2016 was a rough year for a lot of people, but for Sony Pictures, it was especially dreadful. The company's only high-profile successes were The Angry Birds Movie ($350 million worldwide) and Mei Ren Yu, a.ka. The Mermaid (which did $554 million worldwide, but only $3 million domestically). Ghostbusters and The Magnificent Seven failed to validate their inflated budgets and Passengers didn't fare much better. While smaller projects like The Shallows and Sausage Party managed to turn a profit, it wasn't enough to prevent the company from treading water at best. The last few years have seen Sony's market share dwindle, with little on the horizon (other than the Marvel Studios managed Spider-Man: Homecoming) to get moviegoers talking.
Sony Entertainment's CEO Michael Lynton recently announced he was leaving the company earlier this month, but Sony's head CEO Kaz Hirai hasn't made any announcement about his replacement. The New York Post thinks they know why this is the case, and it isn't pretty. Reportedly, inside sources have informed them that Sony is considering a sale of their film and television divisions, are currently meeting with competing bankers to organize the best deal for the transition. (According to the source, the company is not considering the sale of Sony Music, which is still very profitable for the parent company.) News of the potential sale hasn't been made official by Sony, but their source also gave them a reason for this that is a bit surprising.
“They want to see how The Emoji Movie movie does because they think they have a franchise and it might help them get a better price."
For those who missed the news, The Emoji Movie is scheduled for a release this August and is set to star Shakespearean actor Sir Patrick Stewart as the Poop Emoji. It would be easy to dismiss the film's chances, but assuming its animation is inexpensive, it may be able to turn a profit based solely on curiosity, regardless of its quality.
For Marvel fans who forever await the chance for their beloved characters to return to the fold, this may seem like a golden opportunity for Disney to bring the wall-crawler back into the MCU permanently. Unfortunately, Disney may very well not be interested in purchasing all of Sony Pictures, and the more likely scenario is that Spidey will stay with Sony and whichever new owner takes charge. He is arguably the most valuable IP that Sony still holds, and losing him might make the sale of Sony/Columbia Pictures more difficult. This provides an even more troubling scenario, a change of leadership that might not be as keen on sharing the rights of Spider-Man.
Considering all we have to go off of is rumors and conjecture, it's good to take this news with a "wait and see" approach, but considering how rough the company has had it lately, it's certainly believable.