BREAKING: Paramount Pictures today tapped former Twentieth Century Fox film executive Emma Watts to be President, Paramount Motion Picture Group, reporting to Paramount Pictures Chairman and CEO Jim Gianopulos. Watts will begin her new position effective July 20th.
She rejoins Gianopulos, who was her boss for many years at Fox. Wyck Godfrey, who has been serving as president of Paramount’s Motion Picture Group since January 2018, will be stepping down and returning to his first love of producing movies and television shows.
The move makes a lot of sense, and has been in the air since Watts exited Fox shortly after it was absorbed by Disney. She stayed with the studio, working on a Fox slate of adult-themed films to go along with the Disney silos, but it wasn’t a good fit. She is a strong executive who will fare better at Paramount with Gianopulos. Godfrey, producer of the Twilight Saga series, The Fault In Our Stars and other hits in partnership with Temple Hill principle Marty Bowen, is a strong fit to return to that life. I wouldn’t be surprised if a reunion with Bowen is in the offing. The studio has numerous franchises, but has been shuffling its slate of late. The studio stepped in to distribute the Aaron Sorkin-directed The Chicago 7, but recently stepped out of it with a deal just closed at Netflix. Paramount was also aboard for the Martin Scorsese-directed Killers of the Flower Moon with Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro, but Apple came in to become lead creative partner and financier of the $180M+ film, with Paramount releasing domestically.
In Watts’ new role, she will oversee the studio’s film operations from development to release, including Paramount Pictures and Paramount Players production labels, as well as managing the creative/development group and supervising casting, physical production, post production and music. Elizabeth Raposo will continue to serve in her current role as president of production, reporting to Watts.
Said Gianopulos, “Emma is one of the most exceptional executives in the film industry. I worked with her for almost two decades during her career at Fox and have watched her become the stellar leader and creative talent she is today. As Paramount continues its evolution and growth, I am thrilled that she will deftly guide the film studio with her impeccable taste, talent relationships and innovative vision.”
“At such a rapidly evolving time in our business, Paramount’s rich history and commitment to unique and diverse storytelling make it essential in this new era of filmmaking,” said Watts. “I look forward to working alongside Jim and the rest of the talented Paramount team to continue creating an environment that not only provides stability and confidence within the industry, but also empowers the creative community to do their very best work.”
A seasoned production and studio executive with over 20 years in the entertainment industry, Watts is best known for her development, production and distribution contributions to Twentieth Century Fox (now Twentieth Century Studios) including box office hits Night at the Museum, The Greatest Showman, Bohemian Rhapsody, The Martian, Deadpool, Logan, Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story and James Cameron’s Avatar.
Watts joined 20th Century Fox in 1998 as a creative executive. In 2007, she was promoted to president of production, and later to vice chairman in 2017. At Twentieth Century Fox, Watts oversaw production for 13 years, and contributed to the culmination of Fox becoming a consistently successful studio and part of one of the largest media companies in the world.
In 2018, following the Disney-Fox merger, Watts transitioned to chief executive at the newly rebranded Twentieth Century Studios, and oversaw the production and release of the Academy Awardâ-nominated film Ford v Ferrari and production of the upcoming Free Guy, directed by Shawn Levy and starring Ryan Reynolds, and director Ridley Scott’s The Last Duel.
Of Godfrey, Gianopulos said: “He has been an exceptional executive and a dear friend, who has helped lead us through this renaissance of the studio, and I look forward to the opportunity to work with him again in the future, and wish him continued success in his ongoing creative endeavors.”
“It’s been one of the great joys of my life to guide Paramount Pictures over the last few years,” added Godfrey, “and while I am sad to leave and will miss the day to day with the people I’ve grown to love, I can’t wait to see the future of the studio under Jim G and Emma, both of whom are rock stars in their respective jobs. And, rest assured, I have no doubt I’ll be pestering them for years to come to make my movies as a producer.”
During his tenure at Paramount, Godfrey has been responsible for overseeing a number of critical and box office successes, including Mission: Impossible—Fallout, Bumblebee, Rocketman, Sonic the Hedgehog, and The Lovebirds, among others. Highly-anticipated upcoming films for which Godfrey oversaw development and production include A Quiet Place Part II, Top Gun: Maverick, Coming 2 America, Snake Eyes, Monster Problems, and Infinite, among others. Prior to joining Paramount, he enjoyed tremendous success as a producer under his production company, Temple Hill Entertainment, whose films included the Twilight series, The Fault in Our Stars and First Man.
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