Paramount Vantage Becomes Latest Specialty Film Division To Bite The Dust

The increasing cost of releasing independent films has forced Paramount to absorb the marketing, distribution and production departments of Paramount Vantage.

Variety:Paramount is folding the marketing, distribution and physical production departments of Paramount Vantage into the larger studio. Three people will be laid off.

Move comes on the heels of other recent developments that prove specialty labels are feeling the economic pinch. Time Warner turned New Line Cinema into a production label in April, laying off 450 staffers, and then in May shuttered Warner Independent Pictures and Picturehouse…

[Founder John] Lesher put Vantage on the map with a slate of movies driven by such high-profile stars and filmmakers as Angelina Jolie, Daniel Day-Lewis, Nicole Kidman, Tommy Lee Jones, the Coen brothers and former client Paul Thomas Anderson. But he learned how easily money flows out the door — and how slowly it trickles back in — in a brutally competitive crowded niche market.

Lesher threw marketing cash at “Babel” and “An Inconvenient Truth” to establish the label. But two Paramount holdovers — Craig Brewer’s exploitation pic “Black Snake Moan” and National Geographic’s “Arctic Tale” — stumbled at the box office, as did Mike White’s quirky Molly Shannon comedy “Year of the Dog.”

But Vantage’s biggest misfire was Lesher’s $14 million passion project “A Mighty Heart,” starring Jolie as Mariane Pearl, wife of the murdered Wall Street Journal reporter. Domestic gross was only $9 million. Other disappointments stacked up such as “Margot at the Wedding” and Sundance pickups “Son of Rambow” — which cost $7 million — and “How She Move.”

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