Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. (SPE) is the American television and film production and distribution unit of Japanese multinational technology and media conglomerate Sony. It is based in Culver City, California and serves as Sony's main global film production and distribution company. Its group sales in the fiscal year 2011 ended March 31, 2012 has been reported to be of $8.021 billion.
Throughout the years, SPE has produced, distributed, or co-distributed successful franchises such as Spider-Man, Men in Black, Underworld, and Resident Evil.
Sony Pictures produced White House Down but lost money when it flopped at the box office.
Sony Pictures Entertainment is a member of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).
On September 1, 1987, The Coca-Cola Company announced plans to spin-off its assets of Columbia Pictures, which they had owned since 1982. Under this arrangement, Coca-Cola would sell their entertainment assets to Tri-Star Pictures, of which they owned 39.6%. Tri-Star would be renamed to Columbia Pictures Entertainment, Inc. (CPE), with Coca-Cola owning 49%, its shareholders owning 31%, and Tri-Star's shareholders owning 20%. A new company was formed in early 1988 with the Tri-Star name to take over the studio's production operations.
On September 28, 1989, Sony Corporation obtained an option to purchase all of The Coca-Cola Company's stock in CPE for $27 per share. The next day, Sony also announced that it reached an agreement with Guber-Peters Entertainment Company, Inc. (NASDAQ: GPEC; formerly Barris Industries, Inc.) to acquire the company for $200 million when Sony hired Peter Guber and Jon Peters to head CPE. It was all led by Norio Ohga, who was the president and CEO of Sony during that time.
Guber and Peters' hiring by Sony to run Columbia was conflicted by a previous contract the producers signed at Warner Bros. Time Warner's chairman, Steve Ross, threatened Sony with a lawsuit for breach of contract. The lawsuit would be subsequently dropped when Sony sold half-interest in Columbia House and cable distribution rights to Columbia's feature films, TV movies, and miniseries to Warners. Said agreement also saw Columbia sell its 35% interest in the Burbank Studios, and acquired Lorimar Studios, previously the MGM lot, from Warner Bros.
On October 31, 1989, Sony completed a friendly takeover bid for the rest of shares (51%) of CPE, which was a public company listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: KPE), and acquired 99.3% of the common stocks of the company. On November 8, 1989, Sony completed the acquisition by a "short-form" merger of its wholly owned subsidiary Sony Columbia Acquisition Corporation into CPE under Delaware law. Sony also completed a tender offer for shares of common stock of the GPEC on November 6, 1989 and acquired the company on November 9, 1989. The acquisition cost Sony $4.9 billion ($3.55 billion for shares and $1.4 billion of long-term debt) and was backed (financed) by 5 major Japanese banks Mitsui, Tokyo, Fuji, Mitsubishi and Industrial Bank of Japan. The company was renamed Sony Pictures Entertainment on August 7, 1991.
Sony has since created numerous other film production and distribution units, such as creating Sony Pictures Classics for art-house fare, by forming Columbia TriStar Pictures (also known as the Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group) by merging Columbia Pictures and TriStar Pictures in 1998, revitalizing Columbia's former television division Screen Gems. It expanded its operations on April 8, 2005, when a Sony-led consortium acquired the legendary Hollywood studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, in a US$4.8 billion leveraged buyout, through the holding company MGM Holdings Inc.
On June 4, 2008, SPE's wholly owned group 2JS Productions B.V. acquired Dutch production company 2waytraffic N.V., famous for Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? and You Are What You Eat for £114.3 million ($223.2 million in US dollars).
On November 18, 2012, Sony Pictures announced it has passed $4 billion with the success of releases: Skyfall, The Amazing Spider-Man, 21 Jump Street, Men in Black 3, Hotel Transylvania, Underworld: Awakening, The Vow, and Resident Evil: Retribution.
On November 21, 2013, SPE and Sony Entertainment's CEO Michael Lynton announced that SPE will shift emphasis from movies to television by cutting its 2014 film slate. It was also announced on the same day, that there will be more Spider-Man sequels and spin-offs.
On January 22, 2014, SPE folded its technology unit into its various cores of its businesses.