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Paramount to combine operations

The studio and its Vantage unit will share functions except for creative development.

June 04, 2008|Richard Verrier | Times Staff Writer

In the latest streamlining in the independent film business, Paramount Pictures and its specialty label Paramount Vantage said Tuesday that they would combine marketing, distribution and physical production operations.

Paramount Vantage, known for releasing the critically acclaimed films "Babel" and "There Will Be Blood," will continue to operate with its own creative development and acquisition team under the direction of Nick Meyer.

The reorganization will allow the companies "to leverage the strengths and resources of a combined talent base, while minimizing redundancies and optimizing efficiencies," said Rob Moore, vice chairman of Paramount Pictures.

The consolidation will eliminate three senior executive positions and is expected to save Paramount $5 million to $10 million in expenses, allowing Vantage to continue producing about six to eight movies a year.

Only last month, Warner Bros. announced that it would close Warner Independent Pictures, its specialty film division; and Picturehouse, the independent movie arm of New Line Cinema, which was recently consolidated into Warner Bros. by parent Time Warner Inc.

Formerly called Paramount Classics, Vantage was launched at a time when studios were eagerly mining the independent film market with low-cost movies that can generate big profits, prestige and awards. But rising budgeting and marketing costs, coupled with a glut of films targeted to a relatively narrow segment of the audience, have made the business much tougher in recent years.

The merged marketing department will be led by Gerry Rich, Paramount's president of worldwide picture marketing. Megan Colligan and Josh Greenstein were named co-presidents of marketing. The distribution operation will be led by Jim Tharp, and Georgia Kacandes will oversee physical distribution. Vantage employs about 80 people.

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richard.verrier@latimes.com

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