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Emma Watts is out at Paramount.
The longtime studio veteran was brought to the Hollywood lot by Jim Gianopulos in the summer of 2020 as the president of the motion picture group, having previously worked with him at 20th Century Fox. Watts’ exit now follows the ouster of Gianopulos as the CEO and chairman of Paramount Pictures at the top of September.
Nickelodeon chief Brian Robbins was tapped by ViacomCBS to run the century-old studio, with the belief being that the studio will pull back on its major theatrical offerings and be refocused to service more features to streaming service Paramount+. Sources note that, prior to the shake-up, many of the studio’s rank-and-file believed that Watts, who has a long history on big-budgeted features and dealing with A-list talent, would succeed Gianopulos in the post.
In her role, Watts oversaw film operations at Paramount and Paramount Players, the latter being the studio label founded by Robbins that he later left to run the company’s massive children’s network. Under Watts and Gianopulos, several key executives were hired, including Jeremy Kramer, who now runs Paramount Players, and Daria Cercek and Michael Ireland, who were named co-presidents of production at the top of this year.
Prior to Paramount, Watts served as the longtime president of production at 20th Century Fox. She continued on with the company, later renamed 20th Century Studios, after its acquisition by Disney, one of the few top Fox execs to survive the Disney/Fox tumult. Watts’ impressive resume includes the X-Men series of films, including the massively popular Deadpool, and the Avatar movies. Her short time at Paramount was charged with helping Gianopulos shepherd the studio’s legacy franchises, like Tom Cruise’s Mission: Impossible films and rebooting the Transformers series.
Paramount executives Daria Cercek and Mike Ireland, who were among her proteges, will become the new co-heads of the studio in the wake of her exit. Cercek and Ireland have been co-presidents of film since January 2021.
In a memo to staff addressing the changes, Robbins lauded Watts for being “incredibly talented” but didn’t disclose the circumstances surrounding her departure. He said that Paramount has “benefited greatly during her time here.”
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