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1954 Paramount Pictures Corporation

 

 

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Stock Code PPC01

 
Company Paramount Pictures Corporation, a major American motion picture production and distribution company.
Description Certificate no. 64649  for 41 shares of common stock. Ornate maroon  border with imprint of company seal and vignette of company logo.
Issued To Reynolds & Co.
Issue Date 1st September 1954
Company Officers
 Barney Balaban President Printed Signature 
 Austin C Keough Treasurer  Printed Signature 
Size 31cm wide x 21cm high

Framed Certificate Price : 62.50

Certificate Only Price : 22.50

 

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Paramount Pictures Corporation is a major American motion picture production and distribution company, based in Hollywood, California. Founded in 1912, it is the oldest running movie studio in Hollywood, beating Universal Studios by a month. Paramount is owned by media conglomerate Viacom.

Paramount Pictures can trace its beginnings to the creation in May, 1912, of the Famous Players Film Company. Founder Hungarian-born Adolph Zukor, who had been an early investor in nickelodeons, saw that movies appealed mainly to working-class immigrants. With partners Daniel Frohman and Charles Frohman he planned to offer feature-length films that would appeal to the middle class by featuring the leading theatrical players of the time. By mid-1913, Famous Players had completed five films, and Zukor was on his way to success.

That same year, another aspiring producer, Jesse L. Lasky, opened his Lasky Feature Play Company with money borrowed from his brother-in-law, Samuel Goldfish (later to be known as Samuel Goldwyn.) As their first employee, the Lasky company hired a stage director with no film experience, Cecil B. DeMille, who would find a suitable location site in Hollywood, near Los Angeles, for his first film, The Squaw Man.

Beginning in 1914, both Lasky and Famous Players released their films through a start-up company, Paramount Pictures. Organized early that year by a Utah theatre owner, W. W. Hodkinson, who had bought and merged several smaller firms, Paramount was the first successful nation-wide distributor. Until this time films were sold on a state-wide or regional basis; not only was this inefficient, but it had proved costly to film producers.

Soon the ambitious Zukor, unused to taking a secondary role, began courting Hodkinson and Lasky. In 1916, Zukor maneuvered a three-way merger of his Famous Players, the Lasky Company, and Paramount. The new company, Famous Players-Lasky, grew quickly, with Lasky and his partners Goldfish and DeMille running the production side, Hiram Abrams in charge of distribution, and Zukor making great plans. With only the exhibitor-owned First National as a rival, Famous Players-Lasky and its "Paramount Pictures" soon dominated the business.

Zukor believed in stars - after all, he had begun by offering "Famous Players in Famous Plays," as his first slogan put it. He signed and developed many of the leading early stars, among them Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Gloria Swanson, Rudolph Valentino, and Wallace Reid. With so many important players, Paramount was able to introduce "block booking," which meant that an exhibitor who wanted a particular star's films had to buy a year's worth of other Paramount productions. It was this system that gave Paramount a leading position in the 1920s and 1930s, but which led the government to pursue it on anti-trust grounds for more than twenty years.

The driving force behind Paramount's rise was Zukor. All through the teens and twenties, he built a mighty theatrical chain of nearly 2,000 screens, ran two production studios, and became an early investor in radio, taking a 50% interest in the new Columbia Broadcasting System in 1928. By acquiring the successful Balaban & Katz chain in 1926, he gained the services of both Barney Balaban, who became Paramount's president, and Sam Katz, who ran the Paramount-Publix theatre chain. Zukor also hired independent producer B. P. Schulberg, an unerring eye for new talent, to run the West Coast studio. In 1927, Famous Players-Lasky took on the name Paramount-Famous Lasky Corporation. Three years later, because of the importance of the Publix theater chain, it was later known as Paramount-Publix Corporation.

Also in 1927, Paramount began releasing Inkwell Imps animated cartoons produced by Max & Dave Fleischer's Fleischer Studios in New York City. The Fleischers, veterans in the animation industry, would prove to be among the few animation producers capable of challenging the prominence of Walt Disney.

Eventually Zukor shed most of his early partners; the Frohman brothers, Hodkinson and Goldfish/Goldwyn were out by 1917 while Lasky hung on until 1932, when, blamed for the near-collapse of Paramount in the depression years, he too was tossed out. Zukor's over-expansion and use of overvalued Paramount stock for purchases led the company into receivership in 1933. A bank-mandated reorganization team, led by John Hertz and Otto Kahn kept the company intact, and miraculously, kept Zukor on. In 1935, Paramount Publix went bankrupt. Immediately after this bankrupctcy occurred, Zukor was bumped up to an honorary "chairman emeritus" role in 1935, while Barney Balaban became chairman. Upon becoming the "honorary chairman," Zukor reorganized the company as Paramount Pictures, Inc. and was able to successfully bring the studio out of bankruptcy.

As always, Paramount films continued to emphasize stars; in the 1920s there were Swanson, Valentino, and Clara Bow. By the 1930s, talkies brought in a range of powerful new draws: Marlene Dietrich, Mae West, Gary Cooper, Claudette Colbert, the Marx Brothers, Dorothy Lamour, Carole Lombard, Bing Crosby, the band leader Shep Fields and the famous Argentine tango singer Carlos Gardel among them. In this period Paramount can truly be described as a movie factory, turning out sixty and seventy pictures a year. Such were the benefits of having a huge theater chain to fill, and of block booking to persuade other chains to go along. In 1933, Mae West would also add to greatly to Paramount's success with her movies She Done Him Wrong and I'm No Angel. However, the sex appeal West gave in these movies would also lead to the enforcement of the Hays Code, as the newly formed organization the Catholic Legion of Decency threatened a boycott if it wasn't enforced.

Paramount cartoons produced by Fleischer Studios continued to be successful, with characters such as Betty Boop and Popeye the Sailor becoming widely successful. One Fleischer series, Screen Songs, featured live-action music stars under contract to Paramount hosting sing-alongs of popular songs. However, a huge blow to Fleischer Studios occurred in 1934, after the Hays Code was enforced and Betty Boop's popularity declined as she was forced to have a more tame personality and wear a longer skirt too. Fleischer Studios could however, rebound with Popeye, and in 1935, polls showed that Popeye was even more popular than Mickey Mouse. After an unsuccessful expansion into feature films, as well as the fact that Max and Dave Fleischer were no longer speaking to one another, Fleischer Studios was acquired by Paramount, who renamed the operation Famous Studios and continued cartoon production until 1967.

In 1940, Paramount agreed to a government-instituted consent decree: block booking and "pre-selling" (the practice of collecting up-front money for films not yet in production) would end. Immediately Paramount cut back on production, from sixty-plus pictures to a more modest twenty annually in the war years. Still, with more new stars (like Bob Hope, Alan Ladd, Veronica Lake, Paulette Goddard, and Betty Hutton), and with war-time attendance at astronomical numbers, Paramount and the other integrated studio-theatre combines made more money than ever. At this, the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department decided to reopen their case against the five integrated studios. Paramount also had a monopoly over Detroit movie theaters through subsidiary company United Detroit Theaters as well. This led to the Supreme Court decision of 1948 that broke up Adolph Zukor's amazing creation and effectively brought an end to the classic Hollywood studio system.

As movie attendance declined after World War II, Paramount and the others struggled to keep the audience. Hovering nearby were the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department, still pursuing restraint-of-trade allegations. This case finally came before the Supreme Court as U.S. vs. Paramount Pictures, et al., and in May 1948, the court agreed with the government, finding restraint of competition, and calling for the separation of production and exhibition. Paramount Pictures Inc. was split in two. Paramount Pictures Corporation was formed to be the production distribution company, with the 1,500-screen theater chain handed to the new United Paramount Theaters on December 31, 1949. The Balaban and Katz theatre division was spun off with UPT. The Balaban and Katz Trademark is now owned by the Balaban and Katz Historical Foundation. Cash-rich and controlling prime downtown real estate, UPT-head Leonard Goldenson began looking for investments; barred from film-making, he acquired the struggling ABC in February, 1953.

Paramount Pictures had been an early backer of television, launching experimental stations in 1939 in Los Angeles (later to become KTLA) and Chicago's WBKB. It was also an early investor in the pioneer DuMont Laboratories and through that, the DuMont Television Network, but because of anti-trust concerns after the 1948 ruling, proved to be a timid and obstructionist partner, refusing to aid DuMont as it sank in the mid-1950s.

With the loss of the theater chain, Paramount Pictures went into a decline, cutting studio-backed production, releasing its contract players, and making production deals with independents. By the mid-1950s, all the great names were gone; only C.B. DeMille, associated with Paramount since 1913, kept making pictures in the grand old style. Despite Paramount's losses, DeMille would, however, give the studio some relief and would create his most successful film at Paramount, a 1956 remake of his 1923 film The Ten Commandments. Like some other studios, Paramount saw little value in its film library (see below for more info on the early Paramount library). DeMille would also die in 1959 as well.

By the early 1960s Paramount's future was doubtful. The high-risk movie business was wobbly; the theater chain was long gone; investments in DuMont and in early pay-television came to nothing. Even the flagship Paramount building in Times Square was sold to raise cash, as was KTLA (sold to Gene Autry in 1964 for a then-phenomenal $12.5 million). Founding-father Adolph Zukor, born in 1873, was still chairman emeritus; he referred to chairman Barney Balaban (born 1888) as 'the boy'. Such aged leadership was incapable of keeping up with the changing times, and in 1966, a sinking Paramount was sold to the Charles Bluhdorn's industrial conglomerate Gulf and Western Industries. Bluhdorn immediately put his stamp on the studio, installing a virtually unknown producer, Robert Evans, as head of production. Despite some rough times, Evans held the job for eight years, restoring Paramount's reputation for commercial success with The Odd Couple, Love Story, Chinatown, Rosemary's Baby and The Godfather.

Gulf and Western Industries also bought the neighboring Desilu television studio (once the lot of RKO Pictures) from Lucille Ball in 1967. Using Desilu's established shows like Star Trek, Mission: Impossible and Mannix as a foot in the door at the networks, Paramount Television eventually became known as a specialist in half-hour situation comedies.

In 1970, Paramount teamed with Universal Studios to form Cinema International Corporation, a new company that would distribute films by the two studios outside the United States. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer would become a partner in the mid 1970s. Both Paramount and CIC entered the video market with Paramount Home Video (now Paramount Home Entertainment) and CIC Video, respectively.

Robert Evans quit as head of production in 1974; his successor Richard Sylbert, was too literary and tasteful for G+W's Bluhdorn. By 1976, a new, television-trained team was in place: Barry Diller, and his 'killer-Dillers,' associates Michael Eisner, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Dawn Steel and Don Simpson. The specialty now was simpler, 'high concept' pictures like Saturday Night Fever, and Grease. With his television background, Diller kept pitching an idea of his to the board: a fourth commercial network. But the board, and Bluhdorn, wouldn't bite. Neither would Bluhdorn's successor, Martin Davis. Diller took his fourth-network idea with him when he moved to Twentieth Century-Fox in 1984, where the new proprietor, Rupert Murdoch, was a more interested listener.

Paramount Pictures was unconnected to Paramount Records, until it purchased the rights to use Paramount Records' name (but not its catalogue) in the late 1960s. The Paramount name was used for soundtrack albums and some pop re-issues from the Dot Records catalogue. Paramount had acquired the pop-oriented Dot in 1958, but by 1970 Dot had become an all-country label. In 1974, Paramount sold all of its record holdings to ABC Records, which in turn was sold to MCA in 1978.

Paramount's successful run of pictures extended into the 1980s and 1990s, generating hits like Flashdance, the Friday the 13th slasher series; Raiders of the Lost Ark and its sequels; Beverly Hills Cop and a string of films starring comedian Eddie Murphy; Footloose; Fatal Attraction; and the Star Trek series. While the emphasis was decidedly on the commercial, there were occasional less commercial efforts like Atlantic City, Terms of Endearment, and Forrest Gump. During this period responsibility for running the studio passed from Eisner and Katzenberg to Don Simpson to Stanley Jaffe and Sherry Lansing. More so than most, Paramount's slate of films included many remakes and television spinoffs; while sometimes commercially successful, there have been few compelling films of the kind that once made Paramount the industry leader.

In 1981, Cinema International Corporation was reorganized as United International Pictures. This was necessary because MGM had merged with United Artists which had its own international distribution unit, but MGM was not allowed to leave the venture at the time (they finally did in 2001, switching international distribution to 20th Century Fox).

When Charles Bluhdorn died unexpectedly, his successor Martin Davis dumped all of G+W's industrial, mining, and sugar-growing subsidiaries and refocused the company, renaming it Paramount Communications in 1989. With the influx of cash from the sale of G+W's industrial properties in the mid-1980s, Paramount bought a string of television stations and KECO Entertainment's theme park operations, renaming them Paramount Parks.

In 1993, Sumner Redstone's entertainment conglomerate Viacom made a bid for Paramount; this quickly escalated into a bidding war with Barry Diller. But Viacom prevailed, ultimately paying $10 billion for the Paramount holdings.

Paramount is the last major film studio located in Hollywood proper. When Paramount moved to its present home in 1927, it was in the heart of the film community. Since then, former next-door neighbor RKO closed up shop in 1957; Warner Brothers (whose old Sunset Boulevard studio was sold to Paramount in 1949 as a home for KTLA) moved to Burbank in 1930; Columbia joined Warners in Burbank in 1973 then moved again to Culver City in 1989; and the Pickford-Fairbanks-Goldwyn-United Artists lot, after a lively history, has been turned into a post-production and music-scoring facility for Warners, known simply as "The Lot". For a time the semi-industrial neighborhood around Paramount was in decline, but has now come back. The recently refurbished studio has come to symbolize Hollywood for many visitors, and its studio tour is a popular attraction.

The most successful period for Paramount in recent times was the administration of Jonathan Dolgen, chairman and Sherry Lansing, president.

Under Dolgen and Lansing the studio had almost a ten year unbroken track record of success including 6 of Paramount's ten highest grossing films ever and the highest grossing film of all time, Titanic (which, along with Braveheart, was co-produced by 20th Century Fox). The studio won Best Picture Academy Awards for the films Titanic, Braveheart and Forrest Gump, while also releasing such films as Saving Private Ryan and the hugely successful series of Mission Impossible films.

In 1995, Viacom and Chris-Craft Industries' United Television launched United Paramount Network (UPN), fulfilling Diller's 1970s plan for a Paramount network. In 1999, Viacom bought out United Television's interests, and handed responsibility for the shaky UPN to its more-established CBS unit, which Viacom bought in 1999 - all the ironic since Paramount had once invested in CBS, and Viacom had once been the syndication arm of CBS as well.

During the Dolgen/Lansing administration Paramount tripled the size of its TV library through the acquisitions of Spelling TV, Republic and Worldvision; they doubled the profits of their music publishing division Famous Music, expanded the international theater group UCI to 13 foreign countries and took the Famous Players theater circuit in Canada from 25% to 53% market share.

Dolgen and Lansing also introduced the DVD, led the formation of the Digital Cinema Initiative standards group for the future of digital film and launched the first ever online movie distribution company, Movielink. Dolgen is credited with pioneering the use of off-balance sheet financing for movies while at Columbia Pictures and at Paramount his team (led by Tom McGrath) secured over $4 billion in financings this way.

Reflecting in part the troubles of the broadcasting business, Viacom announced early in 2005 that it would split itself in two. The split was completed in January 2006.

The CBS television and radio networks, the Infinity radio-station chain (now called CBS Radio), the Paramount Television production unit (now called CBS Paramount Television) and UPN (replaced by The CW Television Network co-owned with rival Time Warner's Warner Bros.) are part of CBS Corporation, as was Paramount Parks prior to its June 2006 sale by CBS to the Cedar Fair Entertainment Company.

Paramount Pictures is now lumped in with MTV, BET, and other highly profitable channels owned by the new Viacom.

With the announcement of the split of Viacom, Dolgen and Lansing were replaced by former television executives Brad Grey and Gail Berman. The decision was made to split Viacom into two companies, which in turn led to a dismantling of the Paramount Studio/Paramount TV infrastructure. The current Paramount is about one-quarter the size it was under Dolgen and Lansing and consists only of the movie studio. The famed Paramount Television studio was made part of CBS in the split. The remaining businesses were sold off or parcelled out to other operating groups. Paramount's home entertainment unit continues to distribute the Paramount TV library through CBS DVD.

On December 11, 2005, Paramount announced that it had purchased DreamWorks SKG (which was co-founded by former Paramount executive Jeffrey Katzenberg) in a deal worth $1.6 billion. The announcement was made by Brad Grey, chairman and CEO of Paramount Pictures, who noted that enhancing Paramount's pipeline of pictures is a "key strategic objective in restoring Paramount's stature as a leader in filmed entertainment." The agreement does not include DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc., the most profitable part of the company that went public last year.

Under the deal, Paramount is required to distribute the DreamWorks animated films for a small fee that covers Paramount's out of pocket costs, including the Shrek franchise (starting with the 2007 installment, Shrek the Third). The first film distributed under this deal is Over the Hedge.

The deal closed on February 6, 2006. This acquisition was seen at the time as a stopgap measure as Brad Grey had been unsuccessful in assembling sufficient films for production and distribution and the DreamWorks films would fill the gap.

 
Source: www.wikipedia.org

 

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