Paramount Unveils New Speciality Film Unit
Paramount Pictures has unveiled a new division - Paramount Vantage - releasing low-budget films with broad appeal to capture indie film audiences. Studio chairman Brad Gray is reshaping Paramount and the new unit is a first move for John Lesher, who recently took the reins at Paramount's specialty film unit, Paramount Classics.
Paramount Vantage plans to release eight to 10 films a year from low-budget comedies and horror films to sophisticated art house fare, like Babel, starring Brad Pitt, premiering at Cannes this week.
Studio speciality divisions working low budget have become more and more important to the majors. Their films are relatively cheap to make, but if they are successful they can make studios a lot of money. A prime example is Brokeback Mountain which Focus Features - the speciality division of Universal Pictures - made for $14m. It took $178m worldwide at the box office.
After taking over at Paramount Pictures in 2005, Gray intended revamping speciality division Paramount Classics. He hired Lesher to overhaul it.
The company says Paramount Classics will continue, but will concentrate on narrow appeal films, like foreign language movies or documentaries like An Inconvenient Truth, which is also screening at Cannes. Lesher will oversee both speciality divisions.
In 2007 Paramount Vantage will release Joel and Ethan Coen's No Country for Old Men, and Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood.