I was making the rounds at the Killer Films 10th anniversary party last nigth as buzz intensified about the situation at Paramount Classics. New studio chief Brad Grey had told company co-presidents Ruth Vitale and David Dinerstein (pictured right) that he wouldn’t be renewing their contracts.
How fitting that I immediately bumped into Bob Berney and John Sloss, two guys who had considered taking over at Paramount Classics. As the evening wore on and I stepped outside numerous times to take calls and get the story the significance of the news really began to set in. While the stalwart Sony Pictures Classics shows no signs of slowing down, all around them the era of the studio-owned specialty division supporting art, indie and foreign films is over. Fine Line, UA, old Miramax, October…all killed by big Hollywood. The delicate balance of Indiewood, mixing high-profile productions with edgier fare, has paved the way for Hollywood mini-majors like the new Miramax, Fox Searchlight, Focus, Lions Gate, Warner Independent, and now the new Paramount Classics.
In my indieWIRE story, I reported the news, but down deep in the piece is a section I’ll highlight to summarize the current situation:
For many on the Paramount Classics team, the news feels like the end of an era, not only for the veritable unit that released nearly 60 films since it began in early 1998, but it also marks the near extinction of the studio specialty units of old. Gone are days when “classics divisions” competed to acquire and release foreign language, documentary, indie and art pictures. With the exception of Sony Pictures Classics, the divisions have evolved into mini-majors making bigger budget, star-driven movies and aiming for Oscars. Some veterans of the 90s art house and specialty film boom have started their own smaller, independent companies, while others are out of work or serving as consultants.