May 2, 2014

SHOWBUZZDAILY’s Studio Summer Movie Guide: Paramount


The summer movie season is officially underway, just in time for us to finish our look at the line-ups and prospects for each of the big studios.  That brings us to Paramount Pictures, the least busy but hardly the quietest of the group.  Our previous examinations:



Warner Bros

20th Century Fox


LAST SUMMER:  Paramount had only two summer openings in 2013, and both were big gambles.  STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS ($229M US/$467M worldwide) outgrossed the first of the JJ Abrams Star Trek reboots internationally ($258M US/$386M worldwide), but a chunk of that increase was offset by an unexpected slump at home, and the enterprise as a whole barely justified the much bigger budget Paramount gave Abrams this time around with the hope of pushing Star Trek into the A-level franchise elite, a title that still eludes it.  Although Star Trek will of course continue, now that Abrams is occupied with his new Jedi Master duties, the next entry in the series will probably be less pricey.  By the time WORLD WAR Z ($202M US/$540M worldwide) opened, the pre-release buzz was so poisonous that even though it ended up only moderately profitable due to its gigantic cost, it felt as though Paramount had dodged a bullet.  (There’s talk of a lower-budgeted sequel, but whether that will actually happen is unclear, among other reasons because of the complicated relationship between the studio and Brad Pitt.)

MAY:  The studio is taking its time joining the summer parade and sitting May and most of June out.

JUNE:  TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION (June 27) is a reboot of the hugely successful franchise (the 3 films have steadily climbed from $709M worldwide to $836M to $1.124B), although the new version is still directed by Michael Bay.  There’s no question that Mark Wahlberg is a trade-up in the driver’s seat from Shia LaBeouf, and this one adds giant robotic dinosaurs to the mix as well, so it’s safe to say that Extinction will make a fortune, especially overseas.  But the bar is high, and any decline from Transformers 3 will be seen as a misstep.

JULY:  Paramount’s HERCULES (July 25) is a higher-class (and more expensive) piece of beefcake than Spring’s version of the story, with Dwayne Johnson in the lead and the much-maligned but still fairly reliable Brett Ratner behind the camera.  The earlier Hercules flopped, though, as did Pompeii, and the recent 300 sequel didn’t cause much box office excitement, so the question is how much audience enthusiasm there is for yet another sword and sandals epic.

AUGUST:  More Michael Bay, this time as Executive Producer of the rebooted CG and live-action TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES (August 8), starring a rebooted Megan Fox alongside the cartoons.  It’s going to go after the audience that turned up for the Smurfs movie a few years ago, but that crowd didn’t return for the Smurfs sequel, so the level of interest for a franchise that was last seen in 1993 (with a lousy $42M gross) is unclear.

EARLY ODDS:  All that matters is Transformers; the summer’s other openings are window dressing for Paramount.  With so much depending on that one project, the studio has to hope that fatigue hasn’t set in for fantasy antagonists trashing CG cities, and that adding Wahlberg to the mix reignites the franchise’s coolness factor.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."