Sony Motion Pictures Trim Film Slate, Less Summer Releases

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Sony Motion Pictures is planning to trim its film slate by reducing its number of summer movie releases in 2014 from nine to four.

Amy Pascal, co-chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment and chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment Motion Picture Group attributed the decision to slash movies to an increasingly crowded summer and made the announcement on Thursday, November 21, 2013 during the Sony Entertainment Investor Day in Los Angeles.

Pascal also spoke of a refined green lighting process that will lead to about eighteen movies a year, whereas Sony has typically released about twenty off films annually.

At the event, Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton promised a significant shift from motion pictures to higher margin television production and networks and he told investors that he is looking at reducing about $250 million in costs over the next two years.

Sony is now also looking at keeping the shooting days to a minimum and get the most out of tax incentives. They are also looking at the possibility of cutting about $100 million in annual costs with the help of consulting firm Bain & Co.

Sony Motion Pictures has strong talent relationships with the likes of Will Smith, Adam Sandler, Jonah Hill, Emma Stone, Justin Timberlake, Katherine Bigelow and others, and would expect such names to meet Sony’s standards for profitability.

During the presentation, executives seemed to be addressing specific cost-control concerns famously raised recently by Daniel Loeb, an activist shareholder who owns a seven percent stake in Sony.

Sony Pictures Entertainment CFO David Hendler, further stressed financial discipline at the film studio. He promised more aggressive profit thresholds and a methodical examination of every line item. Hendler also said the studio would penalize talent for budget overruns and he promised further reductions in theatrical marketing, including media, print and outdoor.