Monday, June 17, 2024

Paramount Peril as “Zoolander 2” May Lose $80Mil, Cause Huge Layoffs, Cash Crunch


Paramount Pictures is in a lot of trouble, I am sorry to say. “Zoolander 2” is a big part of the problem. The Ben Stiller comedy may have lost $80 million, according to sources. Marketing alone for the disappointing release may actually come to $90 million. This is possible considering the international premieres, etc.

“Zoolander 2” now has made less money in its first two weeks than “Zoolander” 1 made in its first two weeks in 2001. As of today, “2” has taken in just $24 million. It’s already running about $6 million behind “1” and that gap will widen. That’s a huge disaster because “Z2” was made with the idea that the time was right and it would eclipse the earlier, not successful film. This guess was wrong. “Z2” has done a little better internationally but not much. And in the end, the marketing wasn’t the issue: there was no movie.

(Still no word what effect that had on sales of Vogue. Anna Wintour really went all in on “Zoolander 2,” even appearing in it with spoken lines. Turns out she stuffed herself into a huge turkey.)

This on top of news today– which I heard a few days ago– that Viacom is offering a minority stake in Paramount to outsiders. The people who run Paramount are smart, but they have had a tough time lately. “Daddy’s Home” did well, but the rest of the recent slate, including even the Oscar nominated “The Big Short” has not made much of a dent at the box office.

“Zoolander 2” is not the only disappointment. “Benghazi” from Michael Bay is a bust at $51 million. No one wanted to see it. But Paramount knew that, dumping it in the first week of January.

I’m told there’s been talk in the executive suite of several remedies including, alarmingly, layoffs that could total over 1,000 people. Other ideas bandied about were the Paramount-Viacom sale, as it has emerged, and the sale of real estate.

Fortunes should turn around later this year. “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” could be a sleeper hit. “Star Trek Beyond” and “Jack Reacher 2” are on the agenda, and should be big hits. There’s a “Tin Tin” movie and a “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” coming in 2016, also likely hits. And 2017 looks even better.

But for now, not even an icy stare from Derek Zoolander is going to stop the current trouble. Knowing Brad Grey and co., they will prevail. These things are cyclical, to be sure.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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