Sony Corp. CEO: Film Studio Shake-up Will Take "Two to Three Years to Produce Results"

Sony CEO Kaz Hirai

Kaz Hirai spoke about his expectations for hit movies from the studio under the management of Tom Rothman.

Sony Corp. CEO Kaz Hirai suggested the company's movie division will take "two to three years to produce results" during a corporate strategy briefing on Wednesday morning at its Tokyo headquarters.

The exec said Sony was focused on the creation of quality content, crucial to both the company's entertainment business and for synergies with its other divisions, citing TV series Breaking Bad, spinoff Better Call Saul and The Blacklist, along with Adele's 25 album. But he failed to list any Sony Pictures Entertainment movies.

In response to a question from The Hollywood Reporter about the lack of a recent SPE hit to use as an example, Hirai said that the new management of Tom Rothman, who replaced Amy Pascal at SPE at the beginning of last year, would take time to produce results.

"Because of the nature of the movie business, productions that have been greenlit by the new team will take two to three years to produce results," said Hirai. "But recent Sony movies such as Angry Birds and Money Monster have been well received and we have high expectations for Ghostbusters."

The CEO also was questioned about the recent announcement to double his take-home pay. Hirai emphasized that he forewent bonuses during the first three years of his reign, bringing Sony to profitability before seeing any increase in his pay.

He added that the restructuring “has firmly put the company on the path to growth.”

PlayStation 4 has been a recent bright spot for Sony and continued to exceed expectations in terms of sales, said Hirai, who linked its success to growth in the company's network business and the expansion of the Vue TV platform in the U.S. He also touted the October launch of the PlayStation virtual reality platform as another potential growth driver.

Sony is investing in artificial intelligence and robotics research, including the development of an android that can develop emotional bonds with humans, said Hirai. The company also will launch a Sony Innovation Fund in July to invest in startups and new technology.

Operating income of ¥500 billion ($4.9 billion), a figure Sony has only achieved once in its history, in 1997, remains the forecast for the 2017 fiscal year.


 

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