court agreed with the government, finding restraint of competition, and calling for the separation of production and exhibition. Paramount Pictures Inc. was split in two. Paramount Pictures Corporation was formed to be the production distribution company, with the 1,500-screen theater chain handed to the new United Paramount Theaterson December 31, 1949. Leonard Goldenson, who had headed the chain since 1938, remained as the new company's president. The Balaban and Katz theatre division was spun off with UPT. The Balaban and Katz Trademark is now owned by the Balaban and Katz Historical Foundation. Cash-rich and controlling prime downtown real estate, Goldenson began looking for investments; barred from film-making, he acquired the struggling ABC in February, 1953.
Paramount Pictures had been an early backer of television, launching experimental stations in 1939 in
Los Angeles(later to become KTLA) and Chicago(which was sold off as part of UPT and eventually became WBBM-TV). It was also an early investor in the pioneer DuMont Laboratoriesand through that, the DuMont Television Network, but because of anti-trust concerns after the 1948 ruling, proved to be a timid and obstructionist partner, refusing to aid DuMont as it sank in the mid-1950s.Spadoni, M. (June 2003). [http://www.televisionheaven.co.uk/dumont.htm DuMont: America's First "Fourth Network"] . Television Heaven. Retrieved on December 28, 2006.] McDowell, W. (March 30, 2001). [http://list.msu.edu/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind0109b&L=aejmc&T=0&P=9926 Remembering the DuMont Network: A Case Study Approach] . College of Mass Communication and Media Arts.Southern Illinois University. Retrieved on December 28, 2006.]
With the loss of the theater chain, Paramount Pictures went into a decline, cutting studio-backed production, releasing its contract players, and making production deals with independents. By the mid-1950s, all the great names were gone; only C.B. DeMille, associated with Paramount since 1913, kept making pictures in the grand old style. Despite Paramount's losses, DeMille would, however, give the studio some relief and create his most successful film at Paramount, a 1956 remake of his 1923 film The Ten Commandments [http://www.filmsite.org/tenc.html] . Like some other studios, Paramount saw little value in its film library (see below for more info on the early Paramount library). DeMille died in 1959.
By the early 1960s Paramount's future was doubtful. The high-risk movie business was wobbly; the theater chain was long gone; investments in DuMont and in early pay-television came to nothing. Even the flagship Paramount building in Times Square was sold to raise cash, as was KTLA (sold to
Gene Autryin 1964 for a then-phenomenal $12.5 million). Founding father Adolph Zukor (born in 1873) was still chairman emeritus; he referred to chairman Barney Balaban (born 1888) as 'the boy'. Such aged leadership was incapable of keeping up with the changing times, and in 1966, a sinking Paramount was sold to Charles Bluhdorn's industrial conglomerate Gulf and Western Industries. Bluhdorn immediately put his stamp on the studio, installing a virtually unknown producer, Robert Evans, as head of production. Despite some rough times, Evans held the job for eight years, restoring Paramount's reputation for commercial success with "The Odd Couple", "Love Story", "Chinatown", "Rosemary's Baby" and " The Godfather".
Gulf and Western Industries also bought the neighboring Desilu television studio (once the lot of
RKO Pictures) from Lucille Ballin 1967. Using Desilu's established shows like ', ' and " Mannix" as a foot in the door at the networks, the newly-reincorporated Paramount Televisioneventually became known as a specialist in half-hour situation comedies.
In 1970, Paramount teamed with
Universal Studiosto form Cinema International Corporation, a new company that would distribute films by the two studios outside the United States. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayerwould become a partner in the mid 1970s. Both Paramount and CIC entered the video market with Paramount Home Video (now Paramount Home Entertainment) and CIC Video, respectively.
Robert Evans quit as head of production in 1974; his successor
Richard Sylbert, was too literary and tasteful for G+W's Bluhdorn. By 1976, a new, television-trained team was in place: Barry Diller, and his 'killer-Dillers,' associates Michael Eisner, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Dawn Steeland Don Simpson. The specialty now was simpler, 'high concept' pictures like " Saturday Night Fever", and "Grease". With his television background, Diller kept pitching an idea of his to the board: a fourth commercial network. But the board, and Bluhdorn, wouldn't bite. Neither would Bluhdorn's successor, Martin Davis. Diller took his fourth-network idea with him when he moved to Twentieth Century-Foxin 1984, where the new proprietor, Rupert Murdoch, was a more interested listener.
Paramount Pictures was unconnected to
Paramount Records, until it purchased the rights to use Paramount Records' name (but not its catalogue) in the late 1960s. The Paramount name was used for soundtrack albums and some pop re-issues from the Dot Recordscatalogue. Paramount had acquired the pop-oriented Dot in 1958, but by 1970 Dot had become an all-country label [http://www.bsnpubs.com/dot/paramount.html] . In 1974, Paramount sold all of its record holdings to ABC Records, which in turn was sold to MCA in 1978.
From the 1980s to 1994
Paramount's successful run of pictures extended into the 1980s and 1990s, generating hits like "
Flashdance", " Footloose", " Fatal Attraction", the "Friday the 13th" slasher series, as well as " Raiders of the Lost Ark" and its sequels. Other examples are the " Star Trek" series and a string of films starring comedian Eddie Murphy(such as " Beverly Hills Cop"). While the emphasis was decidedly on the commercial, there were occasional less commercial but more artistic and intellectual efforts like " I'm Dancing as Fast as I Can", "The Elephant Man", "Atlantic City", and " Terms of Endearment". During this period responsibility for running the studio passed from Eisner and Katzenberg to Don Simpson to Stanley Jaffeand Sherry Lansing. More so than most, Paramount's slate of films included many remakes and television spinoffs; while sometimes commercially successful, there have been few compelling films of the kind that once made Paramount the industry leader.
In 1981, Cinema International Corporation was reorganized as
United International Pictures. This was necessary because MGM had merged with United Artistswhich had its own international distribution unit, but MGM was not allowed to leave the venture at the time (they finally did in 2001, switching international distribution to 20th Century Fox).
When Charles Bluhdorn died unexpectedly, his successor Martin Davis dumped all of G+W's industrial, mining, and sugar-growing subsidiaries and refocused the company, renaming it
Paramount Communicationsin 1989. With the influx of cash from the sale of G+W's industrial properties in the mid-1980s, Paramount bought a string of television stations and KECO Entertainment's theme park operations, renaming them Paramount Parks.
Sumner Redstone's entertainment conglomerate Viacom made a bid for Paramount; this quickly escalated into a bidding war with Barry Diller. But Viacom prevailed, ultimately paying $10 billion for the Paramount holdings.
Paramount is the last major film studio located in Hollywood proper. When Paramount moved to its present home in 1927, it was in the heart of the film community. Since then, former next-door neighbor
RKOclosed up shop in 1957; Warner Bros.(whose old Sunset Boulevard studio was sold to Paramount in 1949 as a home for KTLA) moved to Burbank in 1930; Columbia joined Warners in Burbank in 1973 then moved again to Culver City in 1989; and the Pickford-Fairbanks-Goldwyn-United Artists lot, after a lively history, has been turned into a post-productionand music-scoring facility for Warners, known simply as "The Lot". For a time the semi-industrial neighborhood around Paramount was in decline, but has now come back. The recently refurbished studio has come to symbolize Hollywood for many visitors, and its studio touris a popular attraction.
1994-2004: The Dolgen/Lansing years
The most successful period for Paramount in recent times was the administration of Jonathan Dolgen, chairman, and
Sherry Lansing, president. Under Dolgen and Lansing the studio had almost a ten year unbroken track record of success including 6 of Paramount's ten highest grossing films (as of 2007) and the highest grossing film of all time, "Titanic" (which, along with " Braveheart", was co-produced by 20th Century Fox). The studio won Best Picture Academy Awards for the films "Titanic, Braveheart" and "Forrest Gump," while also releasing such films as "Saving Private Ryan" (outside the US, DreamWorkshandled American distribution) and the hugely successful series of "Mission Impossible" films. Dolgen and Lansing also developed the 2005 hit "War of the Worlds" and 2007's "Transformers" films (with Dreamworks) and revived the "Indiana Jones" series by signing Steven Spielbergand Harrison Fordto produce and star in "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull", released in 2008. Meanwhile, Paramount Television developed and produced the record-breaking " Frasier", a spin-off of their earlier '80s hit, " Cheers".
In 1995, Viacom and
Chris-Craft Industries' United Televisionlaunched United Paramount Network(UPN), fulfilling Barry Diller's 1970s plan for a Paramount network. In 1999, Viacom bought out United Television's interests, and handed responsibility for the start-up network to the newly acquired CBSunit, which Viacom bought in 1999 - an ironic confluence of events as Paramount had once invested in CBS, and Viacom had once been the syndication arm of CBS as well.
During the Dolgen/Lansing administration Paramount tripled the size of its TV library through the acquisitions of Spelling TV, Republic and Worldvision; doubled the profits of their music publishing division Famous Music, expanded the international theater group UCI to 13 foreign countries and took the Famous Players theater circuit in Canada from 25% to 53% market share. Paramount's theme park division grew to become the fifth highest attended group in the country with five consecutive years of attendance growth from 2000 (when the unit was placed under
Tom McGrath) to 2005.
Dolgen and Lansing also introduced the
DVD, led the formation of the Digital Cinema Initiativestandards group for the future of digital film exhibition and launched the first ever online movie distribution company, Movielink. Dolgen is credited with pioneering the use of off-balance-sheetfinancing for movies while at Columbia Pictures and at Paramount his team (led by Tom McGrath) secured over $4 billion in financings this way.
2005 to present
CBS Corporation/Viacom split
Reflecting in part the troubles of the broadcasting business, in 2005 Viacom wrote off over $28 billion from its radio acquisitions and, early that year, announced that it would split itself in two. The split was completed in January 2006.
The CBS television and radio networks, the Infinity radio-station chain (now called
CBS Radio), the Paramount Television production unit (known as CBS Paramount (Network) Television) and the network UPN(replaced by The CW Television Network, co-owned with rival Time Warner's Warner Bros.) are part of CBS Corporation, as was Paramount Parks prior to its June 2006 sale by CBS to the Cedar Fair Entertainment Company. CBS Corporation also merged its television distribution arms, KingWorld, CBS Paramount International Television and CBS Paramount Television, into CBS Television Distributionin 2006.
Paramount Pictures is now lumped in with
MTV, BET, and other highly profitable channels owned by the new Viacom.
With the announcement of the split of Viacom, Dolgen and Lansing were replaced by former television executives Brad Grey and Gail Berman. The decision was made to split Viacom into two companies, which in turn led to a dismantling of the Paramount Studio/Paramount TV infrastructure. The current Paramount is about one-quarter the size it was under Dolgen and Lansing and consists only of the movie studio. The famed Paramount Television studio was made part of CBS in the split. The remaining businesses were sold off or parceled out to other operating groups. Paramount's home entertainment unit continues to distribute the Paramount TV library through CBS DVD, as both Viacom and CBS Corporation are controlled by
December 11, 2005, Paramount announced that it had purchased DreamWorks SKG (which was co-founded by former Paramount executive Jeffrey Katzenberg) in a deal worth $1.6 billion. The announcement was made by Brad Grey, chairman and CEO of Paramount Pictures, who noted that enhancing Paramount's pipeline of pictures is a "key strategic objective in restoring Paramount's stature as a leader in filmed entertainment." The agreement doesn't include DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc., the most profitable part of the company that went public last year.
Under the deal, Paramount is required to distribute the DreamWorks animated films for a small fee intended only to cover Paramount's out of pocket costs with no profit to the studio, including the "
Shrek" franchise (and ending for the 2004 installment, " Shrek 2"). The first film distributed under this deal is "Over the Hedge".
The deal closed on February 6, 2006. This acquisition was seen at the time as a stopgap measure as Brad Grey had been unsuccessful in assembling sufficient films for production and distribution and the DreamWorks films would fill the gap.
DreamWorks and Paramount are now parting ways. [ [http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/06/business/media/06dreamworks.html?ref=business DreamWorks Executives Sever Ties With Paramount to Form a New Company] ]
UIP, Famous Music and Digital Entertainment
Grey also broke up the famous UIP international distribution company, the most successful international film distributor in history, after a 25-year partnership with Universal Studios and has started up a new international group. As a consequence Paramount fell from #1 in the international markets to the lowest ranked major studio in 2006 but recovered in 2007 if the Dreamworks films, acquired by Paramount, are included in Paramount's market share.
Grey has also launched a Digital Entertainment division to take advantage of emerging digital distribution technologies. This led to Paramount becoming the 2nd movie studio to sign a deal with Apple to sell its films through the iTunes store. They also signed an exclusive agreement with the failed HD-DVD consortium and subsequently gave up the guarantees they had received and will now release in the Blu Ray format.
Also, in 2007, Paramount sold another one of its "heritage" units,
Famous Music, to Sony-ATV Music Publishing(best known for publishing many songs by The Beatles), ending a nearly-eight decade run as a division of Paramount, being the studio's music publishing arm since the period when the entire company went by the name "Famous Players."
This inexplicable sale is considered in the industry a sign of the emerging role of Philippe Daumann, Viacom's CEO since 2006, whose lack of knowledge of the movie, TV and music industries and consequent preference for cable TV drives the company's strategy.
Paramount Home Entertainment
Paramount Home Entertainment (formerly "Paramount Home Video" and "Paramount Video") is the division of Paramount Pictures dealing with
home videoand was founded in 1976.
PHE distributes films by Paramount (under its own label) and
DreamWorks(under the DreamWorks Pictures Home Entertainment label), shows from MTV Networks(under the MTV DVD, Nickelodeon DVD, Nickelodeon Movies DVD, Comedy Central DVD and Spike DVD labels), PBS (under the PBS Home Videolabel), Showtime(under its own label), and CBS-owned programs (under the CBS Home Entertainmentlabel) on DVD.
PHE have developed a well-known trademark, by giving their Special Edition/Director's Cut editions different names rather than the usual "Special Edition," or "Director's Edition". Paramount Home Entertainment gives them different names such as , , and .
Internationally, PHE holds the DVD rights to several shows on
HBO. PHE also distributes in Germany the DVD releases of films distributed theatrically by Prokino Filmverleih.
As Paramount Home Video, the company once distributed several Miramax releases on video - the video rights to some of these films (such as "") are still owned by Paramount. [ [http://www.paramount.com/paramount.php?area=home_entertainment :: Paramount Pictures :: ] ]
Recently, PHE launched a direct-to-video label, Paramount Famous Productions (with the "Famous" part of the name a throwback to the days when the company was called Famous Players).
HD DVD & Blu-ray support
Paramount brands the majority of its HD content under the label 'Paramount High Definition' which is seen both on the title box cover and as an in-movie opening. Films from Paramount subsidiaries such as
Nickelodeon Moviesand MTV Filmsas well as from sister studio DreamWorks SKGuse no special branding, Paramount Vantage(another subsidiary) releases only select titles under the Paramount High Definition banner such as Babel.
In October 2005, Paramount announced that it would be supporting the HD video format
Blu-ray Discin addition to rival format HD DVD, becoming the first studio to release on both formats. [ [http://www.engadget.com/2005/10/03/paramount-says-yes-to-both-blu-ray-and-hd-dvd/ Paramount says yes to both Blu-ray and HD DVD - Engadget ] ] Its first four HD DVD releases came in July 2006, [ [http://hddvd.highdefdigest.com/releasedates_historical.html Historical HD DVD Release Dates | High Def Digest ] ] and it released four titles on Blu-ray two months later. [ [http://bluray.highdefdigest.com/releasedates_historical.html Historical Blu-ray Release Dates | High Def Digest ] ] In August 2007, Paramount (along with DreamWorks SKGand DreamWorks Animation) announced their exclusive support for HD DVD.cite web|url=http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/21/technology/21disney.html?ei=5088&en=d4e1f285e2f41437&ex=1345348800&adxnnl=1&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&adxnnlx=1187698143-B5wO3L/F+4r1NyAsum87vQ|title=Two Studios to Support HD DVD Over Rival|publisher=New York Times|accessdate=2007-08-21|date= August 21 2007] However, when other studios eventually dropped HD DVD and players for the technology stopped being manufactured, Paramount switched to Blu-ray. In May 2008, it released 3 titles on Blu-ray and continues to release its high-definition discs in that format exclusively. [ [http://www.engadgethd.com/2008/05/19/blu-ray-releases-on-may-20th-2008/ Blu-ray releases on May 20th, 2008 - Engadget HD ] ]
The Paramount library
Through a series of mergers and acquisitions, many of Paramount's early cartoons, shorts, and feature films are owned by numerous entities.
In 1955, Paramount acquired
Frank Capra's production company, Liberty Films, which produced only 2 films in the late 1940s: " It's a Wonderful Life", released originally by RKO Radio Pictures, and "State of the Union", released originally by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
Around that same time, as mentioned before, Paramount saw little value in its library, and decided to sell off its back catalog.
The Paramount cartoons and shorts went to various television distributors, with
U.M.&M. T.V. Corp.acquiring the majority of the cartoons and live action short subjects made before 1951. Some lesser known features were included in this deal as well, as was " It's a Wonderful Life". However, the Popeyecartoons were sold to Associated Artists Productions, and the Superman cartoons went to Motion Pictures for Television, producers of the Superman television series. U.M.&M. was later sold to National Telefilm Associates(or NTA). NTA changed its name to Republic Pictures(which was previously the name of a minor film studio, whose backlog had been sold to NTA) in 1984, and was sold to Viacom in 1999, hence all the material sold to U.M.&M. would return to Paramount.
The Popeye cartoons passed on to
United Artistsafter its purchase of a.a.p., then to MGM after they purchased UA. After Ted Turnerfailed in an attempt to buy MGM/UA in 1986, he settled for ownership of the library, which included the a.a.p. material. Turner Entertainment, the holding company for Turner's film library, would later be sold to Time Warner. Turner technically holds the rights to the Popeye cartoons today, but sales and distribution is in the hands of Warner Bros. Entertainment. WB also owns Superman's publisher, DC Comics, and although the Superman cartoons are now in the public domain, WB owns the original film elements.
The rest of the cartoons made from 1950-1962, were sold to
Harvey Comicsand are now owned by Classic Media. Except for the Superman cartoons and the features sold to MCA (to end up with Universal), most television prints of these films have had their titles refilmed to remove most traces of their connection to Paramount (The original copyright lines were left intact on Popeye cartoons). The Popeye cartoons have been restored for DVD release with the original Paramount titles.
When the talent agency
Music Corporation of America(better known as MCA), then wielding major influence on Paramount policy, offered $50 million for 750 pre-1949 features (with payment to be spread over many years), a cash-strapped Paramount thought it had made the best possible deal. To address anti-trust concerns, MCA set up a separate company, EMKA, Ltd., to peddle these films to television. The deal included such notable Paramount films as the early Marx Brothersfilms, most of the Bob Hope- Bing Crosby"Road" pictures, and such Oscar contenders as "Double Indemnity", "The Lost Weekend", and " The Heiress". MCA later admitted that over the next forty years it took in more than a billion dollars in rentals of these supposedly "worthless" pictures. MCA later purchased the US branch of Decca Records, which owned Universal Studios(now a part of NBC Universal), and thus Universal now owns these films, though EMKA continues to hold the copyright.
Several other feature films ended up in Republic Pictures's possession, yet others had been retained by Paramount due to other rights issues (such as "
The Miracle of Morgan's Creek"). As for Paramount's silent features, some still are under Paramount ownership -- for example, 1927's "Wings", the first "Best Picture" Academy Awardwinner -- but many others are either lost or in the public domain. Also, one additional pre-1950 film, the 1931 version of "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde", was sold to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1941 who filmed a remake that same year - this film is also now owned by WB/Turner Entertainment.
Rights to some of Paramount's films from 1950 onward would also change hands. Most notably, the rights to five Paramount films directed by
Alfred Hitchcock-- " Rear Window", " The Trouble with Harry", "The Man Who Knew Too Much", "Vertigo" and "Psycho" -- eventually reverted to ownership by the director himself with the exception of "Psycho", which was sold directly to Universal in 1968. Following Hitchcock's death, Universal eventually acquired the rights to the four other films in 1983 from the Hitchcock estate (which is overseen by his daughter, Patricia). However, one Hichcock film, "To Catch A Thief", is still under Paramount's ownership.
The later Bob Hope films originally released by Paramount (including "
The Seven Little Foys" and " The Lemon Drop Kid") are now co-owned by Sony Pictures Televisionand FremantleMedia, both successors-in-interest to a joint venture called Colex Enterprises, which had consisted of respective predecessor companies Columbia Pictures Televisionand LBS Communications.
A number of films merely distributed by Paramount would also end up with other companies - for example, the 1971 film "
Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory" was sold to Warner Bros. in 1977 after Paramount showed little faith in the film, which did poorly upon original release. WB also owns the rights to several films originally distributed by Paramount that were produced by Lorimar Productions, which was sold to WB in 1989. Some other films from 1950 onward went into the public domain as well.
Paramount's famous association with legendary comedian Jerry Lewis, which included "
The Nutty Professor" films among others ended in the '70s and the rights to these films were given back to Lewis. as a consequence, the hit remakes starring Eddie Murphy were released by Universal Pictures. This reversion to Jerry Lewis resulted from a promise made by then-Paramount CEO Barney Balaban who gratuitously offered to give the rights back to Lewis as a birthday present. Paramount, however, has retained full distribution rights to the Lewis films.
Balaban, consistent with his other decisions to sell off rights and dismantle Paramount's library, was of the opinion that there was no future economic value to "old" movies. This "strategy" of gradual dismantling Paramount's assets and library has continued under current Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman who not only split the company in half and gave the television library and distribution rights to the feature films to CBS, but also sold off the Company's legendary music library, Famous Music.
In the 1970s, Paramount acquired the rights to the Frank Capra film "
Broadway Bill", which was originally released by Columbia Pictures. Paramount had remade the film as "Riding High" in 1950. Then in 2004, Paramount bought all worldwide rights to the original 1975 version of "The Stepford Wives" (also released by Columbia), in connection with the release of the remake.
Paramount owns DVD rights to many films produced by
Full Moon Entertainment, due to a deal made with the company years before. Paramount also owns DVD rights to several films released by Miramax Filmsprior to that firm's acquisition by Disney in 1993, also a result of a deal.
Paramount now represents independent company
Hollywood Classicsin the theatrical distribution of all the films produced by the various motion picture divisions of CBSover the years, as a result of the Viacom/CBS merger. This also includes US rights to the 1951 film " The African Queen", originally distributed by United Artists(the international rights are with Granada International). Paramount (via CBS DVD) has outright video distribution to the aforementioned CBS library with few exceptions--for example, the original "Twilight Zone" DVDs are handled by Image Entertainment, while the video rights to "My Fair Lady" are now with original theatrical distributor Warner Bros., both above titles under license from CBS.
As for distribution of the material Paramount itself still owns, it has been split in half, with Paramount themselves owning theatrical rights, while what became
CBS Paramount Televisionhandles television distribution (under CBS Television Distribution).
In early 2008, Paramount partnered with Los Angeles-based developer
FanRocketto make short scenes taken from its film library available to users on Makena Technologiesto allow users of vMTVand There.comto view and send movie clips. [ [http://www.usatoday.com/life/movies/2008-04-03-2435038588_x.htm Paramount to open virtual movie vault] ]
The distinctively pyramidal Paramount mountain has been the company's logo since its inception and is the oldest surviving Hollywood film logo. Legend has it that the mountain is based on a doodle made by
W. W. Hodkinsonduring a meeting with Adolph Zukor. It is said to be based on the memories of his childhood in Utah. Some claim that Utah's Ben Lomond is the mountain Hodkinson doodled, and that Peru's Artesonraju[ [http://www.summitpost.org/mountain/rock/150268/artesonraju.html SummitPost - Artesonraju - Climbing, Hiking & Mountaineering ] ] is the mountain in the live-action logo.
The logo began as a somewhat indistinct charcoal rendering of the mountain ringed with superimposed stars. The logo originally had twenty-four stars, as a tribute to the then current system of contracts for actors, since Paramount had twenty-four stars signed at the time. In 1952, the logo was redesigned as a
matte painting. The current mountain style debuted in 1954. In 1974 the logo was simplified, adopting the design of the then-current television version, and the number of stars was changed to twenty-two; this version of the logo is still in use as Paramount's current print logo. The visual logo was replaced in 1987, Paramount's 75th Anniversary, by a version created by Apogee, Inc. with a computer generatedlake and stars. For Paramount's 90th anniversary in 2002, a new, completely computer-generated logo was created. [ [http://www.paramount.com/filmpreservation/history_logo.htm Paramount Film Preservation ] ] [ [http://hollywoodlostandfound.net/stories/studiologos/page5.html Hollywood Lost and Found - Studio Logos - Paramount ] ] This current visual opening to Paramount titles usually has no sound, occasionally sound from the film may play in the final seconds of the opening. Occasionally, however; the fanfare used since 1975 (and on home video releases since 1987) is heard during the opening; one instance of this is the 2004 film "Mean Girls". A very rare opening fanfare is used on the 2005 remake of "The Longest Yard".
The logo has sometimes been incorporated into a film. In the beginning of "
Raiders of the Lost Ark", the logo dissolves into a shot of a silhouetted mountain peak, subtitled simply "South America", to begin the first scene of the film. The same idea would be incorporated into the beginnings of " Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" (the mountain on a gong in Club Obi-Wan), " Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" (the mountain turns into a cliff in Utah) and " Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" (a pile of dirt where a gopher lives that is crushed by a moving truck). Also, the logo (with the opening notes of "Mountain Town" playing over the sequence) dissolves into an opening shot in the animated film ', turning into a mountain in the cartoon's animation style. As well as in " The Core", the camera zooms down and goes to the core of the mountain. And in " Four Brothers", there is snow falling on top of the mountain (with Jefferson Airplane's "Somebody to Love" as background music). During the opening credits of " Coming to America", the camera flies past the mountain, over foothills and into the jungle where the fictional palace of Zamunda is located. Another variation is in the movie " Scrooged" with the normal Paramount logo but with the Paramount font and the stars as half-tint, but it flies past the mountain quickly, to go to the star just in time for the opening credits, and it also has a spooky-like Christmas music playing which resembles the theme song for the movie. Also, in ', the Paramount logo animates backwards, appearing fully formed, with the Viacom byline disappearing and the stars flying backwards through the word "Paramount" and disappearing into the sky as the opening credits of the film begin.There is an even more direct self-reference in " Road to Utopia", a 1946 Paramount picture. Bing and Bob are riding along on a dogsled, and they see a mountain in the distance. Bob says, "There it is, bread and butter!" Bing says, "That's just a mountain." Cut to the mountain, and the circle of stars winks in around it, identifying it as the Paramount logo. Bob says to Bing, "It may be just a mountain to you, but it's 'bread and butter' to me!"
A similar self-reference appears in the 1951
Popeyecartoon "Alpine for You". At the end of this cartoon, Popeye punches Blutoand he lands on the peak of a mountain top which then sprouts stars to create the Paramount logo. [http://popeyeanimators.blogspot.com/2007/10/george-germanetti.html]
Not long before the United Paramount Network (UPN) was merged with The WB to form the CW Network, there were plans to re-brand UPN as The Paramount Network, featuring a stylized mountain/stars logo to identify the newly-named network with the studio, but the plans were scrapped. In contrast, UPN's initial logo from its January 1995 launch featured its initials in geometric shapes. The "U" (for "United") was in a circle, the "P" ("Paramount") in a triangle, and the "N" ("Network") in a square, with the "P" triangle being a nod to the Paramount mountain.
Those wishing to visit Paramount can take daily studio tours. The tours operate Monday through Friday. Reservations are required, and can be made by calling the studio. Most of the buildings are named for historical Paramount executives or the many great artists that worked at Paramount over the years. Many of the legendary stars' dressing rooms are still standing today, converted into working offices. The stages where "Samson and Delilah, Sunset Blvd.", "White Christmas", "
Rear Window", "Sabrina", " Breakfast at Tiffany's", and many other classic films were shot are still in use today. The studio's massive remaining backlot set, "New York Street," features numerous blocks of facades that depict a number of New York locales: "Washington Square," (where " The Heiress", starring Olivia de Havilland, was shot) "Harlem," "Financial District," and others.
List of Paramount Pictures films
List of television series produced by Paramount Television
Notes on sources
* Berg, A. Scott. "Goldwyn". New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1989.
* DeMille, Cecil B. "Autobiography". Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1959.
* Eames, John Douglas, with additional text by Robert Abele. "The Paramount Story: The Complete History of the Studio and Its Films". New York: Simon & Schuster, 2002.
* Evans, Robert. "The Kid Stays in the Picture". New York: Hyperion Press, 1994.
* Gabler, Neal. "An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood". New York: Crown Publishers, 1988.
* Lasky, Jesse L. with Don Weldon, "I Blow My Own Horn". Garden City NY: Doubleday, 1957.
* Mordden, Ethan. "The Hollywood Studios". New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1988.
* Schatz, Thomas. "The Genius of the System." New York: Pantheon, 1988.
* Sklar, Robert. "Movie-Made America". New York: Vintage, 1989.
* Zukor, Adolph, with Dale Kramer. "The Public Is Never Wrong: The Autobiography of Adolph Zukor." New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1953.
* [http://www.paramount.com/ Official website]
* [http://www.paramountsucks.com/ Opinion Site]
*bcdb2|path=cartoons/Paramount_Pictures/|title=Paramount Pictures Animation
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