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May 21, 2006

Product Naming: Paramount Gets Arty

Paramount Classics art house division, , is changing its name to .

It seems that the Paramount Classics name signified “old” and not “arty” to movie buffs. That's just good brand name research and common sense.

The Paramount Vantage name is intended to distance Paramount Classics from its unsuccessful independent film past.

Fox SearchlightBut the name Paramount Classics will not be dropped — it will just handle foreign films and documentaries. This signals a new era for Paramount, whose art house films have struggled to keep up with those distributed by competitors like from and from .

This seems like a tortured name architecture to me. Or a typical “split the baby” corporate name decision.

It seems that small, arty films have breathed new life and new finance structures into the studio system in Hollywood: films that were once the realm of the beret and black turtleneck set are now going mainstream — sort of like how small, independent label breweries suddenly went big time.

Films like Crash, Brokeback Mountain and Good Night and Good Luck are bringing in the critical acclaim and the audiences to make small, art house films really profitable.

Miramax now owns art house legend , which is exemplary of the trend of bigger studios who simply buy well known independent studios and add them to their stables. Paramount Classics, however, was built from scratch.

Sony ClassicsInterestingly, has . For me the imagery of Sony, a high tech company, and Classics are an unnatural association.

Should Sony Pictures Classics also consider a new brand name? Not really, unnatural association not withstanding. This Sony unit won the 2005 Palme d'Or at Cannes for L’Enfant (The Child).

Here are some other perspectives on the name change and sources for news and opinions on independent film:

  • Paramount's press release announcing the name change.
  • For news and opinions on independent film, check out the Chlotrudis Society for Independent Film's Chlotrudis Mewsings blog.
  • IndieWIRE is an important source for news on independent movies.
  • DISContent thinks Paramount's new name is problematic because of another association with the word “Vantage.”
  • Fearful Symmetries hopes this means there will be more interesting options coming to the cineplexes.

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Posted by William Lozito at May 21, 2006 4:11 PM
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Not sure what you mean by "Disney now owns art house legend Miramax, which is exemplary of the trend of bigger studios who simply buy well known independent studios and add them to their stables."

The Walt Disney Company bought Miramax Films in 1993... after they had released Sarafina!, Bob Roberts, and Madonna's 'Truth or Dare,' but before Clerks, Pulp Fiction, The Crow, Muriel's Wedding, Kids, Mighty Aphrodite, etc... Miramax became a legend after it was under the roof of the House of Mouse.

I believe you're right about the date Disney bought Miramax, but they had left major control of the company in the hands of its founders, the Weinstein brothers. It was only about a year ago that the Weinsteins left Miramax to start their own company, and I'm not sure whether it was their idea or the parent company's.


I was referring to Disney buying out the Weinstein brothers, Harvey and Bob, both from Flushing, Queens, New York and the two (Disney and the Weinsteins) parting ways.

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