EXCLUSIVE: Sony is re-releasing its Tom Hanks-starring Oscar contender Captain Phillips on Wednesday, January 15 — the day before the Academy Awards nominations are announced — and hopes to expand the film into 1,000 theaters nationwide by that time. Currently, it’s in 640 locations with a mere $797 per-screen average as the film has been winding down its initial run. The true-life film about the captain of a ship taken over by Somali pirates already has made more than $100 million at the domestic box office since bowing in October. Its DVD/Blu-ray release is less than a week later on January 21, but the studio wants to sweeten its chances for Oscars before final ballots are due Feb. 25, hence the expansion. Newcomer Barkhad Abdi has garnered much Oscar buzz for his role as the young man coerced into a mission way beyond his ability. Captain Phillips brought in $510,201 this past weekend, pushing its cume to $103.5 million.
Culver City, Calif. (December 6, 2013) – Michael De Luca is joining Sony Pictures Entertainment as President of Production for Columbia Pictures. De Luca will partner with Hannah Minghella to oversee development and production for the Columbia Pictures label and will report to Doug Belgrad, President, Columbia Pictures.
“Mike has worked with us on several of our highest-quality and most commercial recent films, and he’s nurtured many of our generation’s most important filmmakers. Likewise, Hannah is a tremendous creative executive who has made major contributions to our entire slate, in particular our key Spider-Man and Jump Street franchises. Together, Hannah and Mike will be a formidable team,” said Belgrad.
Deadline’s financial editor talks with host David Bloom about Sony’s big investor meeting this week and the changes and cuts it’s promising to make to enhance the health of its “vital” entertainment unit; the race between Sony and Microsoft as each finally launches long-awaited next-generation videogame consoles; more big cuts at the long-suffering Tribune Co.’s newspapers; and John Malone and Charter Communications look like they’re about to go hunting for more cable companies.
A week after its biggest competitor’s successful launch, Microsoft rolled out its own next-generation video game console, the Xbox One, in a midnight party in Hollywood amid hundreds of gamers and a fair smattering of rappers, actors, YouTube personalities and other celebrities of varying wattage. The Xbox One is $100 more expensive than Sony’s PS4 at $499, but more technically capable thanks to included motion, face and voice sensors. Sony’s console sold 1 million units on its launch day a week ago. Both companies will be fighting for consumer attention this holiday season, which kicks off officially in one more week.
At last night’s event at the Milk Studios in Hollywood, as electronic dance music star Deadmau5 and other DJs spun on a stage, the company showed off its biggest games — including some 22 titles exclusive to the platform — to fans who played for hours ahead of the machine’s first official sale at 12:01 AM. But all the night’s noise obscured Microsoft’s broader push, which is that the machine can integrate all kinds of entertainment while easing access to them all. One of the machine’s niftiest tricks is a slick and relatively reliable ability to seamlessly switch between, or even simultaneously watch/use/play, a TV show, the Internet and a game with virtually no delays. The device’s sensors can recognize when a person has sat down in front of it, and automatically open up that person’s customized interface on screen. It can even do so for more than one person at a time. Voice and gesture commands work pretty well, though many reviewers have said the gee-whiz tech isn’t reliable enough yet to completely replace using a hand controller to navigate.
When they introduced the console six months ago, Microsoft reps talked up new kinds of interactive programming being created by Microsoft Studios under former CBS honcho Nancy Tellem. But last night only games were on display. They didn’t even demonstrate the offerings for fantasy football as part of their new deal with the NFL.
In October 2001, then-Sony Corp of America CEO Howard Stringer declared that the network production business “doesn’t make any sense anymore,” effectively closing the studio’s primetime TV division, Columbia TriStar Television. Overall deals were dissolved, executives were let go, and the development slate was trashed in a move Sony projected would save it more that $100 million a year. Sony‘s syndication TV chief Steve Mosko was tapped to head a stripped-down TV unit, Columbia TriStar Domestic Television (renamed Sony Pictures TV in 2002), which consisted primarily of syndication/daytime and modest international operations.
Today, 12 years later, Stringer’s successor Michael Lynton announced that the company will make “a significant shift in emphasis from motion pictures to higher-margin television.” This is Sony’s biggest public acknowledgement to date of the growing significance of its TV business, which has been rapidly expanding during the past decade, mainly under the radar. Sony does not separate its movie and TV revenues, but it has been well known that TV has contributed well over 50% of Sony Entertainment’s operating income for the past couple of years, with some indicating that the TV group’s contribution may be over 60%, especially with the film division going through a rough time. While there have been profit stalwarts, like Wheel Of Fortune, Jeopardy!, Days Of Our Lives, The Young & The Restless and the Seinfeld off-network rights, there also have been new areas of growth. The biggest revenue driver has been Sony’s international TV networks, which have expanded to 127 channels in 150 countries, up from 78 and 83 a decade ago.
As the biggest profit generator likely for the entire Sony Entertainment, the international network group is likely to get the lion’s share of the additional resources the company will be committing to its TV operations, to go toward new investments and growing the existing channels. But TV production also is expected to get a boost. After the bloodbath of 2001, it took awhile for Sony to get back in the network business. The studio took a different approach than the one that got it into financial trouble in the first place — signing a lot of pricey overall deals and spending a ton on development and pilots to support them with little to show for it in terms of on-air series. Burned by the volume network business, Sony forged its way into the then-uncharted world of basic cable original programming with FX’s The Shield, which it distributed internationally, Rescue Me, Damages and Justified and AMC’s Breaking Bad. It gradually returned to network TV with modest hits such as Rules Of Engagement and Community.
It’s been years since we’ve seen new models of the major gaming consoles battle head-to-head in the marketplace. And Sony‘s PlayStation 4, in its first weekend, has set a high bar in initial sales for Microsoft to try to beat later this week when it releases the Xbox One. Sony’s stock is +1.5% thus far today — when most stocks are down — following the company’s announcement yesterday that it sold 1M PS4s in the first 24 hours after Friday when it was released in the U.S. and Canada. ”Sales remain very strong in North America, and we expect continued enthusiasm as we launch the PlayStation 4 in Europe and Latin America on November 29,” Sony Computer Entertainment CEO Andrew House added. Even so, Benchmark Co analyst Mike Hickey notes that the roll out was “marred” by reports of a problem: “A pulsing blue light in the centre of the console, nicknamed the Blue Light of Death in tribute to the Xbox 360′s infamous ‘Red Ring of Death’, has reportedly heralded the doom on hundreds of bricked PS4s,” he says in a report. A company spokesman in Tokyo told Bloomberg that these are “isolated incidents and represent a very small percentage of total units shipped to consumers to date.” Still, Sony posted several suggestions for consumers to fix the problem “while we investigate.”
Contenders 2013: ‘Captain Phillips,’ ‘American Hustle,’ ‘Tim’s Vermeer,’ ‘Before Midnight,’ ‘Saving Mr. Banks,’ ‘Lone Survivor,’ ‘Despicable Me 2’ & ‘The Croods’ Bid For Oscar
Anna Lisa Raya is a Deadline contributor.
The second half of Deadline’s 3rd annual Contenders event at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills got off to an energized start after lunch on the outdoor terrace. Deadline Awards columnist Pete Hammond returned with Captain Phillips star Barkhad Abdi, who had one of the bigger moments of the day when he revealed he ad-libbed his momentous “I am the captain now” line in the Sony film, essentially stealing the scene from Tom Hanks. The film’s producers, Michael De Luca and Dana Brunetti, were spotted in the audience joining in the roaring applause.
Anyone who’s been waiting for David O. Russell’s follow-up to last year’s Oscar-nominated Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle (also for for Sony), will be happy to know the film was locked down today. This is per one of the film’s producers, Richard Suckle, who was on hand to discuss the genesis of the film which is loosely based on the ABSCAM scandals of the 1970s. One of his funnier reveals was that star Bradley Cooper — not wanting to perm his hair for the film — spent hours in hair and makeup every day getting it curled. Co-star Christian Bale, on the other hand, gained 40 lbs. for his role and shaved the crown of his head to perfect his character’s outlandish comb over.
Julie Delpy, co-writer and star of Sony Pictures Classics’ Before Midnight, had a lot to say about the intense writing and preparation that went into making the film appear as improvised and natural as it does. Acting the role was “extremely stressful,” she told Hammond. “There’s no plot. There’s nothing to hold onto but character and emotional arc.” Also for SPC is Tim’s Vermeer — a documentary about one man’s attempt to recreate a Johannes Vermeer painting — which was uncharacteristically directed by Teller (better known as the other half of Penn & Teller). He was thankful for his editor, Patrick Sheffield, who made sense of the over 2,400 hours of footage. Writer Kelly Marcel was on-hand to discuss Disney’s Saving Mr. Banks, the only film ever allowed to feature Walt Disney as a character. She called the studio “unbelievably brave” in how hands-off they were with her and director John Lee Hancock.
Related: PHOTOS: Contenders 2013 Gallery
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