Emma Watts to step down as Chairman of Motion Picture Group – The Hollywood Reporter
Emma Watts is at Paramount.
The longtime studio veteran was brought to Hollywood by Jim Gianopulos in the summer of 2020 as chairman of the film group, having previously worked with him at 20th Century Fox. Watts ‘exit now follows Gianopulos’ ousting as CEO and chairman of Paramount Pictures in early September.
Nickelodeon chief Brian Robbins has been approached by ViacomCBS to run the century-old studio, with the belief that the studio will pull out of its main theatrical offerings and refocus to offer more features to the Paramount + streaming service. Sources note that prior to the reshuffle, many of the studio’s base believed that Watts, who has a long history of big-budget feature films and dealing with top talent, would succeed Gianopulos in the post.
In his role, Watts oversaw film operations at Paramount and Paramount Players, the latter being the studio label founded by Robbins that he later left to lead the company’s huge children’s network. Under Watts and Gianopulos, several key executives were hired, including Jeremy Kramer, who now runs Paramount Players, and Daria Cercek and Michael Ireland, who were named production co-chairs earlier this year.
Prior to Paramount, Watts was president of production at 20th Century Fox for a long time. She continued with the company, later renamed 20th Century Studios, after its acquisition by Disney, one of the few Fox executives to survive the Disney / Fox uproar. Watts’ impressive resume includes the X-Men film series, including the hugely popular dead Pool, and the Avatar movies. His short stint at Paramount was tasked with helping Gianopulos run the studio’s legacy franchises, like that of Tom Cruise. Impossible mission movies and restart the Transformers series.
Paramount executives Daria Cercek and Mike Ireland, who were among his proteges, will become the studio’s new co-directors following its release. Cercek and Ireland have been co-chairs of cinema since January 2021.
In a note to staff regarding the changes, Robbins praised Watts for being “incredibly talented” but did not disclose the circumstances surrounding his departure. He said Paramount had “benefited a lot from his time here.”