Media Money with Julia Boorstin

"Transformers" Help Paramount Shift Gears


"Transformers"took the box office by storm this weekend, bringing in a total of $152 million at the domestic box office since it opened on Tuesday, and a total of about $250 million worldwide. This isn't just a nice summer opening--this is huge news for Paramount, which is going to get a huge boost from this hit: not just from its take on this film, but also from the fact that it's Paramount's first potential franchise since "Mission Impossible."And unlike the MI series, they're not relying on a huge star (Tom Cruise), nor are they paying him a huge chunk of gross.

Since Brad Greytook the helm of Paramount there's been lots of upheaval, and lots of speculation about whether or not Grey will stick around. After Sumner Redstone fired Viacom (owner of Paramount) CEO Tom Freston, everything was up in the air and since then there's been tons of turnover, with Gail Berman leaving, and a reorganization of the Paramount's structure.

"Transformers" puts Paramount well on its way for a turnaround. Last year the studio finished in 5th place, but now--year to date Paramount is in first place with 19.1% marketshare. I think the trend started back with "Babel," though not a financial win for Paramount Vantage, all the critical acclaim gave the studio a boost. And then there was "Dreamgirls,"though not a huge DVD win, it was big at the box office. This year Paramount's number one status is largely thanks to DreamWorks, a testament to the fact that the $1.6 billion dollar acqusition of Speilberg's studio was well worth it.

This year DreamWorks contributed "Disturbia," "Blades of Glory," and "Norbit," all quite profitable. And then of course "Transformers" was a joint venture, with DreamWorks responsible for the creative end, the Paramount side dealing with marketing--no small feat for Transformers. Wachovia analyst Jeff Wlodarczak says that "the Paramount turnaround is in full force."

Now I'm hoping to talk to Grey himself at the Allen & Co. media conference in Sun Valley, Idaho,which I'll be covering starting Tuesday...So tune in!

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