With its origins dating back to the founding of the Famous Players Film Company in 1912, Paramount Pictures was formed in 1916 when the company merged with two others. Paramount was then purchased by the Viacom Network in 1994 and it currently remains under that banner. In November 2018, Paramount became the first major studio to sign a multi-picture film deal with streaming giant Netflix. Paramount is known for big budget franchises such as Indiana Jones, Transformers, and Mission :Impossible.
Paramount has released several LGBTQ-themed or LGBTQ-inclusive films starting in the mid-nineties, which included Home for the Holidays (1995), Clueless (1995), The Brady Bunch Movie (1995), Brain Candy (1996), Kiss Me Guido (1997), Election (1999), The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999), The Next Best Thing (2000), and The Hours (2002).
One of the most significant LGBTQ films made by Paramount is the 1997 comedy In and Out which received substantial press for a kiss between Kevin Kline and Tom Selleck. The film was a hit at the box office, and joins The Talented Mr. Ripley among the top 10 highest grossing LGBTQ films. In 2016, Paramount released Star Trek: Beyond, the third film in the new Star Trek franchise, which showed that the character Hikaru Sulu had a husband and daughter. The inclusion of a gay man of color in such a large franchise was a huge step in the right direction for representation.
Vito Russo Test: Fail
Widest theatrical release: 2,032 theaters
This Johnny Knoxville-led comedy about a defunct theme park dealt in anti-gay jokes that felt decades old, and there is an ongoing insinuation that the enemy of the protagonist is gay as a derogatory term. Overall, the film underperformed at the box office and tanked with a 13 percent critical rating and 26 percent audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, showing that audiences are no longer willing to support projects that rely on these outdated jokes.
Vito Russo Test: Pass
Widest theatrical release: 2,112 theaters
This science-fiction thriller follows the protagonist, Lena, and a group of scientists into an unknown alien climate known as “The Shimmer” that no one has ever returned from. One of the scientists in the core group is Anya Thorensen, who hits on Lena soon after she meets her. Anya’s queerness is portrayed as a very natural part of her character, almost so casually that it could have been missed. Nearly every character in the film dies in the end, including Anya, though her death was more violent than many of the other women in the scientist’s group. Still, her inclusion is notable for the genre and should inspire further LGBTQ characters to be included in science fiction and fantasy films.
Vito Russo Test: Fail
Widest theatrical release: 3,426 theaters
This comedy follows couple Pete and Ellie through their journey of fostering children. They regularly attend a support group with prospective foster parents which includes minor gay couple Kit and Michael, who are looking to foster and adopt as well. Showing two gay men as a couple wanting to adopt is a reflective of the real world and still an important issue to highlight, especially considering that many states still discriminate against queer couples who wish to adopt.
Rocketman, the biopic of gay icon Elton John, will be released at the end of May. The film will cover the early years in the musician’s career and his partnership with writer Bernie Taupin. The film is produced by both John and his husband David Furnish, which is a promising sign for fans on how inclusive the film will be of John’s sexuality and relationships. Paramount also has several adaptations scheduled of popular properties including Dungeons and Dragons, a film based on the immensely popular roleplaying game. There is a large LGBTQ community who plays D&D, and it would be a missed opportunity to not have them reflected in the upcoming movie. While Paramount previously announced a film adaptation of the queer-inclusive Nickelodeon series The Loud House, it was this year announced that the film will now be made for Netflix instead. There is no word on Netflix’s plans for theatrical distribution.