Par thinks globally to pump pipeline


Paramount Pictures has formed the Paramount Worldwide Acquisitions Group, an acquisitions and regional production hub that will feed Paramount Pictures International and the recently revamped specialty wing Paramount Vantage.

The new group, led by Matt Brodlie, Vantage's senior vp production and acquisitions, will acquire films for distribution and seek out local production and co-production opportunities globally. Its initial focus will include territories where Paramount already has direct distribution, such as the U.K., Spain, Australia, France, Japan and Latin America.

Brodlie will report to PPI president Andrew Cripps and Vantage president Nick Meyer.

"This development gives us the opportunity to leverage a solid existing infrastructure to service the studio's acquisition needs on a global level," Cripps and Meyer said Tuesday. "As the international marketplace continues to grow, this allows us the ideal structure to expand our activity in this area while fully utilizing the skill set of the accomplished team we have in place."

Vantage staffers joining Brodlie in PWAG include Los Angeles-based Joe Matukewicz, vp acquisitions and co-production; Ben Cotner, executive director of acquisitions and co-productions; and director of acquisitions Mary John Frank. International Vantage staffers on the team include London-based vp acquisitions and co-productions Berenice Fugard, London-based director of acquisitions Alexei Boltho and France-based director of acquisitions and co-productions Karen Adler.

"The growth potentials for Paramount are worldwide," Brodlie said.

The new division partly settles the fates of many key Vantage staffers since it merged with big Paramount and Guy Stodel replaced Amy Israel as executive vp production and acquisitions last week. All new PWAG employees technically will serve a dual role in both Vantage and PWAG rather than shift from one entity to the other, and Brodlie and Stodel will work in tandem.

The Paramount move echoes Sony's creation of its worldwide acquisitions group. SPWAG has been responsible for bringing over television shows for domestic consumption, acquiring films for theatrical and straight-to-DVD release and launching the Stage 6 Films label.

Paramount's angling for a greater share of international acquisitions likely is part of an effort to compensate for the looming absence of DreamWorks product if and when Steven Spielberg and company officially sever ties with the studio. Vantage is halving its projected slate to four to six films a year as its marketing and distribution departments have been brought within the studio proper.

Staff cuts still are expected across all divisions of Paramount.

Jay A. Fernandez reported from Los Angeles; Gregg Goldstein reported from New York.