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Paramount Pictures is in a three-month intermission

Paramount Pictures will go that long between film releases, a break that resulted from belt-tightening and the delay of three releases to next year.

August 13, 2012|By Ben Fritz, Los Angeles Times

That's possible in part because Paramount has led the way in turning inexpensive, quickly made films such as "Paranormal," "The Devil Inside" and"Justin Bieber: Never Say Never"into $100-million-plus box-office hits through its Insurge label.

Now Paramount is trying to apply lessons from those movies to even its big-budget pictures.

"We have found that the shorter the time from development to release, the more likely you'll have commercial success," Goodman said.

Among filmmakers who get in the door at Paramount, many praise the skill of its marketing team.

"Once the studio gets behind a movie, it's a true partner, as evidenced by the enormous success of 'Paranormal Activity,'" said Jason Blum, the producer behind the low-budget horror series.

But Paramount's approach has created resentments as well. Some producers and agents said they consider it their last stop when selling projects to studios because it buys fewer and has been the most aggressive in asking talent to work for lower guaranteed money in exchange for a cut of profits (should they occur).

"You're always the unpopular ones when you're advancing a cause that pays people less upfront," Moore said.

Nonetheless, Grey said he has "zero concern we don't have an opportunity on projects we care about."

The studio's reputation rests in large part on Grey, who is viewed less as a detail-obsessed operator than a master at setting agendas and maintaining key relationships.

"I didn't talk money at all with Brad," recalled Darren Aronofsky, director of Paramount's $115-million biblical adaptation "Noah," which comes out in 2014. "I had a few meetings where I gave him a sense of the vision, and then he gave his blessing."

Writer/director/producerJ.J. Abrams, whom Grey recruited to Paramount in 2005, said he has been impressed at the studio's willingness to let him pursue original projects such as"Cloverfield"and"Super 8."

And on big-budget franchise films, he added, he has prospered by learning to work the Paramount way.

"While they were very firm about the budget of 'Star Trek,'" he said, "I've learned that financial compromises can lead to creative inspiration."

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