Sixteen months ago, Sony Entertainment had pretty much the worst Thanksgiving ever. If you remember there was a cyber attack which may or may not have been the fault of North Korea who was retaliating for the Seth Rogen movie “The Interview”. Emails were released, egos were bruised, feelings were hurt, people ate their feelings. That last part is of course speculation but it was around Thanksgiving, so what a better time to eat your feelings then on a day dedicated to food?
For a complete rundown and timeline of events, check out Deadline’s detailed article from December 22, 2014:
It was a big deal. The fallout was tremendous. Since Deadline’s article, Amy Pascal has since stepped down. Amy Pascal had been a Co-Chairperson at Sony and was one of the victims of the email hack. In February 2015, she talked to the Hollywood Reporter about the situation. It was reported as a mutual parting, or as Gwyneth Paltrow would say, “a conscious uncoupling”, although from that article it seemed more like an unconscious uncoupling or rather she was fired. She has bounced back, though, she is producing the upcoming Ghostbusters movie and judging by her IMDB page, she will be producing three more pictures including Spiderman and a live action version of Barbie which sounds awesome.
While Amy Pascal seems to be doing just fine, Sony, on the other hand, seems to be struggling in her absence. They seem to be having trouble recovering from that Thanksgiving Cyber Attack. In an article published today by Sharon Waxman and Matt Donnelly of The Wrap this seems to be due to a “lack of clear direction and financial pressure at Sony’s motion picture and music divisions.”
Interesting that the music division was mentioned because while the hacking story has long faded from the headlines, a new Sony headline has taken control in the form of Dr. Luke and Tik Tok singer, Kesha. Dr. Luke, whose real name is Lukasz Sebastian Gottwald, is a music producer whose record company, Kemosabe Records, is owned by Sony Music in which Kesha had been one of the artists on. In 2009, Kesha signed a deal with RCA (also part of Sony) through Dr. Luke. In 2014, Kesha sued Dr. Luke for alleged crimes ranging from sexual assault and battery, sexual harassment, gender violence and emotional abuse. In February, she was denied the right to terminate her contract with Sony Music which has caused a social media firestorm with artists from Kelly Clarkson to Demi Lovato to Taylor Swift to Lady Gaga all coming out in support of Kesha.
So from an outsiders perspective, it does not seem like Sony Entertainment is the most fun place to work. The Wrap article mentions that it’s suffering from a “leadership vacuum” which I’m assuming means the car is going and no one is in control of it.
In The Wrap article, there is talk that the current CEO, Michael Lynton, has been missing in action which has led to this loss of control, vacuum feeling. In addition to stories of Michael Lynton’s absence, Nicole Seligman who had been the president of both Sony Entertainment and Sony Corp. of America resigned in February. Deadline states that Nicole Seligman had been responsible for helping Sony through their hacking scandal and her absence has been felt as well. Of course, when The Wrap spoke with spokesman Robert Lawson at Sony regarding the lack of leadership, all of it was denied and all claims were written off as being ridiculous. Everything is apparently fine and dandy and anyone who says otherwise is wrong. I’m paraphrasing and also assuming stuff.
Click the link below to get a better sense of what’s going on:
Now, everything might be all fine and dandy but let’s look at what Sony Pictures has slated for release in March:
- The Brothers Grimsby 3/11/16
- Miracles from Heaven 3/16/16
- The Bronze 3/18/16
- I Saw the Light 3/25/16
Judging from the reviews on Rotten Tomatoes for three of the four movies listed (there were no reviews listed for Miracles from Heaven) but judging just those three, Sony is going to have a rough March with The Brothers Grimsby, The Bronze and I Saw the Light receiving mainly negative or rotten reviews and if those negative reviews translate to bad box office numbers which usually translates to financial worries for any studio then maybe April will be better?
Some good news though and maybe this is a sign, breaking as of today, Sony Music will be ending their contract with Dr. Luke a year ahead of the end of his contract. For more details, please read The Wrap’s story below from Matt Donnelly:
From my own perspective, this sounds awesome. Maybe this breaking story will help move Sony into a new, healthier direction? If there is a “leadership vacuum”, maybe now someone will take control?