Paramount Enlists AwesomenessTV's Brian Robbins to Head New Production Division

Brian Robbins - Getty - H 2017
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Paramount Players will produce features in conjunction with Viacom-owned networks like MTV, BET and Comedy Central.

Paramount Studios has unveiled the creation of a new production division that will develop and produce features in conjunction with Viacom-owned Nickelodeon, MTV, Comedy Central and BET.

The division, branded Paramount Players, will be headed by AwesomenessTV grad Brian Robbins, who will work closely with the heads of the Viacom brands to create a slate of films that will aim for younger audiences and will be distributed by Paramount.

As for marketing, emphasis will be placed on digital and social media campaigns in order to capitalize on the already established online following of the networks.

The new division was announced Wednesday by Jim Gianopulos, Paramount's new chairman and CEO, to whom Robbins will report when he joins the company later this month.

Developing more films with the other Viacom properties was one of the goals that Bob Bakish announced when he was named Viacom CEO in December.

Robbins first entered the entertainment business as an actor on Head of the Class before transitioning into a role as a producer, first for Nickelodeon shows such as All That and Kenan & Kel. His Tollin/Robbins shingle later produced WB series One Tree Hill and Smallville. Robbins co-founded AwesomenessTV in 2012 as a YouTube channel for tweens and teens, and subsequently sold the business to DreamWorks Animation for at least $33 million. 

Over the next several years, Robbins grew the business into a $650 million brand that drew on his traditional Hollywood experience to produce such films at Before I Fall and Shovel Buddies and sell a number of kid-friendly shows to Netflix and Hulu. Under his creative direction, ATV also expanded into merchandise, a book imprint and other businesses. But after the sale of DWA to Comcast’s NBCUniversal last year, Robbins made the decision to leave the company. He announced his departure in February, noting that it was time for him “to pass the baton and seek new challenges.” At the time, he was said to be working on a new venture. 

"In the past five years at Awesomeness I learned that new distribution has created so many more opportunities to find/watch content as a consumer and feed/market content as a creator," Robbins said in a statement. "But, at the end of the day, it's still about the creative: making good films that people will show up to watch. From there you can build a brand that people will trust and care about. I can’t wait to disrupt the status quo with a new approach to filmmaking.”

Said Gianopulos: “Brian is a true creative force in the entertainment and digital media industries. We are fortunate to draw from his vast experience to launch a new production paradigm with Paramount Players, which embraces the studio’s history and DNA through its name, but will focus, in distinctive ways, on contemporary talent and properties for young audiences while drawing upon the vast resources of the Viacom brands.”