Despite the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, Sony Pictures Entertainment continued an upward trend in first quarter results with a $230M profit for the three months ending June 30, 2020. That compares to a $3.7M profit in the same quarter of 2019 and a $68M loss the previous year.
While Sony Corp last quarter declined to reveal forecasts, today the conglomerate projected a 41B yen ($387M) full-year profit in the Pictures division, down from 68.2B yen ($643M at today’s rates) last year. It noted the negative impact on financial results due to delays in theatrical releases will be felt over two to three years. Offsetting this to a degree is an expected decrease in related marketing costs.
Amid coronavirus closures, theatrical sales fell to $6M versus $164M in the same quarter of 2019 and $471M in Q4 2019. which had included Bad Boys For Life, still the top grossing movie of 2020 domestically and worldwide (it releases in China on August 14). Conversely, there were no new releases in North America in fiscal Q1. Overseas, Sony Pictures International Productions’ local-language Innocence did decent business in Korea as cinemas began to reopen while Little Women got a boost from Japan to push it across $100M at the international box office. In this same period last year, Men In Black: International was Sony’s biggest title.
Owing to COVID, the studio has not been able to release a portion of its already completed titles in theaters, moving a host of the slate into 2021. The studio’s next theatrical release is expected to be in October with Lord And Miller Connected, followed by Thanksgiving title Happiest Season and New Year’s sequel Escape Room 2.
On an earnings call from Tokyo, Sony Corp said it expects the release calendar to be very crowded in 2021, but that its position regarding the importance of theatrical releases is not expected to change going forward. As with last quarter, Sony did allow that based on factors like the nature of a film, scale and timing, the optimum method of distribution will be selected.
Although home entertainment sales were up to $319M versus $200M in the same quarter last year, Sony noted that due to delays in theatrical releases, home ent and TV licensing sales are expected to decrease. In Television Productions, revenues are beginning to be impacted by delays in the delivery of shows to TV networks and digital distribution services. However, filming has resumed in some countries and Sony said it believes it can recover relatively quickly because of high demand.
In games, Sony said The Last Of Us Part II and Ghost Of Tsushima have been trending well while PlayStation Plus subscribers reached 45M by the end of June.