To say that Paramount is having a pretty horrible 2012, which unfortunately coincides with their 100th anniversary, would be an understatement. With two movies bumped to 2013 — “Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters” and “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” — while “World War Z” goes through a pretty public and ugly reshoot and rewrite process to try and salvage a picture that currently is only half good and has Brad Pitt and director Marc Forster at odds, it’s no surprise honchos are looking to find any silver lining they can. And it looks like Tom Cruise may be that hope.
Of course, he’s already anchoring their mega-successful “Mission: Impossible” franchise, but later this year he’ll kick ass in “Jack Reacher” in what should be another blockbuster-sized hit. And eager to capitalize on it is Paramount parent Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman, who told investors at the Goldman Sachs Annual Communacopia Conference that he’s “hoping to create new franchise” out of the character and books. Well, duh. Way back in May when the title was officially changed from “One Shot” to “Jack Reacher,” we predicted as much. The movie is based on the book by Lee Child, and every entry in the series is stamped “A Jack Reacher Novel.” Basically, “Jack Reacher” allows audiences to get to know the name while allowing for potential future movies to be branded “Jack Reacher: [Put Book Title Here]” or whatever.
But perhaps the most interesting nugget out of that conference comes from Dauman’s revelation about the future Paramount slate. With “Jack Reacher,” “Jack Ryan,” “Star Trek,” “G.I. Joe,” and “Transfomers” as arguably the biggest properties on their slate, he reveals that essentially, originality is going to be tossed out the window. “We reduced the number of releases to about 15 a year and focused on existing franchises, developing new franchises, and developing our brands,” he told investors, which is basically another way of saying they are playing things mostly very, very safe and predictable.
Just to make that clear: franchises, franchises, brand. Ugh. We can’t say we’re really surprised because that’s the direction major studios are going these days, preferring to bet a few big horses, rather than the approach they had back in the day in which mid-sized movies also had a chance to shine. But that’s the way things are blowing these days, at least until a few of these expensive movies tank hard and spending $50 million on a movie instead of $150 million looks attractive again. But for now, it looks like there will be even more Cruise/Reacher to come as part of the studio’s franchise/franchise/brand approach. [Deadline]