Hollywood Veteran Jim Gianopulos Talks About Starting Over at the Top of Paramount

Discusses politics of running one of world's best-known movie studios.

June 22, 2017 8:56 am
Paramount's New Head Jim Gianopulos Talks Politics of Hollywood Movie Biz
Paramount Pictures Chairman and CEO Jim Gianopulos makes speech at Paramount Pictures sharing session during the 2017 Beijing International Film Festival (BJIFF) on April 19, 2017 in Beijing, China. (VCG/VCG via Getty Images)

Last year, Jim Gianopulos found out his 16-year tenure as a movie exec at 20th Century Fox was up … while he was on summer vacation. The Murdochs had unceremoniously replaced him with no warning.

He was left jobless, but not without prospects, per The Hollywood Reporter.

Gianopulos ended up at rival Paramount, which was on the ropes after a horrible year at the box office in 2016. And managed to negotiate with Paramount’s parent company, Viacom, for “full greenlight authority for films with budgets up to about $100 million.”

He recently gave his first interview as the chairman and chief executive officer of Paramount to THR. Here are some of the main takeaways.

-Gianopulos says there were two pieces of advice he got about exiting an executive-level gig in Hollywood: “First, you find out who your real friends are … [and second] … if you can’t get the table that you used to get when you were a big shot, just give the maitre d’ a couple hundred bucks once in a while. You can get any table you want.”

-Of his chances at resurrecting Paramount’s place in Hollywood, Gianopulos says, “We have people, money, resources, global distribution and the reach of almost four billion people that Viacom touches around the world. If you can’t make that work, something’s not right.”

-When asked if Gianopulos would cast a woman pilot opposite Tom Cruise in the upcoming Top Gun sequel, he wasn’t averse to the idea. “Why not?” he said.

-He’s looking to release anywhere from 12-16 movies per year.

-On bringing morale back to the studio, Gianopulos says, “Good morale comes when people experience a consistency of management style over a period of time, because everybody can give a Kumbaya speech, but do you really believe it?”

-As a Democrat in Hollywood, Gianopulos said this of the election of Trump: “I try to keep my politics and my work separate. We’re not making movies that I want, we’re making movies that an audience wants. Having said that, I’m really proud of the fact that one of the films we’re about to release next month is the sequel to An Inconvenient Truth. I’ve had the opportunity recently to get to know Vice President Gore, and it has been very gratifying in light of recent developments politically. It’s no secret that I’ve had a long commitment to the Democratic Party. But we’re in the movie business, and we have to be cognizant of social changes and the way people are thinking out there.”

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