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15 December 2011

Paramount Pictures Tops At Global Box Office, by Greg Tingle


Paramount Pictures have enjoyed a fantastic year, both in Australia, as well as in the United States and other markets.

In the states they totally dominated the box office and is tipped to knock off the current global leader Warner Brothers. Paramount's studio has enjoyed more success distributing films via expiring partnerships with Marvel Entertainment / Marvel Studios and Stephen Spielberg's DreamWorks Animation than it has had creating its own in-house franchises.

Let's see... there was “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” and “Paranormal Activity 3,” and these contributed heavily to Paramount's bottom line.

In 2011, Paramount has fielded nine films that have crossed the $100 million barrier in U.S ticket sales, including 2010’s “True Grit,” which snatched the majority of its $250 million worldwide gross in this calendar year.

With $1.73 billion at the U.S box office thus far and two tentpoles in for the end of the year, "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol" and Spielberg's "The Adventures of Tintin," Paramount will surely end Warner Brothers' three-year reign at the U.S box office.

And with $2.84 billion in international revenue and $4.6 billion in global receipts to date, Paramount Pictures will also end Warner's international and worldwide leading streaks.

"Going into the summer, we certainly felt like we had a number of big tentpole movies, and on balance, they all delivered,” said Don Harris, Paramount's president of domestic (U.S) theatrical distribution. “They all opened at high numbers."

But get this. There's an imminent departure of partners Marvel and DreamWorks Animation, the team behind such recent winners as “Thor,” "Captain America: The First Avenger," “Kung Fu Panda 2” and "Puss in Boots."

Combined, those films comprised four of Paramount's top five grossing movies this year.

Paramount gets distribution fees from DreamWorks Animation and Marvel, but it doesn’t own the rights to the superhero and family films.

Paramount's deal to distribute Marvel films has ended, and its deal with DreamWorks Animation expires in 2012. Though Paramount received an 8 percent distribution fee for its efforts with the two studios, the departure of Marvel and DreamWorks Animation will take a big chunk out of the studio’s market share.

Emboldened by the average success of “Rango” ($245 million), Paramount recently launched its own animation division with an eye toward owning the family films it distributes outright. It expects to release its first film through via the new arm in 2014.

The DreamWorks deal was relatively low-risk and good money.

Paramount appears to believe hat after a number of years of serving as a distribution house for other companies, it has developed enough of its own intellectual property to move forward without the comic book based company and the animation studio.

It's hoping that Pixar whiz Brad Bird (“The Incredibles”) can reinvigorate its “Mission: Impossible” franchise after 2006’s disappointing third installment, and it already successfully rebooted the wilting “Star Trek” franchise. A sequel to its hit 2009 "Trek" film is due out in two years.

"Transformers” - "Dark of the Moon" grossed $1.1 billion worldwide and was more positively embraced than its predecessor.

Paramount Pictures has enjoyed a burst of lower budget successes, adding to their whale size film portfolio.

Created for a cost of a modest $13 million, the studio’s Justin Bieber concert film “Never Say Never,” took in nearly $100 million worldwide. Likewise, “Paranormal Activity 3” continued the ultra-low budget series’ knack for healthy profit margins. Produced for a tiny $5 million, the haunted house film clocked up $201.9 million worldwide.

Almost everything Paramount Pictures touched turned to gold. The big write-off would be "Hugo", with a budget of $170 million and grossing just $33 million globally. Let it be noted that Paramount only distributed the film and this means that the dip falls on the head of producer Graham King.

The remake of '80s dance film “Footloose” failed to bring in audiences. The $24 million film snatched a $62 million worldwide gross, which is well below par for Paramount.

What's in Paramount's future? Paramount appears unlikely to duplicate its record breaking success next year at the box office. The studio expects big things for its zombie flick "World War Z" with Brad Pitt and “G.I. Joe: Retaliation,” but appears that's not comic book films in the works to excel this years numbers.

Take note that in the coming year more of the films that Paramount Pictures releases are owned by them. This means that the studio will be able to keep more of the profits for themselves, but that appears to be a higher risk strategy than the one they employed this year.

Paramount will survive, no doubt, but it may be more of a stock market - roller-coaster type ride than the relatively smooth sailing they enjoyed over the past 12 months.

See you at the movies.


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