However, Bruckheimer isn't interested in solely making expensive action features in the vein of the "Top Gun" and "Beverly Hills Cop" pictures.

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Last year, Bruckheimer set up the Los Angeles-based earthquake thriller "Shake" at Paramount. The moderately budgeted film, about an FBI agent whose efforts to bring a serial killer to justice are imperiled by a major temblor, had been in development at Disney at one point, but Bruckheimer said that "it is something they wouldn't make because it is a harder-edge movie."

Brad Grey, chairman and chief executive of Paramount, said the studio's diverse tastes would suit Bruckheimer, who he said has expressed interest in "making very interesting, lower budget fare" in addition to producing "what you'd define as our biggest budget blockbusters."

"Jerry needed, at this moment in his career, a studio that plans to back him 100%," Grey said.

He said that getting into business with Bruckheimer was not a move designed to increase the size of the studio's slate in the aftermath of the DreamWorks Animation and Marvel distribution deals ending.

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This year, Paramount will release 10 movies, and plans to put out 12 next year. Warner Bros., the biggest movie studio, will put out 18 films this year and 17 next year. According to Box Office Mojo, as of Dec. 1, Paramount was No. 7 in terms of box-office market share this year. Last year it also finished seventh, though it was No. 1 in 2011.

"If you look at the economics, market share clearly is a barometer that people look at, but the barometer that Viacom looks at — and our shareholders look at — is our margins," Grey said. "We have a business plan that works for us creatively, as well as for our shareholders."

Paramount is profitable and was a standout in Viacom's most recent quarterly earnings. For the fiscal quarter ended Sept. 30, the studio posted adjusted operating income of $291 million, up 49% from a year earlier. Revenue was up 11% to $1.2 billion.

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Bruckheimer first worked with Paramount in 1980, when the studio released his "American Gigolo." He began making movies at Paramount with partner Don Simpson in 1983; their first picture there was "Flashdance." Simpson died in 1996.

In both "Top Gun" and "Beverly Hills Cop," Bruckheimer will face the sort of oversized expectations that come with restarting a storied franchise. "Top Gun," released in 1986, put Cruise on the A-list after it grossed more than $350 million worldwide. And the "Beverly Hills Cop" film series — three were released from 1984 to 1994 — remains Murphy's signature movie franchise.

"They are good titles, but it depends on the scripts and the artists involved with them," entertainment business analyst Harold Vogel said. "You have a little bit of suspicion about them, because everybody is older, and it is a new audience they have to attract."

"Top Gun 2" presents a unique challenge for Bruckheimer and the studio because Tony Scott, who directed "Top Gun" and was slated to make the sequel, died in August 2012.

"We are hopeful that we can make this picture in a way that respects the memory of Tony," Grey said.

Times staff writer Ryan Faughnder contributed to this report.