Paramount No. 2 Executive Said Leaving After Movie Writedown

  • Vice Chairman Rob Moore was second in command to CEO Brad Grey
  • With studio since 2005, executive oversaw unit’s operations

Paramount Pictures Vice Chairman Rob Moore is leaving the troubled movie division of Viacom Inc., according to a person with knowledge of the matter, days after the parent company said it will record a $115 million charge for a film that hasn’t even been released.

The studio doesn’t plan to replace Moore, said the person, who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly and requested anonymity.

The writedown points to the deepening problems at Paramount. The studio was already in last place among the major studios in domestic box-office receipts and was expected to report a loss for the year ended Sept. 30 before this week’s announcement from Viacom that a major picture was in trouble.

The film division has “performed terribly,” said Brian Wieser, an analyst at Pivotal Research Group LLC. “If you are going to have a small slate, it better do well and it clearly hasn’t.”

Moore, who’s been with Paramount since 2005, is the highest-level casualty at the studio, which is writing down its investment in the unreleased picture “Monster Trucks.” The family movie, in the works since 2013, has been delayed three times and is currently scheduled for release in January, according to ComScore, an industry website.

Moore couldn’t be reached for comment. He was an advocate for selling a stake in the studio, according to the person. The parent company has since decided not to seek an outsider investor in Paramount.

More Turnover?

Viacom, also the owner of MTV and Comedy Central, is in the midst of a management and governance overhaul after the company’s controlling shareholders, billionaire Sumner Redstone and his daughter Shari, ousted the company’s two top officers and replaced much of the board. Interim Chief Executive Officer Tom Dooley is slated to step down in November.
The company said on Thursday that it reorganized its ad sales department.

Wieser at Pivotal said there will likely be more turnover at Viacom.

“I suspect it is not done yet,” Wieser said. Typically, a new CEO will bring in executives that they have worked with and trust, he said.

Shares of Viacom have fallen more than 50 percent in the past two years as the company’s TV networks have lost viewers and ad sales to new media. The stock fell 0.9 percent to $35.50 at the close in New York.

Strategy Review

Divisional executives, including Paramount CEO Brad Grey, recently met with the board to review operating plans.

Grey, who’s run the studio since 2005 and is ultimately responsible for its choices and poor performance, won a public statement of support from Shari Redstone last month.

“Under Brad’s leadership, Paramount has taken significant, successful steps to broaden and strengthen its business, and we are confident that Brad and his team have the skills, relationships and resources necessary to return Paramount to success in its movie business and continue its rapid growth in television,” Redstone and Dooley said in the statement.

As vice chairman, Moore oversaw broad swaths of Paramount, including marketing, distribution, home entertainment, digital, interactive, TV, licensing, and business affairs. He joined the company as president of marketing, distribution and operations. The Hollywood Reporter reported on his departure earlier Friday.

‘Monster Trucks’

“Monster Trucks” cost $125 million to make, according to Imdb.com, an industry website. The film, which features Rob Lowe, Amy Ryan and Danny Glover, is about a high school senior who builds a monster truck and meets an otherworldy creature who is able to crawl inside the vehicle and act as a supercharged engine, according to a summary from Fandango, the ticketing website.

Movie writedowns aren’t unprecedented, though they usually happen after a studio has released a picture in theaters and has collected enough box-office results to conclude the film won’t recoup its costs.

In January 2015, DreamWorks Animation recorded $155 million in writedowns on unreleased film projects, such as “Monkeys of Mumbai.” The studio also pulled “B.O.O.: Bureau of Otherworldly Operations” from its schedule.

“I suspect it is not done yet,” Wieser said. Typically, a new CEO will bring in executives that they have worked with and trust, he said.

Shares of Viacom have fallen more than 50 percent in the past two years as the company’s TV networks have lost viewers and ad sales to new media. The stock fell 0.9 percent to $35.50 at the close in New York.

Strategy Review

Divisional executives, including Paramount CEO Brad Grey, recently met with the board to review operating plans.

Grey, who’s run the studio since 2005 and is ultimately responsible for its choices and poor performance, won a public statement of support from Shari Redstone last month.

“Under Brad’s leadership, Paramount has taken significant, successful steps to broaden and strengthen its business, and we are confident that Brad and his team have the skills, relationships and resources necessary to return Paramount to success in its movie business and continue its rapid growth in television,” Redstone and Dooley said in the statement.

As vice chairman, Moore oversaw broad swaths of Paramount, including marketing, distribution, home entertainment, digital, interactive, TV, licensing, and business affairs. He joined the company as president of marketing, distribution and operations. The Hollywood Reporter reported on his departure earlier Friday.

‘Monster Trucks’

“Monster Trucks” cost $125 million to make, according to Imdb.com, an industry website. The film, which features Rob Lowe, Amy Ryan and Danny Glover, is about a high school senior who builds a monster truck and meets an otherworldy creature who is able to crawl inside the vehicle and act as a supercharged engine, according to a summary from Fandango, the ticketing website.

Movie writedowns aren’t unprecedented, though they usually happen after a studio has released a picture in theaters and has collected enough box-office results to conclude the film won’t recoup its costs.

In January 2015, DreamWorks Animation recorded $155 million in writedowns on unreleased film projects, such as “Monkeys of Mumbai.” The studio also pulled “B.O.O.: Bureau of Otherworldly Operations” from its schedule.

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