Certificate no. 64649 for 41 shares of common stock. Ornate
maroon border with imprint of company seal and vignette of
Reynolds & Co.
wide x 21cm high
Framed Certificate Price : £62.50
Certificate Only Price : £22.50
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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
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
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
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
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
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,
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.