Sony Corp made a major announcement last week that Kazuo Hirai would step down as President and CEO of the company. He would become the company’s Director Chairman instead. Longtime executive Kenichiro Yoshida, who has been a “confidante and business partner” to Hirai will replace him. Hirai will officially step down on April 1st of this year.
After this announcement, industry experts speculated Sony is “ready for sale”.
In his remarks after the publication of Sony’s third-quarter financial results, Yoshida said Friday that there was “… an urgent need for change. Our position in the global market is very different to where it was 20 years ago.” He expressed an emphasis on the technology side of Sony’s business. “… the top global companies now are all technology companies… Since Sony is a technology company we feel a sense of crisis about that situation.”
Yoshida has had a history with Sony’s technology side of the company. He led restructurings that ditched the Sony Vaio and didn’t make an overhaul of Sony’s smartphones a financial priority. Under his strategy, the company has focused on their strengths like the PlayStation.
What That Might Mean For Movies
This has led to some concern that the Pictures Division for Sony will be sold, as the third-quarter earnings for the group started to show a turn-around. However, the three months operating profit does little to wipe out previous losses. Those three months were when Yoshida was working with Hirai to help with some of the financials.
Sony has had its up and downs with its movies. Recently they’ve had a string of success. Spider-Man: Homecoming was the 5th grossing film world wide in 2017. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle followed up that success becoming the 8th highest grossing film in 2017. Sony also saw critical success with Baby Driver. However, the flops do stand out with films like The Emoji Movie, The Dark Tower, and Flatliners.
To add fuel to the fire, Sony Pictures does control a number of popular franchises including Men in Black, Underworld, Resident Evil, and Hotel Transylvania. Not to mention they still control the rights to Marvel’s most popular character, Spider-Man.
The Uncertain Future
Despite all the Wall Street speculation, there has been no official discussion of a sale. Sony Pictures is slated to release movies through the year 2020. The direction Yoshida takes the company in coming months may change all that.
Sony Studio insiders are more optimistic about how Yoshida will direct the company. They believe it will look to grow its film and television business. They suggest that the studio may look to acquire or merge with other studios. However, with Disney’s recent acquisition of Fox’s Film and Television entertainment, it might be harder for Sony to compete in that market.
In a recent shakeup at Sony- the company just let go of three Presidents of the Pictures Division. International Channels head Andy Kaplan, chief TV marketing officer Sheraton Kalouria, and home entertainment head Man Jit Singh were outed in an effort to streamline the management ranks.
Keith LeGoy, president of Sony’s TV distribution will have oversight of the home entertainment division while Mike Hopkins the Sony Pictures TV chairman will oversee the international channels. Shakeups like this may point more to the sale than the expansion of the Pictures Division. It also makes the future for their slated films more uncertain.
Avengers: Infinity War will feature Spider-Man’s Tom Holland. And the future of the MCU’s Phase 4 may have him as a cornerstone for the rest of their films. Robert Downey Jr. is famously the cornerstone to the first three phases of the Marvel films and he helped usher in Holland’s Spider-Man: Homecoming.
Avengers: Infinity War will be in theaters May 4 of this year.