Thursday, 15 April 2010

AS Film Industry - Sony: the 'Hollywood' model

/Five major companies dominate the UK film industry: United International Pictures, Warner Brothers, Buena Vista, Twentieth Century Fox and Sony. Nine out of every ten films shown in the UK are viewed as a result of these distributors and in most cases are linked to the Hollywood production companies who make the films. They deal with exhibitors who are no longer owned by the same Hollywood companies but, to make a profit, prioritise Hollywood films over others. Blockbuster films are often distributed via blanket release, so even if a small independent UK company gets its product into cinemas, it’s facing stiff, well-marketed competition from films that often take on the status of an event. Half the films released in Britain do not get shown around the whole country.

Sony is a multinational conglomerate corporation headquartered in Minato, Tokyo, Japan, and one of the world's largest media conglomerates with revenue of $78.88 billion U.S.

The Sony Group is engaged in business through its five operating segments – electronics, games, entertainment (motion pictures and music), financial services and other. These make Sony one of the most comprehensive entertainment companies in the world. Sony's principal business operations include Sony Corporation (Sony Electronics in the U.S.), Sony Pictures Entertainment, Sony Computer Entertainment, Sony Music Entertainment, Sony Ericsson, and Sony Financial.

The company initially developed from a company building electronic broadcasting and recording equipment to a one that also built the ‘software’ to play or record onto – including, along with Phillips, the CD - thus, potentially, cutting out the middle man and maximising profits.

In 1989, Sony acquired Columbia Pictures Entertainment, the American Film and television company – it could now make films with Sony equipment that could be watched in homes and (in some cases, Sony-owned) cinemas on Sony hardware. Beyond that, it had acquired Columbia’s back catalogue to be released on video and DVD which, in an ideal world, could be played on Sony hardware.

Sony has since created numerous other film production and distribution units, such as Sony Pictures Classics for art-house fare, by forming Columbia TriStar Pictures after merging Columbia Pictures and TriStar Pictures in 1998, and expanded its growth on April 8, 2005, when a consortium led by Sony acquired the legendary Hollywood studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) in a deal worth nearly $5 billion. Again, in an ideal world, the back catalogue releases would be played on Sony equipment.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment manufactures and distributes the Sony film library on Blu-ray Disc, DVD, video cassette, and UMD forms to global markets.

The Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group has a library of more than 4,000 films (including 12 Academy Award for Best Picture winners), and as of 2004 this unit of Sony distributes about 22 films a year under its various studio brands in 67 countries. The group owns studio facilities in the United States, Hong Kong, Madrid, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Brazil and Japan. In addition to the company-owned brands, Columbia TriStar also has a contract to distribute films for independent Revolution Studios and select films by MGM and United Artists.

Profits from its major studio successes allow it to back smaller, independent films through its companies like Destination Films, a "niche" motion picture company purchased by Sony in 2001 and Stage 6 Films, a direct to video/DVD label created in 2007.

It had its own cinema chain in which to exhibit its products; it has Sony Pictures Home Entertainment: Manufactures and distributes the Sony film library on Blu-ray Disc (a Sony product) and DVD. It has its own (or co-owned) film distribtion companies around the world, so it doesn’t have to look for a distributor abroad

It also owns Sony Music Entertainment, formed by successive mergers of various other companies, including Columbia Records, Epic and RCA. In 2008 Sony agreed to acquire the German company Bertelsmann's 50% stake in Sony BMG. Sony completed its acquisition of Bertelsmann Music Group on October 1, 2008. The company Sony Music Entertainment Inc became a wholly owned subsidiary of the Sony Corporation of America.

Artists signed to Sony can be found on Sony produced soundtracks of Sony films, like Spider-Man (2002), for example. If you like Chad Kroeger, you may go out and buy music from his band Nickleback on Road Runner Records, which is owned by Sony, or perhaps you enjoyed Aerosmith on the Spider-Man soundtrack, in which case, you might prefer to buy CDs from their back catalogue, which is owned by Sony!

Another branch of the company, Sony Pictures Digital oversees the digital production and online entertainment assets of Sony Pictures Entertainment, consists of Sony Pictures Imageworks, Sony Pictures Animation, Sony Pictures Mobile, Sony Pictures Digital Networks and others. It is known as the digital website interactive creator for SPE. Sony Pictures Digital designed websites for Sony Pictures, Screen Gems Network, SoapCity, Sony Pictures Imageworks, GSN, among others for SPE. Again, rather than look for a third party to do the work, Sony has its own facilities for digital production and special effects and can promote its product on company created websites. In fact, it it also serves other companies who pay Sony to do what they can’t – Sony Pictures Imageworks provides special effects – at a profit – for non-Sony movies too.

Another branch of the company, Sony Computer Entertainment, specialises in the production of hardware and software for ‘video’ and pc games, which often promote Sony (or Sony-licensed) product, like Spider-Man.

In 2001 Sony joined with the Swedish company Ericsson to manufacture mobile phones. The stated reason for this venture is to combine Sony's consumer electronics expertise with Ericsson's technological leadership in the communications sector. They now produce phones on which Sony movies can be watched, Sony websites can be accessed, Sony music can be listened to and Sony games can be played.

A recent move has seen a Sony deal with the major cinema chain AMC to install its digital projectors in all of the company's screens by 2012.

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