Sony Pictures Entertainment and other film and TV content operations accounted for a loss of $719 million for the financial year running from April 2016 to March 2017.
In recent years, studios like Universal and Disney have made headlines due to the various commercial records they’ve broken, but not every company can be so lucky. There are only so many dollars to go around at the multiplex, and unfortunately that means somebody will fall short of their ultimate goals. Japanese electronics and entertainment group Sony revealed net profits Friday of $660 million for the 2016-2017 financial year, a 50% reduction from the previous year precipitated by heavy losses in its pictures division.
In short, Sony Pictures had a tough year at the box office. Disappointing returns for much-hyped, big-budget films like the Ghostbusters reboot and a remake of the western The Magnificent Seven certainly didn’t help, the unit saw a 3.7% drop in revenue. The film unit did score a few surprise hits in the raunchy animated comedy Sausage Party ($140 million in global box office on a $19 million budget) and the horror film Don’t Breathe ($157 million gross on a $10 million budget). But, the division also suffered from a difficult year-over-year comparison to 2015, when Sony’s James Bond thriller Spectre pulled in $880 million worldwide.
It remains to be seen how their 2017 slate performs, but things didn’t turn out the way Sony had hoped in the first quarter. Family film Smurfs: The Lost Village has only managed $135.3 million worldwide, and even sci-fi drama Life, made for the moderate cost of $58 million didn’t make an impression. Looking over the next few months, the studio will be holding out hope The Emoji Movie breaks through, and they still have their Marvel Studios collaboration Spider-Man: Homecoming coming through the pipeline. Other titles like The Dark Tower (severe lack of marketing) and Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (close proximity to Star Wars: The Last Jedi) remain huge question marks and ultimately may not pan out. Homecoming is obviously the surest bet, but the studio needs more than one success story.
Meanwhile, the studio will also need to engineer a turnaround as it continues its search for a new CEO. Michael Lynton left the post earlier this year to focus on his role as chairman of Snapchat parent company, Snap Inc. Lynton’s departure came just two years after former studio chief Amy Pascal lost her job in the wake of the embarrassing Sony Pictures hack. Kazuo Hirai, CEO of the parent company, who is reportedly taking a more hands-on role at the film division, is currently looking for Lynton’s replacement, with a new hire expected soon.