Prospective blockbusters are not usually built this way.
Rob Moore, the executive who oversees Paramount Pictures' marketing and distribution operations, had an open date in his movie schedule. He had just watched a little step-dancing film called "Stomp the Yard" clean up over last year's Martin Luther King's Birthday weekend, and he figured his company could do the same if it had some cheap popcorn fare ready for the holiday in 2008.
J. J. Abrams, meanwhile, had a theory. Best known as one of the creators of the television series "Lost," Mr. Abrams figured he could make the modern-day equivalent of "Godzilla" for $25 million or less, if he hired a bunch of no-name actors, shot much of the movie with a single $1,500 hand-held camera and threw the rest of his cash into special effects.
And Brad Grey, chairman of the Paramount Motion Picture Group, had an itch. Imagining himself following in the footsteps of the movie moguls Lew Wasserman and Sidney Sheinberg in the days when they took a budding Steven Spielberg and his fledgling company under their wing at Universal, Mr. Grey remembers telling Mr. Abrams: "I'm going to be Sid and Lew, and you're going to be Steven."
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