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Infinite, a sci-fi thriller starring Mark Wahlberg and Chiwetel Ejiofor and directed by Antoine Fuqua for the conglomerate’s Paramount Pictures, will bypass a theatrical release and debut directly on the streamer in the U.S. in late June, CEO Bob Bakish announced on Thursday’s ViacomCBS first-quarter earnings conference call.
ViacomCBS is following the suit of other major studios that are trying to promote their streaming services by sending new movies straight to streaming, although the company has previously stressed that it continues to support a robust theatrical release for many of its biggest titles, at least for six weeks. Infinite, like many other films, was initially supposed to open on the big screen in 2020 but was waylaid by the pandemic. Bakish said Infinite would “create a lot of noise — I have seen the film, it’s a fun film. People love Mark Wahlberg.”
The company did not immediately detail the international distribution plan for Infinite.
Bakish also touted a planned expansion of Paramount+’s film catalog this summer, along with a planned “Mountain of Movies” advertising campaign.
“Turning to movies where we are poised to dramatically enhance the scale of our offering,” Bakish said. “In fact, we will shortly kick off a ‘Mountain of Movies’ marketing campaign, where we will highlight the thousands of new movies we are adding to Paramount+, including blockbuster hits and exclusive originals.”
The CEO said 1,000 additional movies will go live on the streamer in early June, “with additional titles following through July, bringing the total to over 2,500.” He added: “Hits like The Avengers and Skyfall will be available on the service soon, as well as a bunch of great Paramount films like Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol, Rocketman, Sonic the Hedgehog and more.” Paramount in February unveiled a new deal with Epix that also gives the studio more flexibility in its post-theatrical windowing strategy, allowing for new and library titles to become available on Paramount+.
Bakish reaffirmed John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place Part II will be available on the streamer 45 days after it opens in theaters over Memorial Day. “And we will follow that with the Paw Patrol movie — a treat for families eagerly awaiting a feature-length version of the most popular preschool characters in the world. In addition, new original movies like Paranormal Activity and The In Between will premiere on Paramount+ by the end of ’21.”
In 2022, Paramount hopes to further strengthen its original film offerings, with Bakish saying, “all of this is a preview to a substantial ramping up of original movies next year, when we expect to begin averaging an original movie a week in 2022.”
He didn’t immediately share full details, but responded to a question on the earnings call by saying that these movies would include around a dozen “short-window pay 1” films. “The original movie per week will be an exciting movie per week,” the CEO continued. “It will be a range of different kinds of movies,” including blockbusters, made-for-Paramount+ films from Paramount Players banner and “other studio operations we have, including Nickelodeon” and Awesomeness. Management had in the past signaled it would tap into content and units across ViacomCBS to feed Paramount+.
Wrapping up his comments on the Paramount+ movie push, Bakish concluded: “We will have more on this in the months ahead.” And he emphasized: “People love movies.”
Infinite, based on D. Eric Maikranz’s novel The Reincarnationist Papers, was originally set to be released in August 2020, but was delayed because of the novel coronavirus pandemic. The most recent plan was for a Sept. 24 theatrical release.
Other castmembers include Sophie Cookson, Jason Mantzoukas, Rupert Friend, Toby Jones and Dylan O’Brien.
The screen story is by Todd Stein, the screenplay by Ian Shorr, and the film is produced by Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Mark Vahradian, Mark Huffam, John Zaozirny, Wahlberg and Stephen Levinson. Executive producers are Fuqua, Rafi Crohn, Brian Oliver, Bradley J. Fischer and Valerii An.
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