- Brian Robbins succeeds Jim Gianopulos at the head of the famous film studio Paramount Pictures.
- The former actor, producer and CEO of digital store AwesomenessTV brings a unique resume to the role.
- Robbins provided Paramount + with user-friendly projects like an “iCarly” reboot and a “Paw Patrol” movie.
- See more stories on the Insider business page.
Paramount Pictures’ new film boss Brian Robbins has a resume unlike any other in Hollywood. He certainly doesn’t have much in common with the resume of Jim Gianopulos, the longtime executive of the studio he replaces.
Robbins founded digital video store AwesomenessTV and turned it into a $ 650 million business before joining ViacomCBS, first as director of the movie label Paramount Players and more recently as president of entertainment for children and family, including the Nickelodeon network.
Robbins’ inexperience in a traditional film studio caused grunts among Hollywood’s old guard – a rival clinging to the Hollywood Reporter that he “never made or supervised a ‘wow’ movie in his life.” But the Brooklyn native, former actor, producer and director, has his industry boosters.
“It’s not a suit,” said producer Joe Davola, who worked with Robbins at production company Tollin / Robbins before co-founding AwesomenessTV with him in 2012. “He’s creative and he’s a brilliant man. business. ”
ViacomCBS declined to make Robbins available for an interview.
Robbins, 57, is assuming leadership of Paramount at an inflection point as pandemic shutdowns have forced Paramount to unload titles like “Coming 2 America” and “The Lovebirds” to stream.
While Paramount is planning traditional launches for “Mission: Impossible 7” and “Top Gun: Maverick,” Robbins will also be tasked with serving another master, the Paramount + subscription service.
During his three years at the helm of Nickelodeon, Robbins fostered content that boosted the streamer, providing him with a reboot of “iCarly,” a spin-off series “SpongeBob SquarePants” and “PAW Patrol: The Movie,” which has grossed $ 103 million at the global box office even though it premiered on Paramount + on the same day it debuted in theaters.
Those who know him have told Insider that Robbins exhibits digital instincts that are rare among studio bosses. “At every step he has always been ahead of his time,” UTA CEO Jeremy Zimmer said in a statement; the agency helped incubate AwesomenessTV in its early days.
Awesomeness introduced Robbins’ forecasting ability. As CEO, he has regularly told the story of how, while producing youth-centric hits like “One Tree Hill” and “Smallville,” he discovered that his own young sons were glued to their phones instead of the TV in their living room.
Davola recalled that Robbins initially pitched the idea of digital programming first to Nickelodeon – where he spent much of the 1990s and his early days producing the variety show “All That” and its spinoff. After the network disappeared, he founded Awesomeness and funded it through YouTube’s original $ 100 million channel initiative. Robbins sold the company to Jeffrey Katzenberg’s DreamWorks Animation for $ 33 million a year later. (Awesomeness’ valuation soared to $ 650 million after Verizon bought a stake in 2016. It was sold to Viacom for less than $ 100 million in 2018.)
“He really thinks about the consumer,” said a seasoned executive who knows Robbins well and requested anonymity to speak candidly about the challenges and opportunities for the new head of Paramount. “He doesn’t approach things from a place of privilege or superiority. He’s always been fascinated by what fans, especially younger audiences, react and like and why.”
Colleagues describe Robbins as someone who is, as Davola put it, “very good with creative people” thanks to his own experience as an actor (his most publicized role was on the ABC sitcom “Head of the Class “) and director of films like” Varsity Blues “(as well as the notable” Norbit “flop).
“He taught me to be open and to hear people – and also to listen to the public,” said “To all the boys I’ve loved before” producer Matt Kaplan, who ran the cinema arm of AwesomenessTV under Robbins and signed a contract with Paramount.
Robbins has built his career speaking to young audiences, a cohort that will be essential in helping Paramount + catch up with its streaming rivals. ViacomCBS doesn’t release figures for Paramount + but says it has 42 million streaming subscribers in total.
Those who hit the release of Robbins’ feature films “don’t dismiss how much he enjoys film and television history,” the veteran executive said, adding that Robbins “doesn’t let the old ways of thinking the blind to the way consumers behave “.
This executive also pointed out that Robbins’ biggest advantage might simply be his confidence in the kind of high-profile role that many see as precarious at this time of transformation in Hollywood.
“He really has ‘fuck you’ money. He can quit this job anytime.”