The most surprising aspect of the massive deal between Disney and Fox at the end of last year wasn’t the fact that a major studio was being acquired by another. It was which studio was being acquired. Sony Pictures Entertainment was thought to be far more vulnerable and, according to their chairman, Tony Vinciquerra, they still are.
We have been on the path toward consolidation amongst the major studios for years now. 21st Century Fox decided to get out of the studio game before they actually had to, allowing them to get the best possible price for their movie studio. Sony is not in a position of strength to negotiate, so they are digging in, as Vinciquerra said at the NATPE conference in Miami yesterday (via Variety).
“If we don’t grow, we will be somebody’s purchase. I didn’t take the job to do it for a year and sell the company.”
Vinciquerra hasn’t been hiding the reality of Sony’s situation from his executive team and employees. Everyone needs to understand what must be done to stay relevant in a rapidly evolving entertainment landscape with new competitors that weren’t even in the business a decade ago.
“[There was pressure to] create a sense of urgency and making sure people are aware the business is changing rapidly. If we’re not on our toes, we’re not going to be in business very long.
“We’re a tiny little minnow fighting against all these gigantic companies. If they want to step on us, they could do it.”
Sony Pictures Entertainment has struggled in recent years, losing hundreds of millions of dollars annually. Spider-Man: Homecoming and Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle might have saved them in 2017, but the last few years have been filled with speculation that Sony proper might sell the movie studio if the right offer came along. That could still happen, especially with deep-pocketed giants like Facebook and Apple now involved in producing original content and potentially looking to buy existing studios.
The sense of urgency Vinciquerra talked about might be one of the driving forces behind Sony’s current attempt to maximize the number of franchises they can get out of their Spider-Man license. They need Venom and Silver and Black to be big enough hits to generate sequels and additional Spidey spinoffs.
I can’t help but wonder if Sony Pictures’ fight to stay alive is a key motivating factor behind Tom Holland’s appearance in Venom, if that rumor is true (and I’m not at all sure that it is).