When entertainment is paramount, many people turn to Paramount Pictures Corporation. A subsidiary of media firm Viacom, the company produces and distributes films through Paramount Pictures (Tranformers: Dark of the Moon) and Paramount Vantage (Capitalism: A Love Story). It maintains the Paramount Pictures library of some 3,500 films, including classic hits from the Star Trek, Godfather, and Indiana Jones series, and releases about a dozen new titles annually. Paramount Pictures distributes movies on video and DVD through Paramount Home Entertainment. The studio ceased to own DreamWorks in 2008. Paramount was founded as Famous Players Film Company by Adolph Zukor in 1912; it was acquired by Viacom in 1994.
Paramount is focused on producing and ditributing profitable movies through an annual slate that includes a mix of a few key major-budget movies called "tentpoles" (Transformers) along with smaller, more modest-budget titles (Super 8). The studio is also capitalizing on distribution agreements with other studios. While Paramount no longer distributes DreamWorks movies, it does maintain the rights to to distribute the highly lucrative animated films that come out of DreamWorks Animation, producer of the Shrek movies. Paramount has the rights to distribute DreamWorks Animation films. It also had the rights to distribute movies from Marvel through 2011, but those distribution rights transfered to Marvel owner Disney in 2012.
Such agreements led to Paramount being crowned the number one studio in terms of box office returns for the summer of 2011. That season it released DreamWorks Animation's Kung Fu Panda 2, which earned $165 million in the US and nearly three times as much in international ticket sales; all total it earned about $20 million more than the original Kung Fu Panda. Other successes that summer included two hits from Marvel: Captain America: The First Avenger and Thor. Meanwhile, the Paramount-produced Transformers: Dark of the Moon earned more than $1 billion and was one of the top two grossing films of the summer (along with Warner Bros.' Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.)
The previous year the studio distributed the superhero flick Iron Man 2, which earned more than $133 million in its opening weekend. Though it didn't set a new record, the movie also helped Paramount garner the summer of 2010 box office prize, giving the studio the biggest share of the market that season. Paramount found another success at the end of the year: its remake of True Grit, from arty filmmaking pair the Coen brothers, cost only $38 million to produce, and made about $95 million at the box office by early 2011. The strength of these titles propelled the studio to the #2 position (behind Warner Bros.) for 2010 in terms of market share.
In other areas of the business, the company was affected by a decline in the home entertainment market as consumers reduced spending on DVDs. In response, in 2010 Paramount cut more than 50 jobs at its home entertainment and digital production businesses. It is hoping to make up for lost revenues via the rental market, and in 2010 the company extended its revenue sharing license agreement with Redbox Automated Retail. Under the agreement, DVDs from Paramount are available for rent at approximately 22,000 Redbox kiosks throughout the US.
The company underwent a change in 2008 when DreamWorks left Paramount. (Paramount had acquired the high-profile and last remaining big independent player DreamWorks in a deal worth $1.6 billion in 2006.) The DreamWorks-Paramount partnership ended in part due to a rocky relationship between DreamWorks principals Steven Spielberg and Stacey Snider and executives at Paramount and Viacom. The break also resulted in the end of Paramount's distribution deal with DreamWorks. – less