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Rob Moore, the vice chairman of Paramount Pictures, will leave the studio, sources tell The Hollywood Reporter.
The move is the latest in a series of tumultuous events at Paramount parent Viacom and comes days after Tom Dooley, Viacom’s interim CEO, stepped down.
Moore, whose contract was to have run through summer 2019, will not be immediately replaced, according to sources.
Moore declined to comment, but a source close to the executive said with Dooley’s departure, Moore’s dismissal became inevitable.
Moore has spent considerable time in China in recent years, helping Paramount make inroads in that growing market. (Recently, he also became engaged to actress and television personality Betty Zhou on Chinese TV. Zhou is host of Talking to Hollywood With Betty Zhou, a Chinese program co-created and produced by Moore.)
Moore had advocated the sale of a 49 percent stake in Paramount to China’s Dalian Wanda Group, arguing that such a deal, valued at as much as $4 billion-$5 billion, would boost Viacom’s stock price, an idea that Dooley as well as former Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman also had endorsed. But Viacom vice chairman Shari Redstone and the board opposed the sale, which no longer appears to be an active possibility.
Paramount, run by CEO Brad Grey since 2006, has had a rough run at the box office in recent years. In 2016, flops have included Zoolander 2, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows. Recent Paramount release Ben-Hur was an epic disaster but was financed mostly by MGM.
Moore joined Paramount in 2005 as president of worldwide marketing, distribution and operations, after having held top executive positions at Joe Roth’s Revolution Studios, where he was a founding partner, and at Disney. Grey promoted him to vice chairman in 2008, and as the No. 2 film executive at Paramount, he oversaw the Transformers, Star Trek and Mission: Impossible franchises.
Paramount, which has cut back the number of films it releases annually in recent years, currently ranks last among the six major studios in terms of 2016 domestic market share. Its top-grossing release of the year, Star Trek Beyond, has grossed just $333 million worldwide. The studio’s upcoming release schedule includes the Tom Cruise starrer Jack Reacher: Never Go Back; the sci-fi tale Arrival, starring Amy Adams; the World War II picture Allied, with Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard; and the Denzel Washington-directed drama Fences.
While the spotlight has been on the executive upheaval at Viacom, the studio’s performance has also come under scrutiny. Last month, after Grey was asked to provide a blueprint for turning around the studio’s fortunes, the board took the unusual step of publicly voicing support for Grey in a statement in which it said it “remained fully supportive of Brad and his leadership of the studio. Under Brad’s leadership Paramount has taken significant successful steps to strengthen its business, and we are confident that Brad and his team have the skills, relationships and resources necessary to return Paramount to success in its movie business and continue its rapid growth in television.”
Lowering its earnings forecast for the current fiscal quarter, Viacom just took a $115 million write-down on the long-delayed film Monster Trucks, which is scheduled for release on Jan. 13. Drexel Hamilton analyst Tony Wible predicted that the loss “implies that Paramount will have lost about $500 million this year despite a favorable box office, home entertainment and licensing environment.” He added, “The studio is gradually losing its major franchises, and it may be difficult to launch new ones in the increasingly competitive film slate.”
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