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Paramount Pictures Corporation is an American film production and distribution company, located at 5555 Melrose Avenue in Hollywood. Founded in 1912 and currently owned by media conglomerate Viacom, it is America's oldest existing film studio; it is also the last major film studio still headquartered in the Hollywood district of Los Angeles. Paramount is consistently ranked as one of the top-grossing movie studios. Paramount Pictures can trace its beginning to the creation in May 1912 of the Famous Players Film Company.

 

Founder Hungarian-born Adolph Zukor, who had been an early investor in nickelodeons, saw that movies appealed mainly to working-class immigrants. With partners Daniel Frohman and Charles Frohman he planned to offer feature-length films that would appeal to the middle class by featuring the leading theatrical players of the time (leading to the slogan "Famous Players in Famous Plays"). By mid-1913, Famous Players had completed five films, and Zukor was on his way to success. That same year, another aspiring producer, Jesse L. Lasky, opened his Lasky Feature show Company with money borrowed from his brother-in-law, Samuel Goldfish, later known as Samuel Goldwyn. The Lasky company hired as their first employee a stage director with virtually no film experience, Cecil B. DeMille, who would find a suitable location site in Hollywood, near Los Angeles, for his first film, The Squaw Man. The Paramount logo designed by founder W. W. Hodkinson in 1914. Beginning in 1912, both Lasky and Famous Players released their films through a start-up company, Paramount Pictures Corporation, organized early that year by a Utah theatre owner, W. W. Hodkinson, who had bought and merged several smaller firms.

 

Hodkinson and actor, director, producer Hobart Bosworth had started production of a series of Jack London movies. Paramount was the first successful nation-wide distributor; until this time, films were sold on a state-wide or regional basis. Not only was this inefficient but it had proved costly to film producers. Soon the ambitious Zukor, unused to taking a secondary role, began courting Hodkinson and Lasky. In 1916, Zukor maneuvered a three-way merger of his Famous Players, the Lasky Company, and Paramount. The new company, Famous Players-Lasky Corporation, grew quickly, with Lasky and his partners Goldfish and DeMille running the production side, Hiram Abrams in charge of distribution, and Zukor making great plans. With only the exhibitor-owned First National as a rival, Famous Players-Lasky and its "Paramount Pictures" soon dominated the business.