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Paramount Pictures Corporation
Type Subsidiary of Viacom
Founded May 8, 1912
Headquarters Hollywood, California, U.S.
Area served Worldwide
Key people Brad Grey, Chairman and CEO
Frederick D. Huntsberry, COO
Industry Films
Revenue $3.0 billion USD (2005)
Operating income $62.1 million USD (2005)
Owner(s) Private (1912-1966)
Gulf+Western (1966-1989)
Paramount Communications (1989-1994)
"Old" Viacom (now CBS Corporation, 1994-2006)
"New" Viacom (2006-present)

Paramount Pictures is an American film production and distribution company, located at 5555 Melrose Avenue in Hollywood, California. Founded in 1912 and currently owned by media conglomerate Viacom, it is America's oldest existing film studio; it is also the last major film studio still headquartered in the Hollywood district of Los Angeles. Paramount is consistently ranked as one of the top-grossing movie studios.[1]




Early history


Paramount Pictures can trace its beginning to the creation in May 1912 of the Famous Players Film Company. Founder Hungarian-born Adolph Zukor, who had been an early investor in nickelodeons, saw that movies appealed mainly to working-class immigrants. With partners Daniel Frohman and Charles Frohman he planned to offer feature-length films that would appeal to the middle class by featuring the leading theatrical players of the time (leading to the slogan "Famous Players in Famous Plays"). By mid-1913, Famous Players had completed five films, and Zukor was on his way to success.

That same year, another aspiring producer, Jesse L. Lasky, opened his Lasky Feature show Company with money borrowed from his brother-in-law, Samuel Goldfish, later known as Samuel Goldwyn. The Lasky company hired as their first employee a stage director with virtually no film experience, Cecil B. DeMille, who would find a suitable location site in Hollywood, near Los Angeles, for his first film, The Squaw Man.

Beginning in 1914, both Lasky and Famous Players released their films through a start-up company, Paramount Pictures Corporation, organized early that year by a Utah theatre owner, W. W. Hodkinson, who had bought and merged several smaller firms. Hodkinson and actor, director, producer Hobart Bosworth had started production of a series of Jack London movies. Paramount was the first successful nation-wide distributor; until this time, films were sold on a state-wide or regional basis. Not only was this inefficient, but it had proved costly to film producers. Also while Famous Players and Lasky were privately owned Paramount was a corporation so the other two companies were merged into Paramount.

Soon the ambitious Zukor, unused to taking a secondary role, began courting Hodkinson and Lasky. In 1916, Zukor maneuvered a three-way merger of his Famous Players, the Lasky Company, and Paramount. The new company, Famous Players-Lasky Corporation, grew quickly, with Lasky and his partners Goldfish and DeMille running the production side, Hiram Abrams in charge of distribution, and Zukor making great plans. With only the exhibitor-owned First National as a rival, Famous Players-Lasky and its "Paramount Pictures" soon dominated the business.


Because Zukor believed in stars, he signed and developed many of the leading early stars, including Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Gloria Swanson, Rudolph Valentino, and Wallace Reid. With so many important players, Paramount was able to introduce "block booking", which meant that an exhibitor who wanted a particular star's films had to buy a year's worth of other Paramount productions. It was this system that gave Paramount a leading position in the 1920s and 1930s, but which led the government to pursue it on antitrust grounds for more than twenty years.

The driving force behind Paramount's rise was Zukor. All through the teens and twenties, he built a mighty theatrical chain of nearly 2,000 screens, ran two production studios, and became an early investor in radio, taking a 50% interest in the new Columbia Broadcasting System in 1928. By acquiring the successful Balaban & Katz chain in 1926, he gained the services of both Barney Balaban, who became Paramount's president, and Sam Katz, who ran the Paramount-Publix theatre chain. Zukor also hired independent producer B. P. Schulberg, an unerring eye for new talent, to run the West Coast studio. In 1927, Famous Players-Lasky took on the name Paramount-Famous Lasky Corporation. Three years later, because of the importance of the Publix theater chain, it was later known as Paramount-Publix Corporation.

Also in 1928, Paramount began releasing Inkwell Imps animated cartoons produced by Max and Dave Fleischer's Fleischer Studios in New York City. The Fleischers, veterans in the animation industry, would prove to be among the few animation producers capable of challenging the prominence of Walt Disney. The Paramount newsreel series Paramount News ran from 1927 to 1957.


Lasky's original studio, a.k.a.: "The Barn"; as it appeared in 1913

Eventually Zukor shed most of his early partners; the Frohman brothers, Hodkinson and Goldfish/Goldwyn were out by 1917 while Lasky hung on until 1932, when, blamed for the near-collapse of Paramount in the Depression years, he too was tossed out. Zukor's over-expansion and use of overvalued Paramount stock for purchases led the company into receivership in 1933. A bank-mandated reorganization team, led by John Hertz and Otto Kahn kept the company intact, and, miraculously, kept Zukor on. In 1935, Paramount Publix went bankrupt. in 1936, Barney Balaban became president, and Zukor was bumped up to chairman of the board. In this role, Zukor reorganized the company as Paramount Pictures, Inc. and was able to successfully bring the studio out of bankruptcy.

As always, Paramount films continued to emphasize stars; in the 1920s there were Swanson, Valentino, and Clara Bow. By the 1930s, talkies brought in a range of powerful new draws: Miriam Hopkins, Marlene Dietrich, Mae West, Gary Cooper, Claudette Colbert, the Marx Brothers, Dorothy Lamour, Carole Lombard, Bing Crosby, the band leader Shep Fields and the famous Argentine tango singer Carlos Gardel among them. In this period Paramount can truly be described as a movie factory, turning out sixty to seventy pictures a year. Such were the benefits of having a huge theater chain to fill, and of block booking to persuade other chains to go along. In 1933, Mae West would also add greatly to Paramount's success with her movies She Done Him Wrong and I'm No Angel.[2][3] However, the sex appeal West gave in these movies would also lead to the enforcement of the Production Code, as the newly formed organization the Catholic Legion of Decency threatened a boycott if it wasn't enforced.[4] Paramount cartoons produced by Fleischer Studios continued to be successful, with characters such as Betty Boop and Popeye the Sailor becoming widely successful. One Fleischer series, Screen Songs, featured live-action music stars under contract to Paramount hosting sing-alongs of popular songs. However, a huge blow to Fleischer Studios occurred in 1934, after the Production Code was enforced and Betty Boop's popularity declined as she was forced to have a more tame personality and wear a longer skirt.[5] The animation studio would rebound with Popeye, and in 1935, polls showed that Popeye was even more popular than Mickey Mouse.[6] After an unsuccessful expansion into feature films, as well as the fact that Max and Dave Fleischer were no longer speaking to one another, Fleischer Studios was acquired by Paramount, which renamed the operation Famous Studios and continued cartoon production until 1967.

The original Paramount logo seen on 1930s movies and Popeye shorts


In 1940, Paramount agreed to a government-instituted consent decree: block booking and "pre-selling" (the practice of collecting up-front money for films not yet in production) would end. Immediately Paramount cut back on production, from sixty-plus pictures to a more modest twenty annually in the war years. Still, with more new stars like Bob Hope, Alan Ladd, Veronica Lake, Paulette Goddard, and Betty Hutton, and with war-time attendance at astronomical numbers, Paramount and the other integrated studio-theatre combines made more money than ever. At this, the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department decided to reopen their case against the five integrated studios. Paramount also had a monopoly over Detroit movie theaters through subsidiary company United Detroit Theaters as well.[7] This led to the Supreme Court decision United States v. Paramount Pictures, Inc. (1948) holding that movie studios could not also own movie theater chains. This decision broke up Adolph Zukor's amazing creation and effectively brought an end to the classic Hollywood studio system.

The 1950s to the 1970s


With the separation of production and exhibition forced by the U.S. Supreme Court, Paramount Pictures Inc. was split in two. Paramount Pictures Corporation was formed to be the production distribution company, with the 1,500-screen theater chain handed to the new United Paramount Theaters on December 31, 1949. Leonard Goldenson, who had headed the chain since 1938, remained as the new company's president. The Balaban and Katz theatre division was spun off with UPT. The Balaban and Katz trademark is now owned by the Balaban and Katz Historical Foundation. Cash-rich and controlling prime downtown real estate, Goldenson began looking for investments; barred from film-making, he acquired the struggling ABC television network in February, 1953.

Paramount Pictures had been an early backer of television, launching experimental stations in 1939 in Los Angeles (later to become KTLA) and Chicago (which was sold off as part of UPT and eventually became WBBM-TV). It was also an early investor in the pioneer DuMont Laboratories and through that, the DuMont Television Network, but because of anti-trust concerns after the 1948 ruling, and station ownership issues (DuMont owned three stations in New York, Washington, D.C. and Pittsburgh; but because of Paramount's involvement, KTLA and WBBM were also recognized by the FCC as network O&O stations, even though the former was only an affiliate in 1947 and the latter never carried a DuMont program) proved to be a timid and obstructionist partner, refusing to aid DuMont as it sank in the mid-1950s.[8][9]

With the loss of the theater chain, Paramount Pictures went into a decline, cutting studio-backed production, releasing its contract players, and making production deals with independents. By the mid-1950s, all the great names were gone; only C.B. DeMille, associated with Paramount since 1913, kept making pictures in the grand old style. Despite Paramount's losses, DeMille would, however, give the studio some relief and create his most successful film at Paramount, a 1956 remake of his 1923 film The Ten Commandments.[10] Like some other studios, Paramount saw little value in its film library (see below for more info on the early Paramount library). DeMille died in 1959.


By the early 1960s Paramount's future was doubtful. The high-risk movie business was wobbly; the theater chain was long gone; investments in DuMont and in early pay-television came to nothing. Even the flagship Paramount building in Times Square was sold to raise cash, as was KTLA (sold to Gene Autry in 1964 for a then-phenomenal $12.5 million). Founding father Adolph Zukor (born in 1873) was still chairman emeritus; he referred to chairman Barney Balaban (born 1888) as 'the boy'. Such aged leadership was incapable of keeping up with the changing times, and in 1966, a sinking Paramount was sold to Charles Bluhdorn's industrial conglomerate Gulf and Western Industries. Bluhdorn immediately put his stamp on the studio, installing a virtually unknown producer, Robert Evans, as head of production. Despite some rough times, Evans held the job for eight years, restoring Paramount's reputation for commercial success with The Odd Couple, Love Story, Chinatown, and Rosemary's Baby.

Gulf and Western Industries also bought the neighboring Desilu television studio (once the lot of RKO Pictures) from Lucille Ball in 1967. Using Desilu's established shows like Star Trek, Mission: Impossible and Mannix as a foot in the door at the networks, the newly-reincorporated Paramount Television eventually became known as a specialist in half-hour situation comedies.


In 1970, Paramount teamed with Universal Studios to form Cinema International Corporation, a new company that would distribute films by the two studios outside the United States. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer would become a partner in the mid 1970s. Both Paramount and CIC entered the video market with Paramount Home Video (now Paramount Home Entertainment) and CIC Video, respectively.

Robert Evans quit as head of production in 1974; his successor Richard Sylbert, was too literary and tasteful for Gulf + Western's Bluhdorn. By 1976, a new, television-trained team was in place: Barry Diller, and his 'killer-Dillers,' associates Michael Eisner, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Dawn Steel and Don Simpson. The specialty now was simpler, 'high concept' pictures like Saturday Night Fever and Grease. With his television background, Diller kept pitching an idea of his to the board: a fourth commercial network. But the board, and Bluhdorn, wouldn't bite. Neither would Bluhdorn's successor, Martin Davis. Diller took his fourth-network idea with him when he moved to Twentieth Century-Fox in 1984, where the new proprietor, Rupert Murdoch, was a more interested listener.

Paramount Pictures was unconnected to Paramount Records, until it purchased the rights to use Paramount Records' name (but not its catalogue) in the late 1960s. The Paramount name was used for soundtrack albums and some pop re-issues from the Dot Records catalogue. Paramount had acquired the pop-oriented Dot in 1958, but by 1970 Dot had become an all-country label.[11] In 1974, Paramount sold all of its record holdings to ABC Records, which in turn was sold to MCA in 1978.

From the 1980s to 1994

Paramount's successful run of pictures extended into the 1980s and 1990s, generating hits like Flashdance, Terms Of Endearment, Footloose, Pretty In Pink, Fatal Attraction, the Friday the 13th slasher series, as well as Raiders of the Lost Ark and its sequels. Other examples are the Star Trek series and a string of films starring comedian Eddie Murphy like Trading Places, Beverly Hills Cop and BHC's sequels. While the emphasis was decidedly on the commercial, there were occasional less commercial but more artistic and intellectual efforts like I'm Dancing as Fast as I Can, Atlantic City, Reds, and Witness. During this period responsibility for running the studio passed from Eisner and Katzenberg to Frank Mancuso Sr. (1984) and Ned Tanen (1984) to Stanley Jaffe (1991) and Sherry Lansing (1992). More so than most, Paramount's slate of films included many remakes and television spinoffs; while sometimes commercially successful, there have been few compelling films of the kind that once made Paramount the industry leader. The studio even had its share of box office flops such as Grease 2.

In 1981, Cinema International Corporation was reorganized as United International Pictures. This was necessary because MGM had merged with United Artists which had its own international distribution unit, but MGM was not allowed to leave the venture at the time (they finally did in 2001, switching international distribution to 20th Century Fox).

In 1985, Dawn Steel became head of Motion Picture Production.

When Charles Bluhdorn died unexpectedly, his successor Martin Davis dumped all of G+W's industrial, mining, and sugar-growing subsidiaries and refocused the company, renaming it Paramount Communications in 1989. With the influx of cash from the sale of G+W's industrial properties in the mid-1980s, Paramount bought a string of television stations and KECO Entertainment's theme park operations, renaming them Paramount Parks.

In 1993, Sumner Redstone's entertainment conglomerate Viacom made a bid for Paramount; this quickly escalated into a bidding war with Barry Diller. But Viacom prevailed, ultimately paying $10 billion for the Paramount holdings.

Paramount is the last major film studio located in Hollywood proper. When Paramount moved to its present home in 1927, it was in the heart of the film community. Since then, former next-door neighbor RKO closed up shop in 1957; Warner Bros. (whose old Sunset Boulevard studio was sold to Paramount in 1949 as a home for KTLA) moved to Burbank in 1930; Columbia joined Warners in Burbank in 1973 then moved again to Culver City in 1989; and the Pickford-Fairbanks-Goldwyn-United Artists lot, after a lively history, has been turned into a post-production and music-scoring facility for Warners, known simply as "The Lot". For a time the semi-industrial neighborhood around Paramount was in decline, but has now come back. The recently refurbished studio has come to symbolize Hollywood for many visitors, and its studio tour is a popular attraction.

1994-2004: The Dolgen/Lansing years

During this time period, Paramount Pictures went under the guidance of Jonathan Dolgen, chairman and Sherry Lansing, president.[12][13] During their administration over Paramount, the studio had an extremely successful period of films with two of Paramount's ten highest grossing films being produced during this period.[14] The most successful of these films, Titanic, a joint production with 20th Century Fox, became the highest grossing film of all time grossing over $1.8 billion worldwide.[15] Also during this time, three Paramount Pictures films won the Academy Award for Best Picture; Titanic, Braveheart, and Forrest Gump. Dolgen and Lansing also presided over the production and release of other films including Saving Private Ryan (outside the US; DreamWorks handled American distribution), as well as the Mission: Impossible films.

In 1995, Viacom and Chris-Craft Industries' United Television launched United Paramount Network (UPN), fulfilling Barry Diller's 1970s plan for a Paramount network. In 1999, Viacom bought out United Television's interests, and handed responsibility for the start-up network to the newly acquired CBS unit, which Viacom bought in 1999 - an ironic confluence of events as Paramount had once invested in CBS, and Viacom had once been the syndication arm of CBS as well.[16]

In 2002, Paramount Pictures, Walt Disney Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Sony Pictures, Universal Studios, and Warner Bros. formed the Digital Cinema Initiative.[17] DCI was created "to establish and document voluntary specifications for an open architecture for digital cinema that ensures a uniform and high level of technical performance, reliability and quality control."[17]

2005 to present

CBS Corporation/Viacom split

Reflecting in part the troubles of the broadcasting business, in 2005 Viacom wrote off over $28 billion from its radio acquisitions and, early that year, announced that it would split itself in two. The split was completed in January 2006.

The CBS television and radio networks, the Infinity radio-station chain (now called CBS Radio), the Paramount Television production unit (known as CBS Paramount Network Television) and the network UPN (replaced by The CW Television Network, co-owned with rival Time Warner's Warner Bros.) are part of CBS Corporation, as was Paramount Parks prior to its June 2006 sale by CBS to the Cedar Fair Entertainment Company. CBS Corporation also merged its television distribution arms, KingWorld, CBS Paramount International Television and CBS Paramount Domestic Television, into CBS Television Distribution in 2006.

Paramount Pictures is now lumped in with MTV, BET, and other highly profitable channels owned by the new Viacom.

With the announcement of the split of Viacom, Dolgen and Lansing were replaced by former television executives Brad Grey and Gail Berman. The decision was made to split Viacom into two companies, which in turn led to a dismantling of the Paramount Studio/Paramount TV infrastructure. The current Paramount is about one-quarter the size it was under Dolgen and Lansing and consists only of the movie studio. The Paramount Television studio was made part of CBS in the split. The remaining businesses were sold off or parceled out to other operating groups. Paramount's home entertainment unit continues to distribute the Paramount TV library through CBS DVD, as both Viacom and CBS Corporation are controlled by National Amusements.

In 2009, CBS stopped using the Paramount name in its series and changed the name of the production arm to CBS Television Studios, eliminating the Paramount name from television. It is one of only 2 of the Big Six to have this fate (the other being Columbia Pictures, although unlike Paramount, it is still a direct sister to its former TV arm).


On December 11, 2005, Paramount announced that it had purchased DreamWorks SKG (which was co-founded by former Paramount executive Jeffrey Katzenberg) in a deal worth $1.6 billion. The announcement was made by Brad Grey, chairman and CEO of Paramount Pictures, who noted that enhancing Paramount's pipeline of pictures is a "key strategic objective in restoring Paramount's stature as a leader in filmed entertainment." The agreement doesn't include DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc., the most profitable part of the company that went public the previous year.

Under the deal, Paramount is required to distribute the DreamWorks animated films for a small fee intended only to cover Paramount's out of pocket costs with no profit to the studio, including the Shrek franchise (and ending for the 2004 installment, Shrek 2). The first film distributed under this deal is Over the Hedge.

The deal closed on February 6, 2006. This acquisition was seen at the time as a stopgap measure as Brad Grey had been unsuccessful in assembling sufficient films for production and distribution and the DreamWorks films would fill the gap.

On October 6, 2008, Paramount and DreamWorks announced the joint venture was ending and that DreamWorks would be seeking new distributors for its films.[18]

UIP, Famous Music and Digital Entertainment

Grey also broke up the famous UIP international distribution company, the most successful international film distributor in history, after a 25-year partnership with Universal Studios and has started up a new international group. As a consequence Paramount fell from #1 in the international markets to the lowest ranked major studio in 2006 but recovered in 2007 if the DreamWorks films, acquired by Paramount, are included in Paramount's market share. UIP still does business in smaller markets.

Grey also launched a Digital Entertainment division to take advantage of emerging digital distribution technologies. This led to Paramount becoming the second movie studio to sign a deal with Apple Inc. to sell its films through the iTunes store. They also signed an exclusive agreement with the failed HD DVD consortium and subsequently gave up the guarantees they had received and will now release in the Blu-ray format.

Also, in 2007, Paramount sold another one of its "heritage" units, Famous Music, to Sony/ATV Music Publishing (best known for publishing many songs by The Beatles), ending a nearly-eight decade run as a division of Paramount, being the studio's music publishing arm since the period when the entire company went by the name "Famous Players."

Paramount Home Entertainment

Paramount Home Entertainment (formerly Paramount Home Video and Paramount Video) is the division of Paramount Pictures dealing with home video and was founded in late 1975.

PHE distributes most of the programming assets owned by Viacom parent National Amusements. The not only includes films by Paramount Pictures themselves, but also the back catalog of DreamWorks (including releases made prior to the Viacom acquisition, and those distributed by Paramount, among other acquisitions), shows from MTV Networks and BET Networks, and, through CBS Home Entertainment, the holdings of Viacom sister company CBS Corporation - this includes the libraries of CBS Television Studios, CBS Theatrical Films (and predecessor companies like Cinema Center Films), and Showtime Entertainment.

PHE also has agreements with PBS and Hasbro for DVD/Blu-Ray distribution of various programs that the former aired, and several films and TV series based on franchises owned by the latter. By-products of the latter deal are the 2007 and 2009 films based on the Transformers toy line, and the 2009 film based on the G.I. Joe toy line, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.

Films from Republic Pictures, Paramount's other subsidiary, are not distributed on video and DVD by PHE (with some exceptions), but are distributed on video and DVD by Lionsgate Home Entertainment, which recently signed a deal to distribute some of Paramount's own films on DVD (in addition to the aforementioned Republic library). Also, as a result of this deal, Lionsgate has recently released "triple features" of their own library of films on DVD using the package design originated by Paramount.

PHE have developed a well-known trademark by giving their Special Edition/Director's Cut editions different names rather than the usual "Special Edition," or "Director's Edition". Paramount Home Entertainment gives them different names such as Grease: The Rockin' Rydell Edition, Beavis & Butthead Do America: The Edition That Doesn't Suck and Airplane!: The "Don't Call Me Shirley" Edition.

Internationally, PHE holds the DVD rights to several shows on HBO. PHE also distributes in Germany the DVD releases of films distributed theatrically by Prokino Filmverleih.

As Paramount Home Video, the company once distributed several Miramax releases on video - the video rights to some of these films (such as Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth) are still owned by Paramount.[19]

Recently, PHE launched a direct-to-video label, Paramount Famous Productions (with the "Famous" part of the name a throwback to the days when the company was called Famous Players).

This distributor released Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Very First Alvin Show on DVD September 8, 2009 featuring A Chipmunk Reunion and Rockin' Through the Decades.

HD DVD & Blu-ray support

Paramount brands the majority of its HD content under the label 'Paramount High Definition' which is seen both on the title box cover and as an in-movie opening. Films from Paramount subsidiaries such as Nickelodeon Movies and MTV Films as well as from sister studio DreamWorks SKG use no special branding, Paramount Vantage (another subsidiary) releases only select titles under the Paramount High Definition banner such as Babel.

In October 2005, Paramount announced that it would be supporting the HD video format Blu-ray Disc in addition to rival format HD DVD, becoming the first studio to release on both formats.[20] Its first four HD DVD releases came in July 2006,[21] and it released four titles on Blu-ray two months later.[22] In August 2007, Paramount (along with DreamWorks SKG and DreamWorks Animation) announced their exclusive support for HD DVD.[23] However, when other studios eventually dropped HD DVD and players for the technology stopped being manufactured, Paramount switched to Blu-ray. In May 2008, it released 3 titles on Blu-ray and continues to release its high-definition discs in that format exclusively.[24], however they are not a member of the Blu-ray Disc Association.

The Paramount library

Through a series of mergers and acquisitions, many of Paramount's early cartoons, shorts, and feature films are owned by numerous entities.

In 1955, Paramount acquired Frank Capra's production company, Liberty Films, which produced only 2 films in the late 1940s: It's a Wonderful Life, released originally by RKO Radio Pictures, and State of the Union, released originally by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Around that same time, as mentioned before, Paramount saw little value in its library, and decided to sell off its back catalog.

Short subjects


Most of the Paramount cartoons and shorts went to various television distributors, with U.M.&M. T.V. Corp. acquiring the majority of the cartoons and live action short subjects released before October 1950 (exceptions are noted below), in 1955. Some lesser known features were included in this deal as well, such as It's a Wonderful Life.

U.M.&M. was later sold to National Telefilm Associates, or NTA for short. NTA changed its name to Republic Pictures (which was previously the name of a minor film studio, whose backlog had been sold to NTA) in 1984, and was sold to Viacom in 1999, hence all the material sold to U.M.&M. would return to Paramount (though, except for few other films, video rights belong to Lionsgate).

Popeye and Superman

However, not all pre-10/50 Paramount cartoons went to U.M.&M. (to end up with Republic). The Popeye cartoons were sold to Associated Artists Productions in 1956, which also purchased most of the pre-1950 features and shorts by Warner Bros. Pictures. Meanwhile, the Superman cartoons went to Motion Pictures for Television, producers of the Superman television series.

The Popeye cartoons passed on to United Artists after its purchase of a.a.p., then to MGM after they purchased UA. After Ted Turner failed in an attempt to buy MGM/UA in 1986, he settled for ownership of the library, which included the a.a.p. library. Turner Entertainment, the holding company for Turner's film library, would later be sold to Time Warner. Turner technically holds the rights to the Popeye cartoons today, but sales and distribution is in the hands of Warner Bros. Entertainment.

WB also owns Superman's publisher, DC Comics, and although the Superman cartoons are now in the public domain, WB owns the original film elements.


The rest of the post-1950 cartoons by Famous Studios that were released prior to April 1, 1962 (except some special releases) were sold to Harvey Comics, along with all rights to Famous' characters Casper the Friendly Ghost, Little Audrey, Herman and Katnip, et al.}, in 1958, which were retitled "Harveytoons" for television distribution after 1959 (beginning with their exposure on Matty's Funday Funnies), and are now owned by Classic Media. A few live-action short-subjects were apparently included in this package as well, as searches in the Library of Congress Copyright Catalog indicate.;

EMKA, Ltd.

When the talent agency Music Corporation of America (better known as MCA), then wielding major influence on Paramount policy, offered $50 million for 750 pre-1950 features (with payment to be spread over many years), a cash-strapped Paramount thought it had made the best possible deal. To address anti-trust concerns, MCA set up a separate company, EMKA, Ltd., to sell these films to television.

The deal included such notable Paramount films as the early Marx Brothers films, most of the Bob Hope-Bing Crosby "Road" pictures, and such Oscar contenders as Double Indemnity, The Lost Weekend, and The Heiress.

MCA later admitted that over the next forty years it took in more than a billion dollars in rentals of these supposedly "worthless" pictures. MCA later purchased the US branch of Decca Records, which owned Universal Studios (now a part of NBC Universal), and thus Universal now owns these films, though EMKA continues to hold the copyright and technically are part of the television unit of NBC Universal.

Some of these films would get remade by Universal in later years, either as theatrical releases (such as Meet Joe Black, a remake of Death Takes a Holiday), or for television. Yet a few other films became adapted by Revue Studios (now Universal Media Studios) as television series.

Exceptions in pre-1950 library

Several other feature films ended up in Republic's possession (as stated above), yet others had been retained by Paramount due to other rights issues (such as Sorry, Wrong Number and The Miracle of Morgan's Creek). As for Paramount's silent features, some still are under Paramount ownership—for example, 1927's Wings, the first "Best Picture" Academy Award winner—but many others are either lost or in the public domain.

Also, one additional pre-1950 film, the 1931 version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, was sold to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1941 who filmed a remake that same year - this film is also now owned by WB/Turner Entertainment.

Several films produced by Paramount in 1942 were sold to United Artists when that studio needed product to release, and Paramount had a surplus. These films would not end up under EMKA ownership, and are now owned by different entities. For example, I Married a Witch is now owned by Castle Hill Productions, with video rights licensed to WB.

Refilmed titles: Except for the Superman cartoons and the features sold to MCA (to end up with Universal), most television prints of these films have had their titles remade to remove most traces of their connection to Paramount (the original copyright lines were left intact on Popeye cartoons). The Popeye cartoons have been restored for DVD release with the original Paramount titles.

Post-1949 rights changes

Rights to some of Paramount's films from 1950 onward would also change hands.

Alfred Hitchcock

Most notably, the rights to five Paramount films directed by Alfred Hitchcock - Rear Window, The Trouble with Harry, The Man Who Knew Too Much, Vertigo and Psycho - eventually reverted to ownership by the director himself with the exception of Psycho, which was sold directly to Universal in 1968.

Following Hitchcock's death, Universal eventually acquired the distribution rights to the four other films (along with a former WB feature, Rope) in 1983 from the Hitchcock estate (which still holds all other ancillary rights to these films—the estate is overseen by his daughter, Patricia). However, one Hitchcock film, To Catch A Thief, is still under Paramount's ownership.

Bob Hope

The later Bob Hope films originally released by Paramount (including The Seven Little Foys and The Lemon Drop Kid) are now co-owned by Sony Pictures Television and FremantleMedia, both successors-in-interest to a joint venture called Colex Enterprises, which had consisted of respective predecessor companies Columbia Pictures Television and LBS Communications.

Jerry Lewis

Paramount's association with the comedian Jerry Lewis, which produced The Nutty Professor among other films, ended in the 1970s, and the rights to these films were given back to Lewis. As a consequence, the hit remakes starring Eddie Murphy were released by Universal Pictures.

This reversion to Jerry Lewis resulted from a promise made by then-Paramount CEO Barney Balaban who gratuitously offered to give the rights back to Lewis as a birthday present. Paramount, however, has retained full distribution rights to the Lewis films under license.

Titles merely distributed by Paramount

A number of films merely distributed by Paramount would also end up with other companies.

Films now in the WB library

  • The 1978 film adaptation of Death on the Nile is now owned by StudioCanal (the successor company to original producer EMI Films)--StudioCanal has licensed DVD rights to Lionsgate, after some years of being distributed by Anchor Bay Entertainment (the De Laurentiis Entertainment Group library was distributed by Paramount in Canada, these films are also in the StudioCanal catalog, while MGM, Anchor Bay, and Fox each own some titles in North America);
  • Paramount also no longer owns North American rights to Meatballs. US DVD rights are with Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, but other US rights are uncertain. Paramount still controls international rights.
  • Lionsgate now controls most rights to the 1987 Vietnam War film Hamburger Hill, though Paramount retains TV and Internet rights;
  • The rights to the Elvis Presley film Loving You are now held by Universal through sister company NBC, which had acquired the rights around the time it first aired on the channel. NBC and Universal merged to form NBC Universal in 2004. US video rights are currently held by Lionsgate;

Films bought by Paramount in later years

  • In 2004, Paramount bought all worldwide rights to the original 1975 version of The Stepford Wives (also released by Columbia), in connection with the release of the remake.
  • Paramount owns DVD rights to many films produced by Full Moon Entertainment, due to a deal made with the company years before. Paramount also owns DVD rights to several films released by Miramax Films prior to that firm's acquisition by Disney in 1993, also a result of a deal.
  • Additionally, Paramount owns the film libraries of many other companies that were absorbed into Republic (see the Republic Pictures and Spelling Entertainment articles for more info), again with DVD rights licensed to Lionsgate. The company also owns the film libraries of Rysher Entertainment and Bing Crosby Productions (which had been merged with Rysher in the 1990s).


In 2006, as mentioned earlier, Paramount became the parent of DreamWorks SKG. Soros Strategic Partners and Dune Entertainment II soon afterwards acquired controlling interest in the live-action films released through September 16, 2005, the latest film in this package was Just Like Heaven. The remaining live-action films through March 2006 remained under direct Paramount control.

However, Paramount does own distribution (and other ancillary) rights to the Soros/Dune films, and also owns distribution rights to the films from DreamWorks' animation department, which spun-off from DreamWorks in 2004.

Even as DreamWorks switches live-action distribution of films that are not part of existing franchises to Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, Paramount will continue to own the films released before the merger, and the films that Paramount themselves distributed (including sequel rights; such films as Little Fockers will be distributed by Paramount, since it is a sequel to an existing DreamWorks film - in this case, Meet the Parents and Meet the Fockers, though Paramount will only own international rights to this title, whereas Universal Studios will handle domestic distribution[25]).

Insurge Pictures

In March 2010 Paramount founded Insurge Pictures,[26] a distributor of "micro budget" films.[27] The distributor planned ten movies with budgets of $100,000 each.[28]

Films only owned by Paramount for TV and digital distribution

Paramount, through several transactions, acquired underlying TV and digital distribution rights to many films controlled by other companies for domestic theatrical and DVD distribution and/or other international rights.

  • Through the merger with Viacom, they gained said rights to the majority of the Cannon Films library (except Lifeforce, where said rights are owned by Sony via its initial US theatrical distribution by TriStar), owned for other media by MGM.
  • Notably, this allowed Paramount to have some involvement in the Superman franchise for the first time since selling off the Fleischer/Famous cartoons. They gained television rights to the fourth Superman film as part of the Cannon library, as well as Superman III and Supergirl - both of which were produced by the Salkinds. The latter two titles are now owned by WB for all media, but Superman IV is still part of Paramount's library for TV and digital rights (though WB did handle these rights for a three-year license between 2006–09).
  • Additionally, Paramount has TV and digital rights to some films in the Nelson Entertainment and Epic Productions catalogs, such as the Bill & Ted films - all other rights, including Nelson's later films and the copyright to Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey, reside with MGM. Paramount also has TV/digital rights to Dead Man Walking, originally from PolyGram Filmed Entertainment; MGM owns other ancillary rights.
  • These are just few examples of what Paramount controls only for TV and digital distribution. Television rights to Paramount's library, included properties owned outright, and those only for certain media, are currently held on Paramount's behalf by Trifecta Entertainment & Media. Trifecta had inherited this library from CBS Television Distribution in 2009.

The CBS library

Independent company Hollywood Classics now represents Paramount in the theatrical distribution of all the films produced by the various motion picture divisions of CBS over the years, as a result of the Viacom/CBS merger.

Paramount (via CBS DVD) has outright video distribution to the aforementioned CBS library with few exceptions-for example, the original Twilight Zone DVDs are handled by Image Entertainment. Until 2009, the video rights to My Fair Lady were with original theatrical distributor Warner Bros., under license from CBS (the video license to that film has now reverted to CBS DVD under Paramount).

The CBS-produced/owned films, unlike other films in Paramount's library, are still distributed by CBS Television Distribution on TV, and not by Trifecta Entertainment & Media, because CBS (or a subdivision) is the copyright holder for these films.

Public domain

Some other films from 1950 onward went into the public domain as well.

The rest of Paramount's library

As for distribution of the material Paramount itself still owns, it has been split in half, with Paramount themselves owning theatrical rights. But from 2006–2009, the library was distributed by CBS Television Distribution, the television distribution arm of CBS Paramount Television (now CBS Television Studios). The films are now distributed by Trifecta Entertainment & Media on television.

The dismantling of Paramount's assets today

Balaban, consistent with his other decisions to sell off rights and dismantle Paramount's library, was of the opinion that there was no future economic value to 'old' movies. This "strategy" of the gradual dismantling Paramount's assets and library has continued under current Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman who not only split the company in half and gave the television library and distribution rights to the feature films to CBS, but also sold off the Company's music library, Famous Music.


In early 2008, Paramount partnered with Los Angeles-based developer FanRocket to make short scenes taken from its film library available to users on Facebook. The application, called VooZoo, allows users to send movie clips to other Facebook users and to post clips on their profile pages.[29] Paramount engineered a similar deal with Makena Technologies to allow users of vMTV and to view and send movie clips.[30]

The Paramount Pictures logo

The distinctively pyramidal Paramount mountain has been the company's logo since its inception and is the oldest surviving Hollywood film logo. The logo appeard at the start of many cartoons. Legend has it that the mountain is based on a doodle made by W. W. Hodkinson during a meeting with Adolph Zukor. It is said to be based on the memories of his childhood in Utah. Some claim that Utah's Ben Lomond is the mountain Hodkinson doodled, and that Peru's Artesonraju[31] is the mountain in the live-action logo.

The logo began as a somewhat indistinct charcoal rendering of the mountain ringed with superimposed stars. The logo originally had twenty-four stars, as a tribute to the then current system of contracts for actors, since Paramount had twenty-four stars signed at the time. In 1952, the logo was redesigned as a matte painting created by Jan Domela. The current mountain style debuted in 1954. In 1974 the logo was simplified, adopting the design of the then-current television version, and the number of stars was changed to twenty-two; this version of the logo is still in use as Paramount's current print logo. The visual logo was replaced in 1987, Paramount's 75th Anniversary, by a version created by Apogee, Inc. with a computer generated lake and stars. For Paramount's 90th anniversary in 2002, a new, completely computer-generated logo was created.[32][33]

Not long before the United Paramount Network (UPN) was merged with The WB to form The CW Network, there were plans to re-brand UPN as The Paramount Network, featuring a stylized mountain/stars logo to identify the newly-named network with the studio, but the plans were scrapped. In contrast, UPN's initial logo from its January 1995 launch featured its initials in geometric shapes. The "U" (for "United") was in a circle, the "P" ("Paramount") in a triangle, and the "N" ("Network") in a square, with the "P" triangle being a nod to the Paramount mountain.

Visiting Paramount

Those wishing to visit Paramount can take daily studio tours. The tours operate Monday through Friday. Reservations are required, and can be made by calling the studio. Most of the buildings are named for historical Paramount executives or the many great artists that worked at Paramount over the years. Many of the legendary stars' dressing rooms are still standing today, converted into working offices. The stages where Samson and Delilah, Sunset Blvd., White Christmas, Rear Window, Sabrina, Breakfast at Tiffany's, and many other classic films were shot are still in use today. The studio's massive remaining backlot set, "New York Street," features numerous blocks of facades that depict a number of New York locales: "Washington Square," (where The Heiress, starring Olivia de Havilland, was shot) "Harlem," "Financial District," and others.

See also



  1. ^ "". 2009-12-31. Retrieved 2010-01-07. 
  2. ^ "". Retrieved 2010-01-07. 
  3. ^ "". Retrieved 2010-01-07. 
  4. ^ "". Retrieved 2010-01-07. 
  5. ^ GeoCities.com6
  6. ^ 07:23 PM. "". Retrieved 2010-01-07. 
  7. ^ "". Retrieved 2010-01-07. 
  8. ^ Spadoni, M. (June 2003). DuMont: America's First "Fourth Network". Television Heaven. Retrieved on December 28, 2006.
  9. ^ McDowell, W. (March 30, 2001). Remembering the DuMont Network: A Case Study Approach. College of Mass Communication and Media Arts. Southern Illinois University. Retrieved on December 28, 2006.
  10. ^ "". Retrieved 2010-01-07. 
  11. ^ "". 2006-10-12. Retrieved 2010-01-07. 
  12. ^ Gregg Kilday (2004-06-03). "". Retrieved 2010-01-07. 
  13. ^ Susman, Gary (2004-11-02). "".,,750351,00.html. Retrieved 2010-01-07. 
  14. ^ "". Retrieved 2010-01-07. 
  15. ^ "". 1998-03-15. Retrieved 2010-01-07. 
  16. ^ "". Retrieved 2010-01-07. 
  17. ^ a b "Digital Cinema Initiatives (DCI) November 20, 2008 ERRATA TO DCI DIGITAL CINEMA SYSTEM SPECIFICATION, VERSION 1.2". Retrieved 2010-01-07. 
  18. ^ DreamWorks Executives Sever Ties With Paramount to Form a New Company
  19. ^
  20. ^ "Paramount says yes to both Blu-ray and HD DVD - Engadget". Engadget<!. Retrieved 2010-01-07. 
  21. ^ "Historical HD DVD Release Dates | High Def Digest". Retrieved 2010-01-07. 
  22. ^ "Historical Blu-ray Release Dates | High Def Digest". Retrieved 2010-01-07. 
  23. ^ "Two Studios to Support HD DVD Over Rival". New York Times. August 21, 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-21. 
  24. ^ "Blu-ray releases on May 20th, 2008 - Engadget HD". Engadget HD<!. Retrieved 2010-01-07. 
  25. ^
  26. ^ Paramount Unveiling Micro-Budget Arm: Insurge Pictures
  27. ^ Hollywood Studio to Back Micro-Budget Movies
  28. ^ Paramount Pictures Announces Micro-Budget Unit Insurge Pictures
  29. ^ Nakashima, Ryan (2008-03-11). "Facebook app lets users send movie clips". Retrieved 2010-01-07. 
  30. ^ Lang, Derrik J. (2008-04-03). "Paramount to open virtual movie vault". Retrieved 2010-01-07. 
  31. ^ "Artesonraju - Climbing, Hiking & Mountaineering". SummitPost. Retrieved 2010-01-07. 
  32. ^ Paramount Film Preservation
  33. ^ "Studio Logos - Paramount". Hollywood Lost and Found. Retrieved 2010-01-07. 



  • Berg, A. Scott. Goldwyn. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1989.
  • DeMille, Cecil B. Autobiography. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1959.
  • Eames, John Douglas, with additional text by Robert Abele. The Paramount Story: The Complete History of the Studio and Its Films. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2002.
  • Evans, Robert. The Kid Stays in the Picture. New York: Hyperion Press, 1994.
  • Gabler, Neal. An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood. New York: Crown Publishers, 1988.
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  • Mordden, Ethan. The Hollywood Studios. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1988.
  • Schatz, Thomas. The Genius of the System. New York: Pantheon, 1988.
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External links


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