Japanese electronics and entertainment conglomerate, Sony Group saw revenues rise in its music, games and pictures units in the second quarter of its current financial year. But group profits were halved from JPY459 billion to JPY283 billion ($2.50 billion at current exchange rates).
The company reported its figures for the three months from July to September on Thursday afternoon local time. Group sales increased by 13% to JPY2.37 trillion. Income before taxes dropped 54% and earnings per share fell to JPY170.26, compared with JPY367.08 in the equivalent quarter last year.
Sony’s ‘pictures division,’ which straddles feature film, television production and channel operations, saw revenues increase by 35% from $1.76 billion in the second quarter of last year, to $2.37 billion in the three months to Sept. 2021. Operating profits fell 7% from $309 million to $288 million.
Games and network services enjoyed a sales gain of 29% with the most recent quarter delivering JPY654 billion, compared with JPY507 billion. The segment’s operating income went the opposite direction, falling 21% to JPY82.7 billion, compared with JPY105 billion.
Music followed the same pattern. Quarterly revenues increased by 18% from JPY231 billion to JPY272 billion. But the segment’s operating income fell by 7% from JPY54.3 billion to JPY506 billion.
Despite the lower profitability of all three entertainment division in the most recent quarter, Sony increased its full year guidance for the full year in both music and pictures units. It now forecasts net year-on-year profit improvements in pictures and music.
Sony left its forecast for games unchanged. It is indicating a 5% year-on-year profits decline, but that still leaves the games unit as the group’s most profitable division.
In recent months, Sony has completed its acquisition of specialty anime streamer Crunchyroll and announced the proposed purchase of Firesprite. It also recently announced plans to sell GSN Games to Scopely for $1 billion, which it said would generate a gain that the group would likely show as operating profit.
In September, Sony said that it would merge its Indian TV business with Zee Entertainment Enterprises. Parts of the deal, notably the choices of the merged group’s senior management, are being contested in court by minority investors.
Prior to the results on the group’s Tokyo-traded shares had come off their recent highs to finish 1% lower at JPY12,970 on Thursday. In New York, the group’s ADR shares had fallen 3.3% on Wednesday to $113.23.
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Peter Chernin is reuniting with Nancy Utley, a beloved figurehead in the indie film world who formerly co-ran Searchlight Pictures.
Utley and her newly launched production company, Lake Ellyn Entertainment, has signed a first-look deal with Chernin Entertainment. The pact calls for Utley to produce film and TV content for Chernin’s prolific production company.
Chernin Entertainment president of film and television Jenno Topping announced the news. Terms were not disclosed.
Peter Chernin knew Utley when working at News Corp. and overseeing the 20th Century Fox film empire, which included Searchlight.
“Nancy is the ultimate executive—smart, savvy, experienced, and kind. She built Searchlight Pictures into one of the jewels of the film business; a company with an unparalleled record of achievement and a reputation for nurturing the finest filmmakers. I’m delighted to have her join Jenno and me and the rest of our team,” Chernin said in a statement.
Added Utley, “After decades as a studio executive, I’m excited to get closer to the making of film and television as a producer. My focus will continue to be on writer and director-driven projects with distinctive authorial voices.”
Chernin Entertainment has a first-look deal with Netflix that will now extend to Utley’s projects. Chernin’s company and the streamer struck their arrangement in April 2020; this summer, Chernin’s popular Fear Street trilogy debuted on the streamer.
Utley served for years as co-president of Fox Searchlight alongside Steve Gilula. They were named co-chairman in 2018, a title they kept following the Disney-Fox merger (the specialty label is now known as Searchlight Pictures.) The duo departed in April of this year.
During her tenure, Searchlight tiles amassed 159 Oscar nominations, including best picture winners Nomadland — last year’s winner — The Shape of Water, 12 Years a Slave, Birdman and Slumdog Millionaire.
Other classic Searchlight tiles include Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and Beasts of the Southern Wild, The Descendants, Boys Don’t Cry and Sideways, to name a few.
Utley was also in the Wes Anderson business, helping to shepherd such films as The Grand Budapest Hotel and, most recently, The French Dispatch, which finally opened in theaters this past weekend to stellar numbers.
Chernin Entertainment’s upcoming film projects include Slumberland and Luther for Netflix. Upcoming series include the third season of See on Apple TV+.
ABC, Hulu and Disney General Entertainment’s Shannon Ryan has reorganized her marketing, creative and communications departments, starting with a new reporting structure that puts ABC Entertainment, ABC News, Disney TV Studios, Freeform and Disney’s syndication unit under one oversight.
Under the new setup, Naomi Bulochnikov, the senior VP of communications and publicity for ABC and General Entertainment, will add news, studio, syndication and Freeform to her existing ABC Entertainment purview. Disney TV Studios’ Chris Alexander, ABC News’ Van Scott, Disney syndication’s Kim Harbin and Freeform’s Kristen Andersen and their teams will now report to Bulochnikov. (In the case of Freeform, where Bulochnikov oversaw publicity prior to ABC Entertainment, it’s a bit of a homecoming.)
Hulu will maintain a separate team led by Barrie Gruner, who has been upped to executive VP (from VP) of Hulu Originals Marketing & Publicity. Gruner, who handles strategy, campaign management, communications, creative, media, social, events and talent relations for Hulu Originals, also adds oversight of marketing/publicity for Onyx Collective. Under Gruner, Spencer Peeples has been promoted to senior VP (formerly VP) of Hulu Originals Marketing & Awards, and will also lead an Awards “Center of Excellence” (COE) for all content brands in the Disney TV portfolio, which means awards teams from other departments will report dotted line to Peeples.
The moves were announced Wednesday by Ryan, president of Content Marketing for Hulu & General Entertainment, calling it a furthering of “the company’s content-first business model.”
“This new structure will allow us to break down silos so we can better support our teams and vast content portfolio,” Ryan wrote in a memo to staffers. “By unifying the marketing and PR areas across all of our great brands, we will establish clarity for our organization, foster greater collaboration and create even more opportunities for all of us to succeed.”
The restructure comes following a larger alignment implemented last fall by Peter Rice, chairman of Disney General Entertainment Content, in his division. Under Rice, DGE split its marketing operations into agencies, including Ryan as president, Content Marketing, Hulu and General Entertainment.
Among other changes, Aaron Goldman has been upped to exec VP (from senior VP) of creative marketing, ABC & General Entertainment. He’ll continue to lead ABC Entertainment’s creative team, and will now lead a “Creative Center of Excellence” (COE) for all brands, including ABC Entertainment, ABC News, Freeform, Hulu Originals and Onyx Collective.
As head of creative marketing, Goldman handles creative strategy, on and off-air design, marketing production, and A/V creative, heading a team that includes senior VP Jill Hershman and VP Melissa King. Additionally, the creative teams within ABC News, Freeform, Hulu Originals and Onyx report dotted line to Goldman under the “COE” structure. And Erin Weir has been promoted to executive VP (formerly senior VP) of marketing, ABC & General Entertainment, leading campaign planning and strategy, experiential, digital and owned assets for ABC Entertainment while also adding ABC News, Disney Television Studios and Syndication to her mix. Disney TV Studios’ Steven Melnick, ABC News’ Alan Ives and syndication’s Tom Connor and their teams now report into Weir. Remaining in place are Joe Ortiz, senior VP of marketing, Freeform, and Kristen Graham, senior VP, talent relations, at ABC Entertainment. “Please join me in congratulating Naomi, Aaron, Erin, Barrie and Spencer on their newly expanded roles,” Ryan wrote in her memo. “I’ve had the privilege of working very closely with these exceptional and thoughtful leaders, and know they will continue to foster an environment that will enable all of you to thrive, think big and do your best work ever… I’m confident that this new structure will give us the opportunity to increase our strength by allowing us to work more closely together across our agency.”
[Photos: Barrie Gruner, Erin Weir, Naomi Bulochnikov]