Sony Pictures Entertainment recorded a $212M profit in the third quarter of Fiscal Year 2020, good for a 316% upward swing versus the similar period in 2019. The profit increase for the three months ended December 31, 2020 was due to lower theatrical marketing costs and higher TV licensing and home entertainment sales from prior year titles, Sony Corp said in announcing results from Tokyo today.
Sales in the Pictures division dropped 17% to $1.8B compared to Q3 last year given the absence of major theatrical releases as a result of the Covid-19 crisis and lower home entertainment and TV licensing sales from the current year titles.
The full-year forecast for Sony Pictures grew 50% to 74B yen ($704M), impacted by lower costs related to theatrical marketing and higher-than-expected home entertainment and TV business. However, sales are expected to be lower than the October outlook primarily due to delays in theatrical releases as cinemas remain closed in key markets.
There were no significant theatrical releases during the quarter, save for Screen Gems’ Monster Hunter which through December 31 had grossed $13M worldwide. By comparison, the last three months of 2019 notably included hit sequel Jumanji: The Next Level. Sony has recently made more shifts on its 2021 theatrical release calendar but still has such titles as Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway, Venom: Let There Be Carnage, Hotel Transylvania 4, Ghostbusters: Afterlife and the Untitled Spider-Man: Far From Home follow-up all currently dated this year.
Overall, Sony Corp’s profits rose by 20% on a local currency basis to 359.2B yen ($3.4B) and net profits attributable to shareholders were 372B yen ($3.54B), a 62% jump. The electronics and entertainment giant lifted its full-year outlook to 940B yen ($8.95B), an increase of 34% versus its earlier October estimates with sales of game software anticipated to be higher than previously expected.
Also impacting the forecast are anime business sales, which fall under the Music segment, and primarily reflect the contribution of Japan’s runaway smash Demon Slayer The Movie: Mugen Train. Sony’s Japan-based subsidiary Aniplex co-produced the film which has become the biggest title ever at the Japanese box office at over $355M and still has further global rollout ahead. The theme song by Sony artist Lisa has also become “a huge hit,” the company said.
Also notably, across Games and Network Services, the company said it sold 4.5M PlayStation 5 consoles in the quarter. The division recorded 50% increase in profits to 80.2B yen ($763M). Sony also noted it would look to capitalize on the growth in the global popularity of anime by exploring cross-sale opportunities with games.
Separately, the parent company confirmed it will change names from Sony Corporation to “Sony Group Corporation” effective on April 1, 2021. In connection with the change, the ticker symbol for American Depositary Shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange will change from SNE to SONY.