Paramount Pictures continues to struggle when it comes to its movie business, but the man leading the studio’s parent company says some financial help could be on the way.
More than 40 companies expressed an interest in acquiring a minority stake in Paramount, chief executive officer Philippe Dauman said, and his team will now start the process of winnowing that down to the strongest candidates.
“There is strong interest from around the world,” Dauman said, according to Variety. “We will have a compelling result that will be both a strategic driver, and reflect the significant value of Paramount.”
Paramount announced in February that it was seeking a company to become a large investor, possibly buying a minority stake in the studio that could be worth more than a billion dollars. Such an investment is needed as Paramount continues to lose marketshare, and is losing money for its Viacom parent.
In fact, Viacom’s filmed entertainment division — led primarily by Paramount — added another $136 million to the loss column this quarter, according to financial reports filed this week with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. That now brings total losses of that division to $282 million for the year, despite revenue of less than $1.3 billion. Revenue overall is off $100 million from last year, but the losses were much smaller in 2015, with filmed entertainment finishing just $59 million in the red over the first six months.
That puts even more pressure on “Star Trek: Beyond” to perform well when it’s released July 22. “Beyond” leads a short summer slate for Paramount, which also includes “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows” on June 3, and “Ben-Hur” on Aug. 12.
Paramount has a history of releasing far fewer films than its contemporaries. In fact, the studio appears to be releasing just four films for the summer movie season, while both Universal and Warner Bros. are doing eight — each. Even Sony Pictures has six films coming out this summer, while Walt Disney is planning just five — of course, one of those (“Captain America: Civil War”) is through Marvel Studios, and the other (“Finding Dory”) through Pixar.
So far in 2016, Paramount has released just eight films, grossing $275.5 million and accounting for more than 8 percent of the market, according to The Numbers. By comparison, both Walt Disney and Twentieth Century Fox combined are controlling 46 percent of the market, pulling in $1.5 billion over 16 films.
But volume doesn’t necessarily matter. Warner Bros., for example, has released 16 movies — matching Disney and Fox combined — but has earned just $425 million this year, for a 13 percent stake in the market. Sony Pictures has had 11 releases, but has made only $164.7 million, for just a 5 percent market share.
Paramount is averaging $34.4 million per film, easily topped by Disney at $125.9 million per film, and Fox at $74.4 million for each film. Warner Brothers is averaging just $26.6 million, while Sony is pulling in just $15 million per film on average.
That means Paramount is going to need a big outing from “Beyond,” and from both “Out of the Shadows” and its “Ben-Hur” remake, too. We’ll know for sure in the coming weeks and months.