‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ and ‘World War Z’ help drive Viacom profits up in third quarter

By Daniel S Levine,

Media conglomerate Viacom released its earnings report for the fiscal third quarter, citing strong box office numbers for and World War Z, plus ratings boosts for its cable networks, as the reasons for strong growth. However, Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman said that the profits could have been even bigger for all studios if they didn’t release their tentpoles in bunches.

Viacom, which owns Paramount Pictures, MTV, Comedy Central and other cable networks, reported a 20 percent profit growth from the last year, notes the LA Times. During the quarter, which ended on June 30, Viacom’s net profits for the year hit $643 million or $1.31 a share. That’s up from $534 million ($1.01 a share) last year.

In the quarter itself, Viacom earned $3.69 billion, up from $3.24 billion made in last year’s third quarter, reports Variety. Filmed entertainment revenue was up 15 percent to $1.16 billion, while revenue from the cable networks hit $2.57 billion, a 13 percent jump.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Dauman told analysts that the profits from Star Trek 2 and World War Z could have been even bigger if it didn’t have to compete with other studio tentpoles. He suggested that this isn’t just something for his company to keep an eye on, but the industry as a whole.

“Paramount Pictures launched two strong tentpoles in Star Trek Into Darkness and World War Z, which are on their way to nearly a billion dollars combined at the worldwide box office,” Dauman said. “The next quarter will show significant profitability for Paramount, including from these two films, but it will likely be moderately less than we anticipated due to the crowded tentpole schedule this summer and the delay of certain film licensing deals into next fiscal year.”

He added that the packed schedule for summer 2013 “limited a lot of pictures, ours included.”

Viacom really wanted to focus on a creative rebirth at the company, though. “The winds of change are all around us," but "the value of content…has never, never been greater,” chairman Sumner Redstone noted. Dauman also praised the work at the cable networks, including MTV, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central.

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