Justin Bieber’s ‘Never Say Never’ marks surprising debut for Paramount Insurge


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In December 2009, fresh off the surprise $108-million box office hit ‘Paranormal Activity,’ Paramount Pictures started a new division based on lessons learned from the phenomenom.

The studio’s so-called ‘micro-budget’ unit, later named Paramount Insurge, would aim to release up to 10 movies a year, Paramount film group President Adam Goodman said at the time.


On Friday, Insurge is debuting its first nationwide release--and it is about a phenomenom. ‘Justin Bieber: Never Say Never,’ a 3D concert film and glossy biography about its titular pop star, isn’t exactly what Goodman had in mind 14 months ago. The diferences demonstrate the rapid evolution of Insurge from a unit focused on tiny budgets to one focused on moving fast in an often-slow business where projects can be stuck in ‘development hell’ for years.

Instead of acquiring or making ultra-low-budget movies, Insurge has morphed into what Goodman calls a ‘think tank’ led by the studio’s executive vice president of interactive marketing, Amy Powell, along with one full-time staffer. At meetings attended by a variety of employees from throughout the studio, Insurge brainstorms alternative ideas for movies with a strong social component that can be brought rapidly to the big screen. The Web is one of the group’s primary hunting grounds.

In June, people at an Insurge meeting proposed making a movie about Bieber, who has become one of the hottest musical acts in the country based largely on a young fan base built on the Internet in little more than a year. Goodman took to the idea and by the end of that month he and other senior studio executives were pitching Bieber’s team on a film. ‘Never Say Never’ was produced, edited, marketed and will now be released Friday in just over six months.

‘Traditional development can suck the soul out of a good idea,’ Goodman said. ‘So being able to move really quickly from from conception to screen means you can feel the electricity and freshness in the end result. You can wildly miss, but if you do it right, it has a real relevance to something current and the movie experience itself is the star.’

For much more on ‘Never Say Never,’ see the story on the Justin Bieber movie in today’s L.A. Times.

-- Ben Fritz