Paramount Pictures was revitalized in 2018 with the success of Mission: Impossible—Fallout (the biggest film in that long-running franchise), Bumblebee, and the sleeper horror hit A Quiet Place. In all, the studio generated $1.1 billion at the box office last year.
Key to that success were Mark Viane, Paramount’s president of international theatrical distribution, and Mary Daily, co-president, worldwide marketing and distribution, who will be honored with the “International Distributor of the Year” award at CineEurope.
Viane joined Paramount in 2007 as senior VP of theatrical distribution for Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA). He was subsequently promoted to roles as senior VP, theatrical distribution, Asia-Pacific and Latin America, and co-president, international theatrical distribution and marketing.
Daily joined Paramount Pictures in 2017 as president of international theatrical marketing and worldwide home media entertainment, after nine years at 20th Century Fox. In her current role, she is responsible for the design, development, and implementation of all elements of marketing.
Paramount’s 2019 slate includes the high-energy Elton John biopic Rocketman, Terminator: Dark Fate, Dora and the Lost City of Gold, and Ang Lee’s groundbreaking Gemini Man. Coming up in 2020 are Tiffany Haddish and Rose Byrne in Limited Partners, Sonic the Hedgehog, the John Cena action comedy Playing with Fire, and sequels to Top Gun, Coming to America, A Quiet Place, and G.I. Joe.
Viane and Daily spoke to Boxoffice about their proudest accomplishments and what’s in store at this legendary studio.
Mark, how has the business changed since you joined Paramount in 2007?
Mark Viane: I initially started with United International Pictures in 1996, when box office split between international and domestic was roughly one-to-one. The international marketplace has grown significantly since then, now representing close to 70 percent of worldwide box office. International is now a crucial driving force on decision making rather than the afterthought it once was.
Mary, the same question for you: What industry changes have you noted since you arrived at Fox in 2008?
Mary Daily: In the past ten years, there has been a huge proliferation of content and more consumer entertainment choice than ever before. As such, delivering consumers a true theatrical experience has become increasingly important and a key differentiator for our business.
What are your proudest accomplishments at Paramount?
Viane: I was very proud to be a part of the team when Paramount Pictures International was the first studio ever to break the $3 billion box office threshold in 2011. And I continue to be proud to work with the very professional and talented team we have in place around the world.
Daily: I feel very proud to be part of the Paramount team. This is one of the oldest movie studios, with an incredible storied past and in my mind a great future ahead. I am really happy to play a part in shaping the future together with my amazing colleagues around the world.
What films are you most gratified to have worked on?
Daily: Our slate is so diverse that each movie brings with it different challenges and opportunities which are really energizing. As a huge music fan, the most recent highlight has been working on Rocketman. The movie delivers a truly unique theatrical experience. A real audio/visual spectacle. It’s a very special movie in so many ways.
Viane: There are so many films that I have been proud to work on, but last year I was incredibly proud to work on A Quiet Place and turn the film into a major box office success along with the filmmakers. It was such a unique film with very little dialogue, yet it was so effective in its storytelling. We believed in this film from conception and now we are making a sequel. Recently, I was also very proud to have worked on Rocketman.
Now that there’s one less major in the marketplace, what kind of impact does that have on Paramount?
Daily: With our increasing slate, I think we are well placed to take advantage of the increased growth in interest and appetite for movies around the world.
Viane: It makes our partnership with exhibition ever more important, so we can ensure that each and every market is well served with great movies.
Which territories are experiencing the most rapid growth?
Daily: China continues to be a major growth market along with Indonesia and Vietnam. We also see future growth opportunities within Asia in markets like Cambodia and Myanmar.
Viane: The Middle East is also a market that has steady growth, but the real box office opportunity is in Saudi Arabia.
What are the biggest challenges of overseeing so many territories?
Daily: Ensuring that you understand the cultural nuances and needs of the territories. It is not one size fits all, and being able to adapt campaigns to ensure the movies resonate in each market takes time at every level. We are committed to maximizing each of our releases with attentiveness to different territories’ various needs.
Viane: To add to that, managing your time effectively and efficiently is always a challenge, as we strive to give every market and team member the time and energy they deserve. Every market is incredibly important to the company—and our films.
Tell me about Paramount chairman Jim Gianopulos and his leadership.
Daily: This is my third time working for Jim and that’s no coincidence. He is super-smart and has great instincts, not to mention the energy of a 25-year-old! His leadership style is direct and inclusive and you learn from him every day. And he is a really good person—not a given in this industry.
Viane: This is my first time working for Jim, and I have never been more excited to work with such an energetic and knowledgeable leader. Jim embodies the best characteristics of a great boss and fully supports and cares for the people within the organization. Under his leadership, the studio is back on a path of greatness.
Which of your upcoming films are you most excited about? Is there a film that’s going to surprise people?
Viane: With Paramount’s slate having increased dramatically for 2020, we are very excited about Ang Lee’s Gemini Man starring Will Smith, Sonic the Hedgehog, the A Quiet Place sequel directed by John Krasinksi and starring Emily Blunt, The SpongeBob SquarePants movie (20th anniversary), and of course Top Gun starring Tom Cruise, among others.
Daily: Honestly,I am really excited about the diversity of our overall slate. We have movies that are broad in appeal to a wide audience, alongside movies that are made for specific audiences.
Do you expect to explore more legacy titles like Top Gun and Coming to America?
Daily: Paramount has one of the richest catalogues of any studio; that combined with the studio’s approach to working across the Viacom network opens up endless opportunities. Obviously, we look at every potential project on a case-by-case basis and evaluate the needs and desires of the marketplace in assessing what audiences will respond to. Even in these early stages, the response to and chatter around the Top Gun and Coming to America sequels reinforce audience enthusiasm for these properties. So certainly looking forward, we’ll continue to explore which legacy titles might be ripe for a reprisal.
What efforts are you making to bring diversity to your slate?
Daily: While fostering diversity is an ongoing undertaking, recently our efforts have included the formation of a Content Creation Council in partnership with Viacom’s Global Inclusion Advisory Committee. The Council aims to promote diversity from the pre-greenlighting process and requires productions to complete a plan designed to enhance access and opportunities for historically underrepresented groups in the industry.
What are your feelings about the overall health of theatrical film in this new streaming era?
Viane: The theatrical film market isn’t only alive and well, it’s actually thriving. The industry is coming off a record box office take worldwide, and we see no signs of a slowdown. Going to the movie theater is the best way to experience a film, as the audience becomes fully immersed in the world on the screen. Streaming a film in your home or on your mobile device is such a different experience than watching a film in a theater. Cinemas today are creating the best moviegoing experience ever, as the proliferation of the premium large formats has really raised the bar for incredible entertainment.
Daily: Since the beginning of cinema, every time there is a new format or major development in the industry, there are always concerns over the health of theatrical film. While there is a proliferation of content and options, there is still nothing like the communal experience of cinema, which has delighted audiences for over 100 years. The ever-increasing role of technology in our everyday lives makes the cinematic experience more valuable than ever: It is a true opportunity for audiences to unplug and give their full attention to the storytelling experience.