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What's Next for Paramount? Potential Future Changes Explained

What’s Next for Paramount? Potential Future Changes Explained

Skydance and Paramount deal image

Skydance’s deal to take control of Paramount Global will result in a leadership change at the company. The merger will likely lead to inevitable restructuring and layoffs, as is common with corporate mergers.

For the consumers of Paramount’s products, such as feature films like the Mission: Impossible and Star Trek franchises, and TV and streaming shows like NCIS, Yellowstone, and The Daily Show, the immediate impact is expected to be minimal. The deal is not projected to be finalized until early next year.

Looking further ahead, some changes could be in store. Skydance CEO David Ellison and former NBCUniversal chairman Jeff Shell, who will serve as president of the new company, are promising a “fresh approach” rather than sweeping changes. Layoffs and operational streamlining are, however, likely.

David Ellison and Tom Cruise

David Ellison and Tom Cruise at the London premiere of Top Gun: Maverick in 2022.

Ellison is known for his ambition to produce big-budget spectacles, even when past projects have not always been successful. His first film, Flyboys (2006), cost $65 million but only earned $18 million. Despite this, Ellison gained recognition after financing the Coen brothers’ True Grit, a film that received multiple Oscar nominations. Soon after, he signed a co-financing deal with Paramount for big-budget movies, saving films like World War Z (2013) by co-financing them.

The merger is seen as a win for consumers, positioning Ellison at the helm of a legacy Hollywood studio that might otherwise have been absorbed by another major company. At 41, Ellison brings a youthful perspective to the table. Insiders say Ellison plans to be very hands-on in the creative process, delegating the business aspects to Shell, a known disruptor in the industry.

Shell’s previous role at NBCUniversal saw him shorten the theatrical window to make movies available for digital rental more quickly. Despite his controversial departure from NBCU, Shell is expected to bring his disruptive approach to the new Paramount.

Maxx Crosby and Tracy Wolfson

Maxx Crosby of the Las Vegas Raiders interviews with CBS Sports’ Tracy Wolfson in 2023.

In public comments, Ellison and Shell emphasized the importance of CBS to Paramount. CBS, which owns a substantial portion of the NFL’s media rights, has led in viewership for 16 straight years. The network’s series are consistently among the most-watched on Paramount+. “CBS is a cornerstone asset for this transaction,” Shell stated, adding that they would keep a keen eye on cash flow at the network.

Shell hinted at making tough decisions regarding time periods and spending, reminiscent of his tenure at NBCUniversal where he considered cutting the last hour of network primetime. Such moves could significantly alter the network’s schedule or result in lower spending per hour of primetime, affecting long-running shows.

Zoe Saldana in Special Ops: Lioness

Zoe Saldana in Paramount+’s Special Ops: Lioness.

Ellison, Shell, and Redbird Capital Partners’ Gerry Cardinale discussed Paramount+’s potential as a technology leader among streaming platforms. They envision enhancing the recommendation engine, ad-tech capabilities, and expanding into a media and technology company. However, they didn’t delve deeply into the content available on Paramount+, which hosts much of Taylor Sheridan’s work and will be the home for any Yellowstone sequels or continuations.

While CBS shows and live sports streams attract viewers, and series within the Sheridan and Star Trek franchises perform well, Paramount+ lacks a major breakout original show. The Skydance team aims to change that, given their success with hits like Reacher and Jack Ryan for Amazon’s Prime Video.

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

Comedy Central’s The Daily Show With Jon Stewart.

As the Skydance-Paramount deal progresses, Paramount Network is expected to see a surge in viewership for the final episodes of Yellowstone. Comedy Central has experienced growth with The Daily Show since Jon Stewart’s partial return. However, many of these networks offer little in the way of original programming, relying heavily on reruns and reality shows. BET has the most original series among Paramount’s cable channels, which the company is reportedly interested in selling.

The future of Paramount’s cable properties remains uncertain, especially as multichannel subscription numbers continue to decline. The new Paramount aims to “restructure and elevate” the brands of MTV, Comedy Central, and Nickelodeon, but how they plan to achieve this is still unclear.

Star Trek franchise

Paramount’s crown jewel franchise: Star Trek.

Paramount has rebounded in the post-pandemic era, thanks largely to its marquee franchises. Star Trek, a 60-year-old franchise, is a key asset, although its box office performance has been inconsistent. Two Star Trek films are currently in development: a prequel focusing on humanity’s early contact with aliens and the formation of the Federation, and a sequel featuring Chris Pine and his crew.

Top Gun: Maverick was a massive success, earning $1.493 billion. A threequel is in development, but it may not be released soon. The Mission: Impossible franchise will see its eighth installment released on May 23, 2025, continuing Tom Cruise’s groundbreaking action filmmaking. Skydance’s involvement has been crucial to the franchise’s success.

Additionally, Skydance controls the rights to the Terminator franchise, although no new films have been released since Terminator: Dark Fate in 2019. They also collaborate on Hasbro’s Transformers and G.I. Joe, with plans for a crossover movie starring Chris Hemsworth.

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