The show goes on for Paramount with ‘Gladiator II,’ a new Damien Chazelle movie and more

LAS VEGAS — With reports and rumors swirling about possible mergers and bids to acquire Paramount, the film studio put its best foot forward for theater owners at CinemaCon on Thursday.

The historic studio announced a new film with Oscar-winning “La La Land” director Damien Chazelle, a “G.I. Joe/Transformers” crossover and that Glen Powell will star in Edgar Wight’s “Running Man” reboot.

Paramount CEO and President Brian Robbins also teased some more that are in development, including a Bee Gees film from Ridley Scott, a new comedy from Trey Parker and Matt Stone, a “Star Trek” origin story, a new “Scary Movie” and an R-rated live action “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin” as well as an animated “Mutant Mayhem” sequel.

They also brought out stars like Chris Hemsworth and Lupita Nyong’o to talk about their upcoming films, with video messages from Scott, Denzel Washington and Paul Mescal, who helped introduce new footage from “Gladiator II.”

Washington promised, “Emotion, action and spectacle unlike anything else you’re going to see in theaters this year.”

Paramount had a positive start to 2024 with successful releases like “Mean Girls” and “Bob Marley: One Love,” and some major films to come this year including “A Quiet Place: Day One” (June 28), the animated “Transformers One” (Sept. 13), a “Smile” sequel (Oct. 18) and the “Gladiator” sequel (Nov. 22). They will also re-release Christopher Nolan’s “Interstellar” in September for its 10th anniversary, and, in 2025, “Mission: Impossible 8.” But hovering over it all are the reports of the company’s sale.

The private-equity firm Apollo Global reportedly offered $11 billion to acquire the studio, which has filmed entertainment, television and streaming components like Paramount+. There have also been reports of a possible merger with Skydance, David Ellison’s media company that has helped produce such Paramount releases as “Top Gun: Maverick” and “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning.”

Without directly addressing them, Paramount leaned into the chatter with Robbins joking that the studio’s distribution head Chris Aronson has started a Kickstarter to throw his hat into the ring.

While the tone at CinemaCon, a weeklong gathering of theater owners, exhibitors and all the various companies involved in movie theater operations and experiences, is usually overwhelmingly positive, Aronson took a more sober approach.

After entering the presentation in a Roman chariot holding a shield emblazoned with the Paramount logo, he noted that the industry has lost a fair amount of frequent moviegoers and must work to get them back with capital improvements to theaters and other innovations.

The domestic box office has improved year after year since the pandemic, but is still about $2 billion shy of where the business was pre-pandemic.

“Our industry is at a turning point,” Aronson said. “It’s quite clear that moviegoers still love going to the movies, but we as an industry must do better.”

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