The impending departure of
The studio is making fewer films these days, and enjoying smaller market share.
However, Pitt didn't make many movies for Paramount, and the
"Paramount's paradigm is a different model," said Richard Walter, a professor at UCLA's School of Theater, Film and Television. "It's a business organization run by MBAs, and I am not saying that in a pejorative way."
Plan B, which was formed in 2002 by Pitt and then-wife
The most recent film, this summer's zombie thriller
The two other Plan B movies put out by the studio weren't big moneymakers. Pitt's company produced the comedy "Year of the Dog" and the thriller "A Mighty Heart" for Paramount's specialty film division Paramount Vantage. Both movies came out in 2007, with "Year of the Dog" taking in $1.6 million worldwide and "A Mighty Heart" topping out at $18.9 million.
Plan B's deal with Paramount expires Dec. 31. On Tuesday, a pair of production companies aligned with Paramount rival 20th Century Fox announced a new multiyear deal with Pitt and his company. One of them is New Regency, which co-financed and co-produced arguably Plan B's most celebrated success — "12 Years a Slave." Paramount had no involvement in the critical darling, which was distributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures and on Wednesday was nominated for four
The picture, about a free man who is kidnapped in 1841 and sold into slavery, is a commercial success but not a blockbuster. It has grossed $35 million worldwide since being released by Fox Searchlight in October, according to Box Office Mojo.
"We had a great experience with Plan B on
A Paramount spokeswoman said studio executives were unavailable for comment. Plan B didn't return phone calls seeking comment.
During Plan B's Paramount tenure, the production company found major success at other studios. Among the box-office or commercial successes Plan B produced elsewhere were
Paramount could continue to benefit from its association with Pitt and Plan B. The studio is moving forward with Pitt on a "World War Z" sequel, which
Losing Pitt could mean losing cachet and buzz. But that loss could be offset by the news last week that the studio had signed a deal with
"The Bruckheimer deal probably at least compensates for if not exceeds the Pitt deal in terms of potential long-term positive financial impact," entertainment business analyst Hal Vogel said in an interview.
Paramount has put out fewer movies than its rivals in recent years and seen its market share shrink as a result. This year, Paramount will release 10 movies, and plans to put out 12 next year.
Warner Bros., the biggest movie studio in terms of films released annually, will put out 18 films this year and 17 next year. According to Box Office Mojo, Paramount was No. 7 in terms of box-office market share this year as of Dec. 1. Last year it also finished seventh but was No. 1 in 2011.
However, Paramount is profitable. For the fiscal quarter that ended Sept. 30, the studio posted adjusted operating income of $291 million, up 49% from a year earlier. Revenue was up 11% to $1.2 billion.
"If you look at the economics, market share clearly is a barometer that people look at, but the barometer that Viacom looks at — and our shareholders look at — is our margins," Paramount Chairman and Chief Executive Brad Grey told The Times last week. "We have a business plan that works for us creatively, as well as for our shareholders."
Times staff writer John Horn contributed to this report.