In 2016, Walt Disney Pictures dominated the box office charts with a string of critically acclaimed blockbusters, but not every studio was so lucky. In an ultra competitive field, Sony struggled to make much of an impact. They had few successes over the course of the year, the most notable being The Angry Birds Movie, which grossed $349.7 million worldwide (on a $73 million production budget). A number of their would-be tentpoles had difficulties, most infamously Ghostbusters, which managed just $229.1 million globally on a whopping $144 million budget. Other films, such as The Magnificent Seven and Passengers, failed to break out in a meaningful way, leaving Sony in bad shape.
Earlier this month, it was rumored the company was looking to sell their film and television divisions, going so far as to schedule meetings to plot the best course for such a transaction. At the time, some believed Sony's dwindling profits from movies would be the catalyst for such a move, and if the latest numbers are any indication, that would definitely be the case. Sony is about to take a $1 billion write-down for their film division.
The news comes courtesy of The Wrap, who say Sony is taking a "non-cash goodwill impairment charge" of 112.1 billion yen in the third-quarter that ended in December 2016. When converted to American currency, that equates to roughly $983.4 million. In the studio's announcement, "profitability projections of film performance" were one of the reasons cited for the loss. Despite this, Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai remains committed to the film division.
It goes without saying that the studio needs a major hit now more than ever, and it'll be interesting to see which of their 2017 releases fits that bill. Obviously, Spider-Man: Homecoming (which is a joint venture with Disney/Marvel) should do well, but Sony has a few big question marks on their schedule. Among their high-profile productions this year are Smurfs: The Lost Village (a reboot of a floundering franchise), The Emoji Movie (which has received much ridicule since it was announced), and Jumanji (opening shortly after Star Wars: The Last Jedi). There's much anticipation for the adaptation of The Dark Tower, which finally opens in the summer, so hopefully that star-driven vehicle can stir up some box office magic and possibly kickstart a new franchise - which Sony desperately needs right now.
Presumably, the studio would also like to retain the rights to the James Bond franchise, which has made quite a pretty penny over the past five decades. However, that matter remains up in the air after EON's contract with Sony expired following the release of 2015's Spectre, and all's been quiet on that front since. If Sony can keep 007, they'll have at least one reliable cash cow to revisit while they try to figure out the best course of action moving forward. One thing's for sure, they cannot afford to keep taking hits like the ones they were dealt in 2016.
Source: The Wrap