Hollywood Reacts To Skydance-Paramount Deal: Dean Devlin Says David Ellison “No Bean Counter … A Creative First”; Theater Owners Boss “Encouraged”


For some in Hollywood, there’s a sigh of relief in Skydance’s $8 billion takeover of Paramount: A legacy motion picture studio and entertainment conglom will largely remain standing. This versus if Sony had actually won Paramount, in which case we’d be looking at a potential reduction in theatrical releases, a maneuver that would greatly impact both the greater production and exhibition ecosystem.

Dean Devlin, who produced the 2006 movie Flyboys, which starred a young David Ellison, praised the financier-producer’s talents Monday as an exec who’ll be prime to run a studio, and one whose creativity provides a bright light at a time when the industry is challenged by change.

“The massive explosion of Silicon Valley was driven by companies run by engineers and visionaries who were passionate about what they were building,” said Devlin. “David Ellison is first and foremost a filmmaker. I knew him well in the beginning of his career. His motivation to build his company wasn’t monetarily opportunistic. He built his company so he could make the movies and television shows that inspired him. So, he could tell stories. The entertainment industry needs executives who, at their core, love movies and are passionate about the art form and are not just doing the job for a stock cash-out. David is as brilliant as they come as an executive but he’s no bean counter. He’s a creative first. He’s a fan, he’s an artist, and he’s a builder. In a time where the entertainment business seems to have lost its way, having someone like David take over a historic company like Paramount is the hope we need.”

RELATED: Paramount Global Co-CEOs Tell Staff “It’s Business As Usual” Until Skydance Deal Closes

Devlin isn’t alone in his opinion; earlier Monday, future Paramount president Jeff Shell gushed about Ellison, exclaiming on the Skydance-Paramount investor call, “It’s been a long time since a creative executive ran one of the big Hollywood companies, and I think it’s really important when creative is the core working with the artists of our business, to have someone like David running the business. If you want into a lab and designed the perfect executive for the next generation of Hollywood companies, it would literally spit out David Ellison because he can not only go to a table read, but he can go into the next room and code too.”

RELATED: Shari Redstone Tells Staff That Skydance Has “Resources To Build On Paramount Global’s Competitive Advantages”

Also weighing in this morning is Michael O’Leary, head of the National Association of Theatre Owners, who had the following to say about the Paramount-Skydance merger from the exhibitors’ perspective:

On behalf of theatre owners across the United States and around the world, NATO will look closely at the details of the proposed merger of Paramount Global and Skydance Media. Our guiding principle in this analysis will be whether this transaction will result in more movies being made for the global theatre-going audience or less. We are encouraged by the commitment that David Ellison and the Skydance Media team have shown to theatrical exhibition in the past.

A transaction that reaffirms Paramount’s historical commitment to theatrical exhibition will benefit consumers by ensuring a wide array of films, across all genres and budgets, that are synonymous with Paramount’s proud legacy. Movies like The GodfatherTop Gun: MaverickMission: ImpossibleTerms of EndearmentBeverly Hills CopFerris Bueller’s Day OffForrest GumpRaiders of the Lost Ark, among others, all of which are best experienced in a theatre full of movie fans.

Conversely, a merger that results in fewer movies being produced will not only hurt consumers and result in less revenue, but negatively impact people who work in all sectors of this great industry – creative, distribution and exhibition.

A Paramount that recognizes the unique place of theatres in communities across this nation and around the world will be a catalyst for more movie options being available for movie fans today and for generations of new fans in the years ahead.

We look forward to hearing more about this proposal and working with all interested parties in achieving the critical goal of more movies on the big screen.

At the time of this post, Paramount Global stock stood at $11.46, -3%, following this morning’s investor call.

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