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Paramount Pictures Launches New Production Division Headed by Brian Robbins

Variety logo Variety 6/7/2017 Dave McNary
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Looking to ramp up production, Paramount is launching a Paramount Players Division with veteran producer and executive Brian Robbins in charge.

Paramount Pictures Chairman and CEO Jim Gianopulos, who took over the studio in March, made the announcement Wednesday. Robbins will work with Viacom’s Nickelodeon, MTV, Comedy Central and BET operations to generate projects while the new division focuses on contemporary properties.

Robbins founded digital media company Awesomeness and headed it up for five years. He will serve as president of Paramount Players, reporting to Gianopulos and joining the studio later this month.

Paramount has lagged behind the competition in box office returns and in creating the kind of global franchises that are prized by studios. Its top franchise is Michael Bay’s Transformers, with its latest film “Transformers: The Last Knight” opening on June 21. The studio is teamed with Tom Cruise for a sixth “Mission: Impossible,” opening July 27, 2018, and is working with J.J. Abrams on a fourth film in the rebooted “Star Trek” series.

Paramount’s 2017 slate so far — consisting of “Baywatch,” “Ghost in the Shell,” “Monster Trucks,” “Rings” and ‘xXx: The Return of Xander Cage” — has under-performed and generated about $190 million in domestic grosses. After “The Last Knight,” Paramount won’t open another movie until Oct. 13, when it launches Darren Aronofsky’s “Mother” on Oct. 13, followed by the lastest Cloverfield movie on Oct. 27.

Gianopulos said in a statement: “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.”

Robbins said, “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. 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. It also feels really good to be reunited with my Nickelodeon and MTV families and to work with all my new colleagues.”

Robbins co-founded Awesomeness with Joe Davola in 2012 and most recently served as CEO of  the multi-platform media company. Robbins produced “Expelled,” “Guidance,” “Foursome,” “t@gged,” “Freakish” and the recent theatrical release “Before I Fall.”

He was the co-founder of Tollin/Robbins Productions and the founder and president of Varsity Pictures. His TV credits include the CW series “Smallville” and “One Tree Hill”; Disney Channel’s “Sonny With a Chance” and “So Random”; Nickelodeon’s “All That” and “Kenan and Kel”; and Spike TV’s “Blue Mountain State.”

Feature credits include Disney’s “Wild Hogs” and “Shaggy Dog”; Paramount’s “Coach Carter,” “Hardball” and “Varsity Blues”; and DreamWorks’ “Norbit.”

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