NEW YORK — Viacom Inc. named Jim Gianopulos the new chairman and chief executive officer of Paramount Pictures, turning to the former Fox chief to revive the flagging movie studio.
Gianopulos will succeed Paramount's former chairman, Brad Grey, who was ousted in February. Viacom Chief Executive Bob Bakish said Monday that Gianopulos will be able to deliver the recovery needed to "begin the next chapter in Paramount's storied history."
But hits have lately been lacking for Paramount, which has trimmed its release schedule and seen its standing in Hollywood slide. Along with overseeing production, marketing and distribution at the studio, Gianopulos has been tasked with setting a new strategy for Paramount. The studio lost $445 million in its 2016 fiscal year.
"Looking ahead, I see a strong opportunity to position the studio for success by creating valuable franchise opportunities, developing fresh creative ventures, and mining Viacom's deep brand portfolio to bring exciting new narratives to life," Gianopulos said in a statement.
Gianopulos was pushed out of 20th Century Fox last year when Stacey Snider was promoted to lead the Fox Filmed Entertainment Group. At Fox, Gianopulos notably oversaw the likes of "Avatar" and the "X-Men" franchise in his 16 years of running the studio.
Though Paramount had a number of critically acclaimed Oscar contenders last year ("Fences," ''Arrival"), it has struggled to find the franchise blockbusters studios depend on for the lion's share of its ticket sales. Paramount's biggest movie last year was the so-so performing "Star Trek Beyond," which made $343.5 million worldwide. But it released a string of clunkers, including "Zoolander 2," ''Ben-Hur" and "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows."
Formerly under Sumner M. Redstone, Viacom wasn't willing to plunk down the kind of money other studios, like the Walt Disney Co., have invested in sought-after intellectual properties. Instead, the studio has turned to financing partners and China to claw its way back. But some of those efforts haven't panned out. A ballyhooed $1 billion co-financing deal with Chinese firms, Huahua Media and Shanghai Film Group, has, at least for now, stalled.
Gianopulos is expected to have bigger budgets to work with and to increase the studio's annual output. He will also be called on to better leverage Viacom's other properties (among them Comedy Central, MTV, BET and Nickelodeon) on the big screen.
Viacom's TV business, though, has also recently struggled. Bakish, who was named chief executive in December, has led a restructuring intended to refocus the media conglomerate on its core brands.
Jake Coyle, The Associated Press