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Sony Chief Kaz Hirai Says Film Studio Isn’t for Sale

Variety logo Variety 5/15/2017 Brent Lang
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Sony Corporation CEO and President Kazuo “Kaz” Hirai is sick of speculation that his film and television studio is on the block.

At a town hall meeting on Monday introducing Tony Vinciquerraas the new head of Sony’s television and film division, Hirai reiterated that the studio was not soliciting bids, according to two attendees. In the past, analysts have wondered why Sony, which is predominantly a technology company, is investing so heavily in content. That speculation has grown as Sony’s entertainment arm has suffered a stream of film flops.

“I will seriously put a sign on the water tower that says ‘not for sale,'” said Hirai. “Don’t dare me.”

It was an applause line that got a warm reception from a rank-and-file that have been hit hard in recent years. Sony’s film unit has struggled to find box office successes, scoring with the likes of “Don’t Breathe” and “Sausage Party,” but whiffing badly on a “Ghostbusters” reboot. It currently ranks seventh in terms of market share among the major studios (essentially putting it in last place). It will try to regain its stride this summer with “Spider-Man: Homecoming” and the action-comedy “Baby Driver.”Vinciquerra is a veteran media executive who was brought on board because of his interest in big data. He headed Fox Networks Group for a decade before stepping down in early 2011, becoming a consultant to numerous entertainment firms and private equity group TPG. Referencing that stint in the world of high finance, Vinciquerra quipped that he was tired of mergers and acquisitions, and was not interested in working on a sale.

Vinciquerra said he was interested in strengthening the ties between the film unit and Sony’s technology operations, and signaled he knew change was needed. He said his approach to business is “be quick, but don’t hurry”

Vinciquerra replaces Michael Lynton, who headed the entertainment division for 13 years. Unlike Lynton, Vinciquerra will not be oversee Sony’s music operations.

After the remarks, Sony employees, Hirai, and Vinciquerra attended a barbecue on the lot.

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