History of Paramount Pictures

Paramount Pictures

Despite Laemmle’s and Fox’s success, it became clear that the newly budding film industry wasn’t going to be taken as seriously as other business investments. In fact, despite Hollywood producing and distributing films, all around the country, even the most audacious banks didn’t want to side with film producers. So a man by the name of W. W. Hodkinson decided to set up a system where both distributors and producers would get a “fair” amount of revenue, from the sales of their films. Thus Paramount Pictures was born.

As the company grew into the role of distribution, many producers became reluctant to join such an overpriced relationship. Paramount Pictures demanded at least 35% of the box office, even as 25% of the film’s budget came towards distribution. In short, the producers got the short end of the stick.

Time for a Takeover

Amongst the outraged producers were Adolph Zukor and Jesse Lasky. They felt so cheated that they decided to secretly buy up stocks from Paramount, in order to gain control over what would have been a very expensive investment. Soon, Zukor had enough power to successfully remove Hodkinson, two years after founding the company.

Now Zukor had the reins, appointed a new candidate as president of the distribution company, and became known as the “United States Steel Corp. of the Motion Pictures Industry”. After that, both Zukor and Lasky could finally concentrate on their new production company Famous Players-Lasky. However, their peace was short-lived. One of their partners, a man called Samuel Goldfish, had ferocious energy that rivaled Zukor’s megalomania. The tension between the two grew so high, that Zukor eventually gave an ultimatum for Lasky, “either Goldfish must leave the company or Zukor would”.

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