Paramount Bets Big on Streaming as Disney Goes All In on Theatres

Paramount Bets Big on Streaming as Disney Goes All In on Theatres
Photo: Frazer Harrison / Staff, Getty Images

Paramount’s top executive, James Gianopulos, was ousted on Monday as part of a large-scale reorganisation effort that will see more of the iconic studio’s resources devoted to making original content for its streaming service, Paramount+.

As part of the shakeup, ViacomCBS — the parent company that launched Paramount+ in March 2021 from the scraps of its former streaming service, CBS All Access — announced a brand new management team and operating structure, which it said will better position the studio to create more content for Paramount+ and the company’s various other streaming platforms and focus less on big theatrical releases.

“The moves we’re making today will build on Paramount’s strong momentum, ensuring it continues to engage audiences at scale while embracing viewers’ evolving tastes and habits,” Bob Bakish, the chief executive of ViacomCBS, said in a statement Monday.

According to Viacom, Brian Robbins, who previously ran the company’s children’s television division, will succeed Gianopulos as chief executive of Paramount Pictures.

One person familiar with Viacom’s strategy told Fox Business that the reshuffling will likely mean that the number of theatrical releases Paramount puts out in a given year is reduced by about half (in the past, the studio is said to have targeted about a dozen theatrical releases annually). On the TV side of things, Paramount Television Studios will also be doubling down on content for streaming, with the division putting a heavier emphasis on creating shows that are exclusive to Paramount+ rather than funnelling content into the Netflix and Apple TV+ pipeline, as it has previously done.

Interestingly, the announcement that Paramount will be diverting its resources toward streaming releases comes just days after Disney announced that it plans to double down on theatrical releases for the remainder of 2021. That decision comes after more than a year of heavy reliance on so-called “day and date” releases, during which Disney premiered many of its much-hyped releases simultaneously in theatres and its streaming platform, Disney+.

“Following the tremendous box office success of our summer films which included five of the top eight domestic releases of the year, we are excited to update our theatrical plans for the remainder of 2021,” Kareem Daniel, chairman of Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution, said in a statement announcing the decision. “As confidence in moviegoing continues to improve, we look forward to entertaining audiences in theatres.”