×

Sony Launches Its Own Theatrical Distributors in Southeast Asia (EXCLUSIVE)

Sony Pictures Entertainment has terminated a longstanding theatrical-releasing joint venture with Disney in Southeast Asia, moving instead to launch distributors of its own in four countries.

Sony is launching new Sony Pictures Releasing units in Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia. Those join a unit in the Philippines carved out earlier, in February, from the joint venture with Disney.

Announced by Brett Hogg, senior VP of international distribution at SPE, the moves see some personnel transferring from the joint venture and others in new positions. In Singapore, Robert Crockett will continue as managing director, overseeing Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. In Malaysia, Simon Foo becomes the AGM/Country Manager for Malaysia and will continue reporting to Crockett. Foo will take the day-to-day lead of operations in Malaysia in addition to his distribution and sales responsibilities.

In Thailand, “James” Rachot “James” Dhiraputra returns to the company to become Thailand managing director, along with Dujdao Promobol, Thailand executive director of marketing. The pair last week held a Buddhist merit ceremony to give SPR Thailand its official launch, and to present the studio’s forward slate to exhibitors.

Thai media quoted Dhiraputra as saying he is targeting $24 million (THB800 million) of gross revenues from the 19 movies. It was unclear if the $8 million (THB265) from “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” the first major SPE title released under the new banner, is part of that figure. “Homecoming” is expected to be the highest grossing SPE title in Thailand.

Popular on Variety

Sony’s joint venture with Disney was originally established in 1997 as a way of minimizing infrastructure costs in the then-small Southeast Asian market. It also helped to maximize the studios’ marketing and negotiating firepower in a region with oligopolistic – and often vertically integrated – exhibition groups.

SPE’s go-it-alone strategy reflects an optimism that the individual markets within the region will continue to grow, despite patchy economic growth in Thailand, continuing high levels of piracy in Malaysia and Singapore, and competition from online streaming services.

Expansion by exhibitors into outlying provinces in Thailand and Malaysia could mean that the theatrical business grows at a pace faster than the countries’ overall economies. That in turn would allow SPE to increase the number of titles per year that it releases theatrically. Dhiraputra said that SPE aims to release 20 films per year in Thailand, where last year’s overall box office hit $140 million (THB4.6 billion).

More Film

  • 'Charlatan' Review: Agnieszka Holland Shows Faith

    'Charlatan': Film Review

    At several points in “Charlatan,” the camera looks glossily on as our protagonist holds small bottles of amber liquid to the light, academically scrutinizing their contents as they beam a light golden glow onto his features: an effect both ennobling and almost romantic. The man is Jan Mikolášek, a famous Czech herbalist and healer with [...]

  • Toho Cinemas at Tokyo Midtown Hibiya

    Japanese Cinemas To Refund Tickets in Virus Response

    In response to the coronavirus crisis, the Japanese film industry has begun to delay releases, close theaters and refund ticket purchases. The releases of the new “Doraemon” and “Jimaro” feature animations targeted at kids out of school for the spring break, have been delayed. The former was scheduled to open March 6, the latter on [...]

  • Blood on Her Name

    Film Review: ‘Blood on Her Name’

    In the opening moments of “Blood on Her Name,” an arrestingly twisty and suspenseful Southern noir thriller in the tradition of “One False Move,” we’re introduced to Leigh, the working-class protagonist played by Bethany Anne Lind, with a jarring close-up that is at once explicit and ambiguous. Her face is battered, her breathing is labored, [...]

  • Liev Schreiber Broadway

    Film News Roundup: Liev Schreiber Joins Will Smith's Tennis Drama 'King Richard'

    In today’s film news roundup, Liev Schreiber and retired pro footballer Vernon Davis score roles, Jason Blum will speak at his alma mater, Irish drama “Rialto” finds a U.S. distributor and “1917” hits a box office milestone. CASTINGS Liev Schreiber will portray tennis coach Paul Cohen in Warner Bros.’ “King Richard” opposite Will Smith. Reinaldo [...]

  • AMC theater

    AMC Entertainment Reports Mixed Fourth-Quarter Results

    AMC Entertainment has reported mixed fourth-quarter results, which saw revenues rise 2.4% to $1.45 billion, despite a 4.4% drop in U.S. attendance to 62.3 million. The exhibitor, owned by Dalian Wanda Group, announced a fourth-quarter loss of $13.5 million, compared to a year-earlier profit of $170.6 million, due to $84.3 million of expense related to [...]

  • 'Straight Up' Review: James Sweeney's Gay

    'Straight Up': Film Review

    There’s a tradition in movies, as vital as a hypnotic action scene or a swooning love scene, of dialogue so witty and nimble and rapid-fire that it comes at you like something out of a stylized dream. I first encountered that brand of high-velocity verbal jousting in “A Hard Day’s Night,” and later on in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content