Paramount trims 6 films a year from slate

October 15, 2008 6:29:18 PM PDT
Viacom Inc. subsidiary Paramount Pictures said Wednesday it is trimming six movies a year from its annual film slate, days after Steven Spielberg's DreamWorks studio announced its films would be distributed by Universal Pictures, leaving a gap at Paramount. Paramount will aim to release 20 films a year, including 12 of its own and up to another four from its Paramount Vantage unit.

The studio will also distribute two to four films a year produced by DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. and Marvel Entertainment Inc.

Last year, Paramount distributed 26 films.

DreamWorks broke off from Paramount earlier this month after lining up $1.5 billion in financing in a partnership with Reliance Big Entertainment of India. It plans to make up to six movies a year.

There had been ongoing friction over the costs of keeping Spielberg and his outfit with Paramount after the studio bought it for $1.6 billion in 2006. The split saves Paramount some $50 million annually in production expenses.

Until Wednesday's announcement, it was unclear if Paramount would try to replace DreamWorks' production pace on some 30 projects DreamWorks put in development while at Paramount. The companies will retain the option to co-finance and co-distribute those films.

"We have right-sized our overhead; and we have established a slate volume that balances our financial goals with our creative objectives," Paramount Chief Executive Brad Grey said in a statement.

Year-to-date box office revenue in the U.S. and Canada was flat through last weekend at $7.38 billion, but the cost of making Hollywood movies has been rising.

Earlier in the year, Time Warner Inc. said it would trim 500 jobs by closing its Picturehouse and Warner Independent labels, while absorbing its New Line Cinema into Warner Bros.


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