Inside Paramount’s 2020 Survival Strategy: Earn More Selling Off Films Than Releasing Them

According to analysts, the studio has earned $450 million so far this year from Q1 releases and selling titles to streamers

2020 was supposed to be a strong box office year for Paramount Pictures, but the pandemic-fueled shutdown of theaters had the studio look at different ways to succeed financially. The studio has begun offloading at least five of its films to streamers — including Aaron Sorkin’s “The Trial of the Chicago 7” — a survival strategy that seems to be paying off at a time when no studio can count on box office returns from movie theaters that remain closed or operate at limited capacity.

Paramount has sold Netflix Aaron Sorkin’s fact-based drama “The Trial of the Chicago 7” (for a reported $56 million), “SpongeBob: Sponge on the Run,” an untitled Ryan Reynolds/Shawn Levy adventure film that has yet to shoot and the Issa Rae-Kumail Nanjiani rom-com “The Lovebirds” that one insider said sold in the high-$20 million/low-$30 million range. Meanwhile, Amazon Studios is closing in on a reported $125 million deal for Eddie Murphy’s “Coming 2 America” as well as a separate sale of the upcoming Jack Ryan spinoff “Without Remorse” starring Michael B. Jordan.

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Beatrice Verhoeven, PWS

Beatrice Verhoeven

Film Editor, Twitter: @bverhoev

Jeremy Fuster

Box Office Reporter • • Twitter: @jeremyfuster