How A Quiet Place Could Change Paramount's Fortunes
A Quiet Place has a lot in common with Paranormal Activity: The former may have more star power than the latter, and a slightly bigger budget, but both established themselves quickly as audience favorites and creative additions to a crowded yet popular genre. Horror is a reliably profitable field, more so in the past few years thanks to movies like IT, The Conjuring franchise and Get Out. Crucially, none of these films cost over $35m to make. Budgets were tight and profit margins expansive. They bridged the gaps between commercial and critical successes, legitimizing horror for a new age.
Most of these were also original properties. Paranormal Activity’s success gave Paramount a whole new franchise to build upon, and chances are the same could be done to A Quiet Place. Sequel talk has already begun, but the importance of investing in new ideas shouldn’t bypass Paramount. As disappointing as box office results for Annihilation and mother! were, it was still a good creative move for them to put so much trust in original properties that took a more esoteric approach to genre film-making. With better planning and distribution, the films could have done better financially. None of them were especially expensive to make and they all did great business with the critics.
If Paramount can find a way to replicate what they did with A Quiet Place – good marketing, building on word-of-mouth and critical acclaim – with projects like Annihilation, it would greatly benefit the studio in the long-run. Their 2016 sci-fi drama Arrival managed a similar route to success. Both Arrival and A Quiet Place succeeded because Paramount trusted their audiences with potentially tricky material. One of the alleged reasons Annihilation was treated so shoddily was because its producers feared it would be too intellectual for mainstream audiences. That's a risk they should be willing to take.
What's Next For Paramount?
The rest of Paramount's slate for 2018 hints at ways they can move forward, building on the foundations of A Quiet Place: Aside from the two major franchise efforts - Mission: Impossible - Fallout and Transformers spin-off Bumblebee - there is Overlord, the rumored fourth installment in the Cloverfield world, and Action Point, a Jackass-produced slapstick comedy. Their slate is small - nowhere near as packed as Disney or Warner Bros. - but their strategy makes sense: Stick to the big names but keep some money aside for low to mid budget properties that can fill previously ignored niches.
In the long-run, it will take a while for Paramount to look at what A Quiet Place is doing and re-adjust their business plans accordingly. They're still looking for those franchise hits - a Sonic the Hedgehog animated movie is in the works, the Top Gun sequel has a Summer 2019 release, and they're giving the Terminator franchise another go. Paramount’s strengths lie in their smaller efforts and their willingness to invest in those stranger films that don’t fit in elsewhere. It makes greater sense for them to move forward with that strategy than in trying to copy Disney as a blockbuster king. The studio hired Jim Gianopulous to be their new CEO last year and Chairman, so he inherited most of these films before landing the job. However, A Quiet Place was the first project greenlit under his tenure, which hints at a CEO who knows exactly what Paramount needs. Their fortunes don’t look great right now, but with A Quiet Place and the potential future it offers, it could be much brighter.