Overview: With “Spider-Man 2” spinning a web of success, Sony finished first at the box office in 2004, hauling in $1.3 billion. Much of the credit goes to the partnership of Sony Pictures Entertainment picture head Amy Pascal, new Sony chairman Michael Lynton and production co-presidents Matt Tolmach and Doug Belgrad. “Our success is really a tribute to the diversity of our product,” says Sony vice-chairman Jeff Blake. “We had a lot of different pictures that performed at a good, profitable level.” Sony’s Revolution deal also added a string of low-risk, high-concept midrange hits. Beyond the B.O., Sony led a consortium that acquired MGM for nearly $5 billion in a surprising, late-year move. Deal is expected to be completed in the summer.
Winners and losers: Spidey’s success, totaling almost $800 million in worldwide box office, was followed by a solid showing from pics such as “50 First Dates,” and Revolution’s “White Chicks” and “Hellboy.” Low-budget horror pic “The Grudge” provided an unexpected thrill, grossing $109 million so far in the U.S. Only real misfire was Revolution’s “Little Black Book.”
Award prospects: Year-end releases “Closer” (directed by Mike Nichols) and “Spanglish” (helmed by James L. Brooks) offer a handful of possibilities, most likely in the acting, directing and screenplay categories. “Spider-Man 2” could be in line for special effects kudos.
The year ahead: Sony has lined up a slate of tentpoles, including the “Mask of Zorro” sequel, Revolution’s action franchise bid “XXX: State of the Union,” the Rob Cohen-directed “Stealth” and the holiday pic “Zathura.” Questions for 2005 center on the end of Sony’s deal with Revolution and the impact of its MGM acquisition.