“White House Down” and “After Earth.”
Remember them? One’s a movie about an attack on the Leader of the Free World. The other was a Will Smith vehicle that approximately 49 people saw. In addition to being strong contenders for Oscars this coming awards season (yeah, that was sarcastic), the two films helped lead Sony Pictures to a $181 million operating loss … in only the second quarter of this year.
And yet people who make only the minimum wage can’t support a household in this country. Forget throwing money at road improvements and cancer cures — the new Tom Cruise movie needs five trillion dollars for special effects and it needs it now!
Anyway, the failure of those two big-buget movies in particular (one may presume) led to Sony announcing Thursday its plans to shift emphasis from movies to television. As in, significantly. As in, whoa — did you see how much money “Breaking Bad” made them?! As in, “Goodbye ‘After Earth 2: Return Of The Karate Kid.'” Let’s go to Cynthia Littleton of Variety …
“The studio at present is up to 127 channels serving 150 countries, with a revenue growth rate of 24% during the past 10 years,” she wrote. “Some 37% of that revenue comes from India, where the long-established Sony Entertainment Television channel is a major player. Back home, the television production business — which was once such a drain on Sony Pictures profits that former boss Howard Stringer famously shuttered its primetime operation in 2001 — has rebounded strongly with the growth of digital licensing opportunities.”
The kicker? Part of that growth deals largely with the upcoming “Breaking Bad” spinoff “Better Call Saul,” which somewhat surprisingly has already made money, despite not airing a single episode. That’s what happens when people overreact to television shows and a bidding war between AMC, FX and Netflix breaks out: Bob Odenkirk gets paid and everyone else is left driving on roads with broken pavement.
What this might mean for Internet television is up for debate, of course, but it’s still worth contemplating. Why? Well, that would be Crackle, the company that provides free movies, television shows and the great Jerry Seinfeld vehicle (see what I did there?!) “Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee,” which, if you remember, was actually nominated for an Emmy last year.
Chronicled tirelessly on this here blog (thanks again archive system, but you’re getting better!), the show debuted in July 2012 and followed that first 10-episode run with a six-episode jaunt this past summer. Being in bed with Crackle means the show is in bed with Sony. And being in bed with Sony means …
How is all this news going to impact the best 15-minute show not on TV?
Hopefully, it means nothing but good things for the most interesting thing Seinfeld has ever done (yes, and that includes his 1990s mega-hit sitcom). A bigger budget? More guests? A stronger base? A longer list of episodes? Any of these things would be welcomed with open arms by the 35 people who religiously pay attention to it.
The only minor hiccup? In the midst of all this news, it was announced Monday that the company had hired notorious ax-men Bain & Co. to examine any unneeded expenditures Sony might be making. Could Mr. Romney’s friends be eyeing some tiny Web venture as unnecessary fat, ready to trim before the turkey gets placed on the Thanksgiving table? On behalf of, oh, say, every single person who has ever spent five seconds catching up with Jerry and his famous friends, I’d like to say this: I sure hope not.
It seems unlikely, of course, considering how they now want to throw all this money at their TV plans, but as is the case with many big business entertainment corporations, you never quite know how things might shake out before it’s all said and done. I mean, it’s like why the hell did “Ugly Betty” ever get canceled?
Either way, we at least still have this to settle us over until some great (or awful) announcements are made …