Sony has succeeded in growing its operating income in a tough environment and, with Blu-ray Disc, won the next-generation DVD format war this year — certainly a long-term benefit. The film studio had its problems, however, with 2008's hits not quite measuring up to last year's crop. The company's business overall has been hurt by an unfriendly currency-exchange rate. Its U.S.-traded shares are off 62% for the year.

Sony will slash 8,000 workers from its ranks of 160,000 worldwide to combat recessions in Japan, the U.S. and elsewhere. With global economies tanking, Sony's embattled electronics unit is suffering most — especially in light of a growing rivalry with Apple — while the video game unit must contend with fierce competition from Nintendo and Microsoft. Sony, in fact, was the leader of the last generation of video game hardware but has fallen to third place in the current generation. Sony's layoffs and other measures are intended to save the company $1.1 billion a year; some analysts criticize that as too little given the way consumers so drastically have scaled back purchases of electronic gadgets.

Next year's big film releases include "The Taking of Pelham 123," with Denzel Washington and John Travolta, "The Green Hornet" and "Angels and Demons," all under the Columbia label. The latter is a sequel to "The Da Vinci Code," which grossed $217 million domestically in 2006.