Viacom Taps Gianopulos to Lead Paramount Pictures

Industry vet will take helm at studio on April 3

Viacom has named industry veteran Jim Gianopulos as chairman and CEO of Paramount Pictures, effective April 3. The former Fox executive replaces former Paramount chief Brad Grey and will report directly to Viacom CEO Bob Bakish.

Gianopulos, a 30-year veteran of the entertainment industry, has been a leading candidate for the Paramount job for months. He led Fox Filmed Entertainment for16 years, overseeing Twentieth Century Fox, Fox 2000 Pictures, Fox Searchlight Pictures, Fox International Productions, and Twentieth Century Fox Animation/Blue Sky Studios. During his tenure, he oversaw numerous box office hits, ranging from “Avatar” and the “X-Men” series, to “The Descendants” and “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” and most recently “Deadpool” and “Hidden Figures.”

In his role at Paramount, Gianopulos will oversee the studio’s film and television operations worldwide, including production, marketing, distribution and all other facets. He also will be responsible for setting a new strategy for Paramount, including developing new content, strengthening Paramount’s slate with co-branded releases from Viacom brands, and expanding the studio’s global footprint.

Paramount has fallen on hard times over the past few years. The studio has had a string of high-priced box office flops and was the center of the battle between former Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman and its largest shareholder, Sumner Redstone. Dauman, who resigned as Viacom CEO in August, can trace his falling out with former mentor Redstone to his proposal to sell an interest in the studio to pump some needed cash into the programmer.

The move comes after new Viacom CEO Bakish unveiled a plan to revitalize the brand, focusing its attention on six core network brands. As part of the revitalization, each Viacom network is expected to release at least one new film a year through Paramount based on its content properties.

“Jim is a remarkably talented executive with all the tools – strategic vision, strong business expertise, deep industry and creative relationships – to bring films to life that resonate throughout culture and deliver commercial results,” Bakish said in a statement. “I’m thrilled we will have the benefit of his experience, savvy and global expertise as we lay out a clear path forward and begin the next chapter in Paramount’s storied history.”

Gianopulos is a well-respected studio executive and has a long track record in the volatile film industry. Before joining Fox in 2001, he held senior positions at Columbia Pictures and Paramount. He began his career as an attorney specializing in entertainment law.

“Paramount is one of Hollywood’s truly iconic studios, and the role it has played in shaping the entertainment industry cannot be overstated,” Gianopulos said in a statement. “Looking ahead, I see a strong opportunity to position the studio for success by creating valuable franchise opportunities, developing fresh creative ventures, and mining Viacom’s deep brand portfolio to bring exciting new narratives to life. I am eager to get to work with Bob and the rest of the Viacom and Paramount teams to ensure Paramount continues to deliver rich, powerful films and television programming for all audiences.”