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It’s been a bad summer for Sony Pictures. Ok, it’s been a bad year for Sony Pictures. Not only has the studio gone without a breakout hit all year, but most of their films actually classify as misses. With apologies to Kevin James, when the highlight of your year is Paul Blart, you’re not having a very good year.
The Hollywood Reporter has the story about the rough year that Sony has been having. Former studio co-chair Amy Pascal apparently predicted the lack of breakout hits in an e-mail. An interesting coincidence considering the Sony hack which lead to the e-mail’s release went a long way to her losing the position. Still, she wasn’t wrong. While every other major studio has at least one film that has grossed $300 million, Sony’s strongest performer thus far is the aforementioned Mall Cop sequel which has grossed barely over $100 million. We don’t want to beat up on it too much, it did only cost $30 million to make, so it was a very profitable film. That’s something, right? Sony has only brought in $564 million worldwide. Universal’s Jurassic World has done better on its own, and that’s just domestically. Yeah, it’s ugly.
Everything else gets a "fails to meet expectations" on its performance review. Aloha, Chappie, Pixels... the box office has met them all with a collective "meh." Pixels is actually Sony’s second highest grossing movie of the year. No, really. The movie that just opened, and did so without impressing anybody. It’s number 2.
No wonder Sony was willing to make the Spider-Man deal with Marvel. They needed to do something. Since the release of Amazing Spider-Man 2, Sony hasn’t seen a movie do nearly as well, and by all accounts that was still a disappointment financially. Spider-Man was the one sure-fire money maker in their stable, and they weren’t confident they could make money with it on their own anymore.
There are a couple of bright spots for Sony though. They may be hoping James Bond will save them. Spectre will be out in November, and after the smash success of Skyfall, James Bond may at least open to better than average numbers. Although this could be Sony’s last bite at that apple.
There’s also Hotel Transylvania 2 this fall. The original was able to break that $300 million mark, so that’s good news for the sequel. There’s also the possibility that Robert Zemeckis’ The Walk may help the studio. The story of the man who made a tightrope walk between the towers of the World Trade Center in 1974 is being set up as a 3D spectacle film. If the film is a hit, the added revenue from IMAX and 3D screenings should help cushion the box office even more.
These things always go in cycles but Sony has a fairly deep hole to climb out of. A ship this big doesn’t make a course correction all at once, but hopefully they’ve figured out what they need to do and have already started to make the necessary changes to avoid the iceberg.