Industry experts are speculating Sony‘s film and television assets, including Spider-Man, could be headed for sale following news that Kaz Hirai will step down from his position of Chief Executive, where he’ll be replaced by Chief Financial Officer Kenichiro Yoshida.
Studio insiders have reported no evidence of a shifting corporate strategy under Hirai’s No. 2, according to Deadline, who report Sony will continue to “look for opportunities to grow its film and television business, whether through acquisition or merger.”
“There’s been no discussion of a sale,” the site adds.
Yoshida is described as a numbers guy with a cautious outlook, and once said he sees the company as a technology company that should keep consumer electronics at its forefront.
The company is best known for producing the PlayStation gaming system and a wide variety of electronics, including televisions, Blu-ray players, and cameras.
Sony is currently engaged in an unprecedented deal with Disney-owned Marvel Studios, who produced Spider-Man: Homecoming, last summer’s blockbuster hit that pulled in $880 million worldwide.
The deal sees Marvel Studios producing the Spider-Man movies, which are paid for and distributed by Sony Pictures, and allows Spider-Man (Tom Holland) to exist and participate in Marvel Studios’ shared Marvel Cinematic Universe, home to blockbuster franchises like The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy.
Disney was able to include Spider-Man in Avengers: Infinity War, out in May, under the deal without Sony’s involvement.
Sony retains the rights to the Spider-Man character, effectively loaning him out to Marvel Studios, whose track record has produced nearly 20 #1 blockbuster hits since the studio launched with 2008’s Iron Man.
The Japanese corporation will launch their own spin on a cinematic universe — officially dubbed the “Sony Marvel Universe” — this October with Venom, starring Tom Hardy as the long-time Spider-Man villain.
Jumanji comes after a string of Sony failures: neither The Emoji Movie nor The Dark Tower caught on with audiences late last summer.
Sony’s infamous Ghostbusters reboot similarly failed to excite moviegoers in the blockbuster season back in 2016, proving a flop with just $229 million worldwide despite its iconic IP, which would likely prove usable by a competing studio.
Aside from Spider-Man and Ghostbusters — and now Jumanji — Sony is also home to the Men in Black films as well as franchises Underworld, Resident Evil, Smurfs, Hotel Transylvania, and Goosebumps.
Disney, who recently agreed to purchase 21st Century Fox’s film and television assets in a landmark $52.4 billion dollar deal, would be the favorite to absorb Sony, should they sell; but the Disney company is already facing opposition over the Fox merger that could take between 12 and 18 months.
If Sony were to ease out of the film and television business, they could even sell off their properties à la carte — allowing Disney-owned Marvel Studios to take complete control over the Spider-Man live-action rights.