When “Bay of Adventures: The Movie,” a big.screen adaptation of a Nickelodeon series, became an unexpected hit this summer in theaters and on the Paramount + streaming platform, few in Hollywood thought its success would launch Nickelodeon boss Brian Robbins into running Paramount Studios.
But just one month later, Robbins was first managed by the parent company ViacomCBS ‘iconic film studio, with the goal of bringing new energy to the studio that has somewhat become Hollywood’s lame horse.
“There were a lot of people who didn’t think a pre.school children’s movie could carry the weight of a movie that hits theaters,” Robbins said in an interview. “Victory in franchise building” and one of the reasons ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish “put me in this chair.”
Prior to his surprise appointment, Robbins oversaw Nickelodeon’s children’s channel, a role he would continue for the time being. Prior to that, he directed Paramount Players, a production arm of Paramount, which made films such as “Dora and the Lost Golden City” and “What Men Want.”
Robbins’ promotion marks a shift shift across the entertainment industry, not just of generation but also of focus, with studios that once focused on the big screen turning their attention to attracting younger audiences and streaming services that appeal directly to the consumer. At Paramount, he’s been looking at the studio library of hits a few years old and looking for ways to update them to this new market, where movies and TV are housed together in one huge content machine.
As a Brooklyn resident, the 57.year.old Robbins began his career in the entertainment business as a teenage actor in the 1980s situation comedy “Class King.” He went from there to production with credits that included the hit youth drama “Smallville” and “One Tree Hill.” Films he produced or directed included “Blues for the Team” and the comedy with Eddie Murphy “Norbit” which was a blockbuster hit but was killed by critics.
“King of the Class” players. Brian Robbins in the brown jacket at the top of the picture / Photo: Reuters, MPTV
He also founded AwesomenessTV, a digital content company that made programs for a Z generation audience and eventually was sold to DreamWorks’ animation arm.
“Everyone is talking about streaming”
A man close to Robbins for years has said he may provide the studio with a much.needed shock.
“New blood should be given a chance,” said Jeremy Zimmer, CEO of United Talent Agency, the player.representation company that has worked with Kevin Hart and other stars.
He said Robbins’ appointment to head Paramount Studios was an opportunity to break a path of old and familiar roads. “Perhaps one of the reasons there is such a lack of momentum and energy in the traditional film business is the lack of leadership that has evolved over time,” Zimmer added.
Robbins’ experience in films pales in comparison to that of his predecessor in office, Jim Genopoulos, a veteran and beloved fox who ran Paramount for nearly five years and before that the 20th Century Fox Studios for 16 years. But Robbins’ background in creating programs and films for teens and his digital experience has attracted leadership at ViacomCBS, including its chairman Sherry Redstone, who, like other veteran media executives, prioritizes streaming.
“Look at Disney, Universal Warners. Where is the discourse going? Everyone is talking about streaming,” Robbins said. “We know where consumer behavior is going. Not only is there a chance to reach and capture a larger audience, but for the first time, entertainment companies are going to have direct relationships with their customers,” he said.
Wall Street also expressed satisfaction with the appointment. Shares of entertainment companies have climbed or risen in the past year due to the rise or fall in the number of subscribers to streaming services.
Paramount has been in decline for the past decade
As a studio once considered the nucleus of Hollywood filmmaking, and the source of classics like “Marked Town,” Paramount’s profile has waned in the past decade after several years in which fewer films were produced and few of which were hits.
Under Genopoulos’ leadership, Paramount gained some renewal, with hits such as “Quiet Place” and the successful integration of other assets such as Sonic the Hedgehog, from the computer games.
Faced with a view of locked movie theaters over the past year and a half, Paramount under her previous leadership has chosen to sell many of the films in her archive to streaming services that could broadcast them in people’s homes. The romantic comedy “The Lovebirds” went to Netflix, as did the Oscar.nominated film “The Swearing.in Trial from Chicago.” The summer film in the big production “War of Tomorrow” was premiered on Amazon’s video prime service.
From the movie “The Lovebirds”. Paramount sold it to Netflix / Photo: Courtesy of yes
Now Robbins has to decide what to do with the movies the studio has kept to itself, including the anticipated sequel to the past hit “Top Gun” and two more films in the “Mission Impossible” film series, both starring Tom Cruise. The first of these is now scheduled to go out in May 2022 after some delays. Robbins says he thinks maybe going to the movies in the movies will go back to some level of normalcy by then.
When he got the job at Paramount, Hollywood industry viewers suspected – and some creators feared – that Robbins’ leadership would put a streaming mentality first, which would largely give up filming in theaters. Robbins said he is committed to keeping the big screens in Paramount, adding that he still hopes the studio will release by 2025 the same number of films to theaters each year as it did before Corona. “I’m not one of those people who thinks movies are going to disappear,” Robbins said.
He has been keeping an eye on Paramount’s franchise series, ninja modes and even Star Trek and Transformers. Each of these assets has given the studio some of its biggest hits in the last decade, but in recent years have also accumulated dust or been disappointed. Robbins has introduced new shows for each of the film series, from TV series to motion pictures, which he hopes will also liven up the characters, provide a steady stream of content to Paramount + and give the studio the kind of success from franchises enjoyed by rivals like the Walt Disney Company.
The movie ‘Ninja Turtles’ released in 2014. One of the Paramount / Photo franchises: courtesy of yes
At the time, he said he had no plans to turn his back on films other than the franchise series or smaller films. The challenge will be to find the most appropriate means of disseminating these genres.
Those familiar with Robbins said it would be foolish to see him as a children’s TV producer who might be in too deep a water in a lead role in a movie studio, a common description among some people at the Old Guard in Hollywood and with some veteran viewers of the industry after his appointment.
“People didn’t appreciate him enough,” said Jordan Levine, a senior in the entertainment industry who worked closely with Robbins when Levine was a network manager, and also replaced him as Awesomeness Director. “It is laser.focused on trying to understand consumers and how to recapture the hearts of the next generation,” he added.
Robbins said he was trying to avoid the negativity of some of Hollywood’s circles about his appointment, noting that when Barry Diller jumped from a broadcast television to head to Paramount Studios in the mid.1970s, there were some Hollywood secretaries who insultingly labeled him “that man from ABC television.”