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While Paramount Pictures and its owner Viacom have been under siege of late, Paramount chairman-CEO Brad Grey took to the stage Thursday in New York City to show off what it hopes will prove to be a strong slate of upcoming films that will turn the studio’s fortunes around.
“Thank you for coming out in the rain tonight,” he told reporters gathered for the presentation, held in the screening room at the studio’s Times Square offices. “I know our company has been in the news quite a bit lately, mostly not for movies or television, but I want to say that I am excited about the changes being made at Viacom, and I am really excited about basically what this means for the next chapter of Paramount Pictures. We have a talented team of execs at Paramount, people I’m proud to work with.
“I’m particularly excited to share this early look at or upcoming films with you,” Grey continued. “We have a strong slate, a diverse group of pictures that reflects the awesome talents and creativity of the artists we work with each and every day.” He also added that Paramount’s TV division, under Amy Powell, is “off to a very strong start,” with 11 shows ordered for production and 30 more in development.
The half-hour presentation included an exclusive, and dialogue-free, trailer for Martin Scorsese’s Silence, starring Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver, which opens in limited release Dec. 23. It also featured trailers and some exclusive footage of Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi tale Arrival, starring Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner; Robert Zemeckis‘ WWII action-drama Allied, toplined by Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard; Josh Gordon and Will Speck’s ensemble comedy Office Christmas Party, starring Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman; and Denzel Washington’s adaptation of Fences, in which he stars opposite Viola Davis.
The studio also offered up first looks at some of its 2017 titles, including D.J. Caruso’s xXx: The Return of Xander Cage, starring Vin Diesel; F. Javier Gutierrez’ Rings; Rupert Sanders’ Ghost in the Shell adaptation, toplined by Scarlett Johansson; and the animated feature Amusement Park. A sizzle reel also touted the upcoming Baywatch reboot, World War Z 2, Mission: Impossible 6 and Transformers: The Last Knight, as well as offering stills from God’s Particle, Annihilation, Downsizing and Suburbicon. The sizzle reel also noted that Darren Aronofsky’s upcoming project with Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem has a title: Mother!.
No mention was made of Monster Trucks, the repeatedly delayed, 3D live-action/computer-animated action-comedy produced by Paramount Animation and Mary Parent’s Disruption Entertainment. The big-budget title, set for release Jan. 13, has already prompted Viacom to take a $115 million write-down.
In the past, recently ousted Paramount vice chairman Rob Moore was often the face of the studio at such events. But with Moore’s exit amid the upheaval at parent company Viacom, Grey used the event to demonstrate he’s in control. “I feel very comfortable,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. “I’ve been running Paramount for 12 years, so I’ve had a wonderful time, and I’m having an even better time now. I’m deep into every department, and working with everyone has been a great new beginning for the studio and Viacom.”
Grey insisted the recent events surrounding Viacom would have no effect on the box-office performance of the upcoming films. “Those headline are over,” he said of the corporate shake-up. “Obviously, we’ll see where the potential merger with Les [Moonves] and CBS goes, but that will have absolutely nothing to do with how we move on at Paramount and how we market and promote these pictures. I feel very strong. Everyone is very excited.”
Paramount has had a rough run at the box office of late. Flops this year include Zoolander 2 and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows. Recent Paramount release Ben-Hur was an epic disaster but was financed mostly by MGM.
Pamela McClintock contributed to this report.
Oct. 27, 7:55 p.m.: Updated with details on Mother!.
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