Established in the earliest days of the American film industry, Paramount Pictures traces its lineage all the way back to 1912 and the founding of the Famous Players Film Company, which was one of three companies that would merge in 1916 and eventually become Paramount. Big-budget, mass appeal franchises is how one would describe many of the studio’s most recognizable releases, including Star Trek, Transformers, and Mission Impossible. But if one were to look at Paramount Pictures’ most recent crop of films, it may appear that the studio is not particularly fond of taking risks. That has not always been the case.
Starting in the mid-nineties, Paramount released a string of films that were either LGBT-themed or LGBT-inclusive, including Home for the Holidays (1995), Clueless (1995), The Brady Bunch Movie (1995), Brain Candy (1996), Kiss Me Guido (1997), Election (1999), The Talented Mister Ripley (1999), and The Next Best Thing (2000).
In 1997, the studio partnered with Scott Rudin Productions to release the mass-appeal, gay-themed comedy In and Out, which garnered a great deal of publicity for a kiss between lead Kevin Kline and love interest Tom Selleck, and became a box office hit. In fact, In and Out, along with fellow Paramount releases Mister Ripley and The Hours (2002), are three of the top 10 highest grossing gay or lesbian-themed films in the United States.
HOT TUB TIME MACHINE 2
Widest theatrical release: 2901 theaters
Hot Tub Time Machine 2 included a painfully long gag steeped in gay panic. The men visit the future and find themselves on the set of hit game show Choozy Doozy, where contestant Nick must complete a task voted on by the audience. Lou, without realizing that whoever suggests the task must also participate, yells out that Nick should be forced to have virtual reality sex with a man. The two spend a few minutes expressing disgust and discomfort at the idea before the host electro-shocks them into complying. At the last second, Lou uses a lifeline to switch places with Adam Jr., and the scene proceeds off-camera with Adam screaming in pain and his fiancé watching from home. When the men balk, the film tries to make it seem as if it is in on the joke with the host asking, “What’s the big deal with the two of you guys sleeping together? You’re acting like it’s 2010.” But the fact that the scene is clearly a moment meant to give the audience some cheap homophobic chuckles rather than anything related to the story or character development makes it clear that the film’s creators still find the idea of two men together to be hilarious and strange.