Paramount CEO Brian Robins has announced that the studio will no longer release original animated films, and will be instead shift its focus to releasing content using existing Intellectual Property (IP) instead.
In an interview with Variety, Robbins, who has extensive experience in Hollywood, stated that the recent actors and writers strike has brought the industry to a standstill. The strike, which began on May 2, saw the Writers Guild of America (WGA), which represents nearly 12,000 screenwriters, walk off the job in an effort to increase the royalties they receive from the streaming services that license their work. On July 14, 150,000 actors joined them, sparking an industry-wide shutdown.
“Outside of Barbie, things aren’t going so hot for the Hollywood studios who write the creative community’s diminishing residual checks,” Robbins said.
“The cable business is vaporizing, movies have been eclipsed by TikTok and YouTube, and streaming, which was supposed to usher in a golden era of entertainment, turned out to be too expensive to maintain.”
Robbins explains that box office profits are down 20% compared to pre-pandemic levels, which to him means filmgoers would rather consume media at home. In spite of this, the Good Burger director maintains that he’s still interested in making movies for cinemas, adding that “the publicity that accompanies that kind of launch makes films more popular when they hit home entertainment.”
With the film industry’s future remaining “uncertain,” Robbins, who has worked for Paramount and Nickelodeon since 2021, explains that it is unwise for the production company to “release an expensive original animated movie and just pray people will come.”
“It’s not about Disney and Pixar anymore,” he said, underscoring Disney’s latest film Elementalwhich had an underwhelming opening weekend. “People are looking for animated movies that are irreverent and have a comedic point of view.”
News of Robbin’s decision disappointed movie lovers online, many of whom say Paramount’s new plan to spend less and save more is likely due to its recent box office failures.
Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, which starred Chris Pine and was released in March, reportedly grossed $200 million with a $150 million budget. Similarly, Babylon, an original film written and directed by Damien Chazelle, had an $80 million budget but only grossed $63 million worldwide.
While some believe a lack of marketing power is to blame for Paramount’s recent shortcomings, others share Robbin’s sentiments. One movie-lover on Twitter who goes by the handle @Tmnrud said: “People want studios to take ‘risks’ and be ‘original’ but don’t turn up in theaters when it’s time to. What the bloody hell are you expecting?”
Although Paramount’s upcoming animated feature film Under the Boardwalk will debut on its streaming platform Paramount+, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem, which is inspired by existing IP, will premiere in theaters this Saturday.