Sony Pictures has posted a loss of $719 million for the previous year, with struggling box office figures the most likely culprit. 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. Not every movie can be a Minions or Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, a fact that the people at Sony know all too well.
Back in January of this year, the studio took a $1 billion write-down for their film division, which is in desperate need of a hit after a number of projects failed to leave much of an impact with audiences. Months ago, rumors surfaced that Sony was looking to sell their film and television departments, but right now it’s unlikely to be a hot commodity. As the company’s overall profits fell 50 percent, the floundering movie division is a key reason why.
According to Deadline, Sony Pictures is $719 million in the red, a development caused mainly by underperformance at the box office. Would-be smashes like the Ghostbusters reboot and The Magnificent Seven remake posted low worldwide totals for their respective budgets, coming in at $229 million and $162 million. The pricey sci-fi romance Passengers fared somewhat better, but still was arguably not worth the $110+ million investment. Sony had better luck with smaller-budgeted works like the animated hit Sausage Party, which made $136.4 million, but that clearly wasn’t enough to save face. Sony is in bad shape.
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.
Recently, Sony has been developing their own collection of Marvel films – such as Venom and Black Cat & Silver Sable – that are reportedly disconnected from the MCU. The theory is that they’re doing this in order to make Sony Pictures seem more appealing for potential buyers in a sale, since they would then have a go-to franchise to help bolster revenue. It’ll be interesting to watch this situation unfold, as the odds Sony turns things around quickly are low. If they keep losing money at this clip, they are going to have to make drastic changes, and that could mean being acquired by another studio.