April 27, 2014

SHOWBUZZDAILY’s Studio Summer Movie Guide: Sony


We’re just days away from the launch of the summer movie season, the most important part of the year for all of the major studios.  Literally billions of dollars will be on the line over the next several months, with almost every weekend bringing a high-stakes bet to the table from one or more studios.  We’re going to spend the week taking a look at each studio’s strategies and hopes for this high-pressure season.

We’ll start with Sony, since it will be launching the flood of summer movies this week.

LAST SUMMER:  In 2013, Sony truly had the summer of a studio’s nightmares, with one big-budget flop or at least disappointment following another:  After Earth ($60M US/$244M worldwide), White House Down ($73M US/$205M worldwide), The Smurfs 2 ($71M US/$348M worldwide), Elysium ($93M US/$286M worldwide)–even Adam Sandler’s Grown-Ups 2 ($134M US/$247M worldwide) cost too much to produce and underperformed compared to the original ($162M US/$271M worldwide).  The sole piece of good news was the low-budget THIS IS THE END, with $101M in the US, but even that barely sold any tickets overseas ($25M), making it just a moderate success.  This season, the studio must (and will) do better.

MAY:  Sony is wasting no time, grabbing the summer’s opening weekend with THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 (May 2–note, just about every summer movie will actually begin performances the previous evening, but those results are commonly bundled in with the official “opening day”).  In fact, the studio has already launched Spidey 2 in most of the world, with $132M earned to date.  There’s absolutely no question that Spidey 2 will make hundreds of millions of dollars, but the studio’s target is higher than that.  The first Amazing made $262M in the US and $752M worldwide, and while those are huge numbers, they trailed all of the Sam Raimi Spider-Men from the last incarnation of the franchise, despite 3D and Imax ticket prices being added to the mix.  Sony has spent more on Amazing 2, reportedly $250M in production costs (which means $400M+ with worldwide marketing), and has announced an ambitious slate of spin-offs built on Spider-Man becoming its version of The Avengers.  The goal is for Spidey to hit the $1B worldwide club, and although it will own the next 2 weeks at the global box office, the risk is that Godzilla is lurking just behind it, so while profit is inevitable, disappointment is also a possibility.

JUNE:  More presumably sure-thing sequels, as 22 JUMP STREET (June 13) will attempt to build on the $138M US/$202M worldwide totals of 21 Jump.  The risks:  Channing Tatum is coming off his first sizable flop with White House Down, and May will have been quite comedy-heavy with Neighbors, the Adam Sandler/Drew Barrymore Blended and Seth McFarlane’s A Million Ways To Die In the West all having opened in previous weeks.  But the only competition 22 Jump faces on its own opening day is How To Train Your Dragon 2, aimed at a completely different audience, and it will then have the mainstream comedy market to itself for several weeks, so the chances seem good, especially for growth overseas.  In addition, Sony’s genre arm Screen Gems has THINK LIKE A MAN TOO (June 20), which will attempt to ride Kevin Hart’s currently hot coattails to numbers above the first Think‘s $92M US total (as with many African-American-themed films, Thnk had negligible results overseas).

JULY:  The only studio celebrating the success of Cameron Diaz’s The Other Woman this weekend almost as much as 20th was Sony, which has Diaz’s next comedy SEX TAPE opening on July 25.  It’s going after the raunchier R-rated audience of Diaz’s hit Bad Teacher (it also reunites her with her Bad Teacher co-star Jason Segel and director Jake Kasdan), and has a very marketable premise, giving it a strong shot.  Sex Tape is also moderately budgeted compared to the studio’s other openings, increasing potential profit margins.  Earlier in the month, Screen Gems has DELIVER US FROM EVIL (July 2), which will try to parlay a better-than-average cast for low-budget horror (Eric Bana, Olivia Munn) into halfway-decent counterprogramming to the newly rebooted Transformers epic.

AUGUST:  The studio is mostly sitting out the late summer, with the inspirational sports-themed WHEN THE GAME STANDS TALL (August 22) from its TriStar division the only opening, hoping to get a foothold on “sleeper” status.

EARLY ODDS:  The sequels will all sell plenty of tickets–the question is whether they’ll meet high expectations.  Somewhat remarkably, hardly anyone at Sony lost their jobs as a result of last summer’s misses (the head of Marketing was the sacrificial lamb), but further disappointments this year could yield more brutal results.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."