The Famous Players Film Company (founded in 1912) merged with the Lasky Company and Paramount to form Paramount Pictures in 1916. The Viacom Network acquired Paramount in 1994, re-merged with CBS to become ViacomCBS in 2019, and renamed itself Paramount Global in February 2022. In 2018, Paramount additionally became the first major studio to sign a multi-picture film deal with Netflix, although future Paramount films will stream on Paramount Global’s recently rebranded streamer Paramount+. The studio has released big budget franchises such as Indiana Jones, Transformers, and Mission: Impossible.
Paramount began releasing LGBTQ-themed or inclusive films in the mid-nineties and early aughts, with films like Home for the Holidays (1995); Clueless (1995); The Brady Bunch Movie (1995); Brain Candy (1996); Kiss Me Guido (1997); In and Out (1997), a box office hit that received substantial press for a kiss between Kevin Klein and Tom Selleck; The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999); Election (1999); The Next Best Thing (2000); and The Hours (2002). More recent inclusion was highlighted in Star Trek: Beyond (2016), which features Hikaru Sulu, a gay man of color with his husband and daughter; the Elton John biopic Rocketman (2019); and the comedy Like a Boss (2020) which featured Billy Porter in a supporting role.
In 2021, Paramount Pictures’ LGBTQ initiatives for employees included a company-wide conversation for National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day with the Los Angeles LGBT Center and the American Red Cross on efforts with the ADVANCE Study to change the discriminatory FDA policy which bars blood donations from all men who have had sex with men. The company announced plans for a new initiative called “Content for Change” which will examine racial diversity in programming, and was founded by Paramount Global company BET. The program has since been picked up at all labels across the company and will soon expand to include further communities. In 2020, Paramount Global joined over 250 other businesses that signed onto HRC’s and Freedom For All American’s Business Statement Opposing Anti-LGBTQ State Legislation.
While Paramount Pictures was not individually included in the 2022 Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index, the Paramount Global company received a 100. The company has volunteer opportunities with local LGBTQ centers, an active LGBTQ employee resource group, and the release of a public video highlighting LGBTQ employees as part of its the company’s “Proud to Be” series. . In 2021, no anti-LGBTQ political donations from Paramount Pictures were found. Parent company Paramount Global donated more than $25,000 to anti-LGBTQ politicians.
In January of this year, Paramount released the newest film in the Scream franchise, which features out actor Jasmin Savoy Brown as queer character Mindy. Paramount has since announced that there will be a sequel coming out in 2023, which will feature Mindy among the returning cast members. In September, Paramount released an adaptation of Angie Thomas’ On The Come Up, which follows Bri, a sixteen-year-old girl who dreams of being one of the world’s greatest rappers. The film includes out actor Miles Gutierrez Riley as Bri’s friend Sonny, a gay teen who strikes up a relationship with another rapper, Milez.
After several changes to creative teams and scheduled release dates, the next Star Trek film is set to hit theaters in December 2023. The film will bring back the crew from the previous films, which includes John Cho as Sulu. 2016’s Star Trek: Beyond briefly introduced his husband and family; we hope to see more of this relationship in the next sequel. Additionally, several Star Trek television series have introduced dynamic fan-favorite LGBTQ characters in recent years, and their film counterparts should follow suit by introducing new LGBTQ characters as well as potentially including some of those TV characters where the franchises may overlap.
The Tony Award-winning musical Spamalot is getting a feature film adaptation at Paramount. The original musical cast included gay characters Lancelot and Herbert. Though the humor surrounding those characters should be updated for today’s audiences, their inclusion is necessary. In 2023, Paramount will release Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves based on the roleplaying game “Dungeons and Dragons.” Given the popularity of the game within the LGBTQ community, we hope to see on screen representation in the film, especially as the film is set to star out actor Justice Smith.