CES: Sony Touts Creative Strategy With 'Spider-Verse,' 'Avatar' Sequels

Lord and Miller at Sony-Publicity-H 2019

"Sony is a creative entertainment company," Sony CEO Kenichiro Yoshida asserted Monday as he opened the tech giant's CES press conference in Las Vegas, during which speakers included Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse creators Phil Lord and Christopher Miller and recording artist Pharrell Williams.

Yoshida, who assumed the role of Sony chief last April, positioned Sony technologies in the context of how they drive creativity. In all, the press conference was less product-focused than it had been in recent years. "Creatives, when combined with technology, bring about amazing content and entertainment," he said.

Sony Pictures Entertainment chair Tom Rothman reiterated the message and talked about the company's goal of building new franchises. "Today, Disney and Sony are the only companies with the rights to make film or TV content based on the enormously popular Marvel characters,” he said, adding that animation "has been hugely successful in leveraging our IP."

Lord and Miller, creators of Sony Pictures Animation's Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, then took the CES stage, on the heels of their film's Golden Globe win on Sunday for best animated feature. "We tried to make a never-before-seen style," Lord said, adding that the movie's tagline was "Anyone can wear the mask" and "that went for the crew," who were encouraged to take risks.

On live-action, Rothman helped to highlight Sony Electronics' top-of-the-line Venice digital cinematography camera, which James Cameron and Jon Landau selected to shoot Avatar 2 and 3 through their Lightstorm Entertainment (the  sequels are being produced and released through Fox). "Jim is one of the greatest and most innovative filmmakers of our time ... and he also is one of the most meticulous," said the exec, adding that eight TV series are additionally using the Venice camera, while various Sony camera models are being used in feature production.

During the presentation, Sony also addressed the ongoing changes taking place in the motion picture business. Rothman said that "Sony remains a firm believer in the theatrical experience," but added that the home market is also "critical."

Sony Pictures Animation president Kristine Belson talked about the importance of maintaining the filmmakers' creative intent on consumer displays, and also introduced Sony's latest 8K Bravia TV line, with models in sizes up to 98 inches.

Williams was on hand to help Sony present technical efforts that reach the music business.

On gaming, Yoshida reported that 91.6 million PlayStation 4 systems have now been sold and the platform has more than 90 million users each month.