Sony Corp. earnings may be up when compared to the same time period from last year, but their struggling film division remains in the red, taking an $86 million loss for the first fiscal quarter of 2017. Whereas studios like Disney and Universal constantly rake in the cash thanks to massive tentpoles like the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Fast and Furious franchises, Sony is not so lucky. They've hit tough times financially of late, reporting a loss of $719 million for 2016. Of course, some of their movies do find success commercially, but a few would-be blockbusters failed to make much of an impact. The infamous Ghostbusters reboot from 2016, for example, made $229.1 million worldwide on a $144 million production budget - presumably not enough to move forward with a followup.
Things seem to be looking up for the studio thanks to Spider-Man: Homecoming emerging as a big summer hit, but outside of Sony's partnership with Marvel Studios, they're still in a tough spot. During the first quarter of the 2017 fiscal year (which ran from April - June), Sony improved somewhat, though they were not in the black.
According to THR, Sony Pictures lost $86 million in the quarter. That figure is better than the $103 million loss they posted during the first quarter of 2016, but obviously not what executives were hoping for. It's important to note the time frame; since the quarter ended in June, the gross of Homecoming (currently $633.5 million worldwide) did not boost the numbers. Over those three months, Sony's film slate consisted of underwhelming endeavors like Smurfs: The Lost Village ($45 million domestic, $196.8 million worldwide) and Rough Night ($21.9 million domestic, $38.7 million worldwide). Edgar Wright's Baby Driver has proven to be a success, but since that film was released on June 28, it has made a majority of its money in July.
It will be interesting to see how things play out for Sony throughout the rest of the year. Among their future high-profile releases is The Dark Tower, the long-gestating adaptation of Stephen King's acclaimed series of novels. Dark Tower encountered more than its fair share of production woes and had its release frequently delayed, raising questions about its potential quality. There's a chance the numbers of Homecoming are canceled out should The Dark Tower fall. Sony also has Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle coming in December. However, that film is not in the best position to thrive, as it will be going up against Star Wars: The Last Jedi during the holiday season.
These developments illustrate Sony would definitely like to hold on to the distribution rights for the James Bond series, which are still up for grabs following the release of 2015's Spectre. As one of the most iconic properties in film, 007 is a rare box office lock every time out, so if Sony loses the franchise to another bidder, they'll be reeling as they scramble to find more bankable brands that can draw in large crowds. Hopefully, it all works out for the studio, and they turn things around in the next few months.