UPDATED, 1:50 PM: “We do very much have the ambition about creating a bigger universe around Spider-Man. There are a number of scripts in the works” involving characters and villains in the series, Sony Pictures Entertainment chief Michael Lynton told analysts in a Q&A session wrapping up his operation’s first meeting with investors. But he didn’t offer details, except that Sony is “working closely with Marvel and Disney.” But lest fans of the Marvel world take that to mean that Spider-Man could finally join his buddies in an upcoming The Avengers or other Marvel/Disney film — think again. Sony’s longtime rights deal with Marvel for Spider-Man allows them to exploit any character within the superhero’s universe — including villains, girlfriends or even Aunt May. But Disney, which acquired Marvel in 2009, owns merchandising rights to Spider-Man and those related characters, so any further exploitation would have to involve Disney.
While Sony today promised to hold down costs, especially for films, Lynton says that “we have in no way shape or form lost our commitment to the movie business. The movie business sits at the heart and soul of the company.” And he wouldn’t feel constrained from approving a major project. “We never once found ourselves lacking for capital” when it comes to a needed investment including an acquisition. That also was true when Disney snagged Marvel. With theme parks and several cable channels, Disney has “a few more channels to exploit” the properties. “You have to measure it against that backdrop.”
Related: Sony Pictures To Shift Emphasis From Movies To TV, Will Cut Film Output For 2014 READ MORE »
CEO Kazuo Hirai just gave his movie, TV, and music enterprises a strong endorsement as he kicked off the company’s long-awaited investor briefing about the businesses. “I know that the whole of Sony is greater than the sum of … Read More »
The President and CEO of Sony Corp has had a busy year, so he’s ringing in 2014 in Las Vegas — by delivering the opening speech at CES on January 7, that is. Kazuo Hirai … Read More »
UPDATE: The battling continues in this war of words. Daniel Loeb’s hedge fund Third Point tonight made clear it won’t stop destabilizing Sony and its entertainment division after the Japanese parent company rejected Daniel Loeb’s pressure to spinoff its showbiz unit. Third Point said it will “explore further options to create value for shareholders” and “welcomes Sony’s commitment to greater transparency and expects this will foster a culture of accountability. Sony has clearly recognized the performance issued we identified. In the new spirit of transparency, management should communicate more specific plans to improve entertainment results. A renewed focus on profitability and better margins should reduce bureaucracy and thus free up resources to invest in high quality motion pictures, filmed entertainment, networks and music, aligning shareholder interests, the creative community and consumers.”
Earlier today, Sony told Third Point CEO Daniel Loeb today it is rejecting his proposal to create a stock for its entertainment assets and then sell up to a 20% stake to the public. The board has “unanimously concluded that continuing to own 100% of our entertainment business is the best path forward and is integral to Sony’s strategy,” CEO Kazuo Hirai says in a letter to the hedge fund manager. “We do, however, expect to increase disclosure regarding Sony’s entertainment businesses.” Hirai adds that he’s “very focused on increasing margins at [Sony] Pictures.” That’s a particular sore point for Loeb, especially following the box office results for After Earth and White House Down, which he said last week “bombed spectacularly.” In response, actor George Clooney told my colleague Mike Fleming Jr. that Loeb is “a carpet bagger…who is trying to spread a climate of fear that pushes studios to want to make only tent poles.” Hirai says that he’ll cut costs while also “aggressively investing in our global television production business” and “building upon our diversified film slate strategy.” He notes that Sony has “instituted an even more exacting ‘green light’ process for film production, focusing more intensively on overall slate profitability as well as per film returns-on-investment.” Sony’s decisions were based on its belief that demand for premium content will grow “at unprecedented levels” as broadband and mobile devices become nearly ubiquitous. Shareholders “will benefit from owning all, rather than a part, of these valuable [content] assets.” Loeb is an investor in Variety with Deadline’s parent company, PMC.
The letter follows below:
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“It’s premature at this point in time to speculate one way or the other,” Sony president and CEO Kazuo Hirai told CNBC today when asked whether an investor proposal to sell off portions of the company’s entertainment assets will succeed. The Sony chief made his comments as the company hired Morgan Stanley and Citi to review the proposal from shareholder Daniel Loeb’s hedge fund Third Point. “The process really is, as was described earlier, a discussion that needs happen really at the board level of the organization and we want to make sure that we have a through discussion of the merits of the proposal before we come to any conclusion,” he told the business network. Any discussion of Third Point’s proposal will have to wait until the new Sony board is elected later this month.
Related: Who Is Daniel Loeb And What Does He Want With Sony?
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It’s a big day in music publishing with the closing of the $2.2B cash and debt deal by a consortium led by Sony/ATV — Sony’s partnership with Michael Jackson’s estate — for one of the industry’s crown … Read More »
CEO Kazuo Hirai says his effort will result in major changes in the television and mobile businesses — and confirmed his plan to slash about 10,000 jobs this year, equal to 6% of Sony’s employees worldwide. But he … Read More »
The company’s U.S. shares are down nearly 8% in pre-market trading after it said that it lost about $6.4B in the fiscal year that ended in March — up from the $2.7B loss it projected in February. The difference is due … Read More »
The total represents about 6% of its workforce, according to multiple reports apparently beginning with Japan’s Nikkei. About half of the layoffs will come from Sony’s chemicals and its flat-panel businesses. Development Bank of Japan has already agreed to … Read More »
Kazuo Hirai officially replaces Howard Stringer as Sony’s CEO next week. But today he signalled his determination to revitalize Sony’s struggling electronics operations — and potentially take on its more glamorous rival, Apple – by unveiling a wide-ranging reorg. The new plan eliminates the company’s consumer products and services group, which Hirai had led, and the business-oriented professional device and solutions group. Hirai will personally run a new Home Entertainment Business that will include TV sets, arguably Sony’s most important product right now. But the company says that it is “positioning digital imaging, game and mobile as the three core pillars of its electronics business, and going forward aims to concentrate its resources in these areas to further reinforce the businesses.” Here’s the company’s announcement: Read More »
Now we know why Sony wanted to announce yesterday that Kazuo Hirai will replace Howard Stringer as CEO in April. U.S. shares are down about 5.4% in pre-market trading after the electronics and entertainment giant released a fiscal 3Q … Read More »
Sony Corp has announced the ascension of Kazuo Hirai to the role of president and CEO, with current chief Howard Stringer to become chairman of the board of directors. The moves were expected as Sony last year expanded Hirai’s duties to oversee all of its all-important consumer products and services business. The Sony press release is below:
TOKYO, Japan – Sony Corporation (“Sony”) today announced that Kazuo Hirai has been appointed as President and Chief Executive Officer, effective April 1, 2012. Sir Howard Stringer, currently Chairman, CEO and President, will become Chairman of the Board of Directors in June, 2012.
Mr. Stringer recommended to the Sony Board of Directors that Mr. Hirai, currently Executive Deputy President, be his successor as President and CEO. Mr. Stringer will continue as Chairman of Sony Corporation until his ascension to the Board Chairmanship, which will become effective upon Board approval following the annual meeting of shareholders in June, when the current Chairman, Yotaro Kobayashi, will retire. Mr. Hirai is also expected to be appointed to the Board at the June shareholders meeting.
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