Paramount+ launches in the UK with celebrities in a lavish party

Whatever you do, don’t ask Sylvester Stallone — Mr. Stallone to reporters everywhere — to read a teleprompter.

Stallone stole the show at the launch of Paramount + UK on Monday, where the star of mafia drama ‘Tulsa King’, faced with a teleprompter like his fellow actors in attendance, went dramatically off the charts and chose to ‘speak from the heart’ for 10 minutes, delightfully tossing a key into an otherwise neatly organized display case.

“I’m not going to read this. I’m not,” Stallone chimed in to cheers from the audience of about 200 people. “I will read with the heart!

In a rambling speech, Stallone spoke about his love of franchises – “When I started a franchise, they said, ‘Oh, very careerist. Are you going to make the same film three, four times? It’s like ‘Yeah’” – up to riding horses, his own early career and eventually “putting together this new gang of misfits”.

“I’d like to say I did it all on my own,” Stallone joked, before thanking Paramount boss Bob Bakish; Chris McCarthy, president of Paramount Media Networks; as well as Tom Ryan, president and CEO of streaming.

Stallone was the final act of an hour-long presentation that wowed audiences at Outernet, a new media space on Charing Cross Road in central London, whose massive screens for the walls have been put to good use by Paramount . The studio hosted media and select producers and partners at a lavish party for the service, which will officially launch in the UK on Wednesday June 22 with 8,000 hours of content featuring movies, TV shows, new originals and library rates.

Hosted by Graham Norton, who presents the “Queen of the Universe” drag singing contest for Paramount Plus, a cavalcade of celebrities took to the stage, introducing themselves and singing the praises of their shows and the platform. After a full day of press beginning at 9 a.m., most were, perhaps rightly, reading a teleprompter, but that didn’t stop outliers like Stallone, who relished a bit of improvisation.

A total of 21 actors took the stage, including Matthew Goode, who presented the making-of of “The Godfather” series “The Offer”; the cast of “Teen Wolf: The Movie,” including Tyler Hoechlin and Tyler Posey; “yellow vest” actors Melanie Lynskey and Tawny Cypress; “The First Lady” trio Gillian Anderson, Viola Davis and Michelle Pfeiffer (although, oddly, only Anderson was named to speak); “Halo” stars Pablo Schreiber and Natasha McElhone; Miranda Cosgrove of “iCarly”; Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, the real “1883” couple; The cast of ‘The Man Who Fell to Earth’ Chiwetel Ejiofor, Bill Nighy and Naomie Harris; “George & Tammy’s” Jessica Chastain and Michael Shannon; “Star Trek” actors Sonequa Martin-Green and Kate Malgrew; David Oyelowo, star of “Bass Reeves”; and “Yellowstone” frontman Kevin Costner, who drew cheers from the crowd.

“Cinematic storytelling is what Paramount does,” Costner said. “Now Paramount is taking that incredible cinematic heritage and bringing the same approach to TV – pushing TV and streaming where they’ve never gone before with ‘Yellowstone’ in mind.”

McGraw and Hill, the stars of the “Yellowstone” prequel “1883,” also received a warm response in the room.

“What you see are not special effects – the horses, the river crossings, the fighting,” McGraw said. “It’s all real, designed to take you to the heart of the American West. And that’s the challenge that got me excited, because I knew that if we could pull it off, we’d be creating something totally new.

Hill added, “Filming this series is unlike anything Tim and I have ever done. And every second was worth it, because we’re creating something that audiences have deeply connected with.

Elsewhere, ‘Halo’ star Pablo Schreiber said he was part of a franchise that “touched generations”. Indeed, “Halo” has been considered the top driver of acquisitions, consumption and engagement for Paramount+’s international markets since the streaming service launched in March 2021.

While Paramount boss Bakish was not at the event, Ryan was on hand to open the showcase, saying the new service – which brings together Stallone, SpongeBob SquarePants, “Star Trek” and “South Park” in one place – is “what streaming service is supposed to be.”

Meanwhile, Maria Kyriacou, President of Australia, Canada, Israel and the UK for Paramount, pointed to the plethora of British content on the platform, such as “Sexy Beast” and “A Gentleman in Moscow “: “Launching Paramount+ in the UK isn’t just about bringing the best of the world to Britain, it’s about bringing even more of Britain’s best to the world.

The service has ordered 20 shows ahead of launch, and the former ITV Studios executive has promised “more to come”. The service revealed on Monday that it will produce 150 international originals by 2025. In the UK, Paramount+ will cost £6.99 ($8.50) per month. (It will be available free to Sky Cinema subscribers.)

Paramount+ launched in South Korea on June 16 and will expand to Italy in September, followed by Germany, Switzerland, Austria and France in December. The platform is expected to launch in 45 markets by the end of the year.

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