Sony Corp.*

Tokyo

Revenue: $9.6 billion

Operating income: $387 million

For Sony, 2002 will be known as the year of “Spider-Man.” The comicbook-based bonanza helped push Sony to $1.29 billion domestic B.O. Aug. 19 — breaking the studio’s annual record of $1.27 billion domestic gross.

Spidey jolted Sony Pictures’ profile in the first quarter ended June 30 as part of a blockbuster summer slate including “Men in Black II.” Studio operating income of $235 million made up more than 20% of the total for its parent company.

SPE’s outlook is upbeat, with planned releases such as “Bad Boys 2” and “Charlie’s Angels 2” along with several star-studded vehicles from production partner Joe Roth’s Revolution Studios.

In recent months, SPE scaled back its TV production operations and sold its stake in Spanish-lingo broadcaster Telemundo to NBC. SPE, in partnership with Germany’s Commerzbank, is also on a short list of bidders for Germany’s beleaguered Kirch Media.

Meanwhile, Sony Music, much like the rest of the tune biz, is mired in a global slump attributed to digital piracy; weak economies; and the completion of the sector’s shift to CD. Sony Music has restructured, and cut costs and jobs. However, the unit is getting a chart-topping boost this summer from “The Rising,” Bruce Springsteen’s first album of new material since 1995.

Sony Corp. of America topper Howard Stringer continues to evangelize on the convergence of hardware and software. Execs say they’re not shopping for a big acquisition or merger partner.

But speculation won’t die regarding the possibility of an initial public offering of the entertainment arm — one that might allow the Japanese company to buy a U.S. television network such as NBC.

*Sony Pictures Entertainment and Sony Music

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