More disasters on the big screen for Sony

Sony was contemplating the wreckage yesterday from a turbulent few days at its film division which saw the ousting of Mark Canton as chairman of its Columbia TriStar pictures business, and a thoroughly public and embarrassing rejection of an offer to take the newly vacant job from Arnold Rifkin, a top Los Angeles talent agent.

Mr Canton's responsibilities have been handed over in the meantime to Lucy Fisher, a 46-year-old Sony executive who joined Columbia TriStar as a vice chairman only six months ago. Concerned for the welfare of her three daughters, Ms Fisher has made it plain that she does not want to take on Mr Canton's old title or the full weight of his former job, however.

The dramas are only the latest chapter in Sony's thoroughly troubled interlude in Hollywood, which began with the late-1989 purchase of Columbia Studios for almost $5bn (pounds 3.2bn). In 1994, after a particularly bad year at the box office, Sony was forced to write off $2.7bn from its investment. In its search for profits and stability, Sony has also suffered an unusually high turnover of senior executives.

The demise of Mr Canton is firing renewed speculation that the president of the Sony group, Idei Nobuyuki, may eventually be forced into at least a partial retreat from Hollywood, either by making a public offering, seeking a partner or selling his studios outright to a competitor.

Mr Canton, who is yet to negotiate the terms of his departure, apparently came unstuck because of a series of disappointments in Sony's 1996 film line-up. Most painful for the studio was the relatively poor performance of the film Cable Guy, conceived as a vehicle for the comedian Jim Carrey. There was collective shock in Hollywood when Sony agreed to pay Mr Carrey $20m for that single film.

Other flops this year have included The Fan and Multiplicity. The studio is none the less believed to have a fairly promising line-up for the coming months and can boast the two top films in the US box office charts this last weekend: Maximum Risk and Fly Away Home.

The offer of Mr Canton's job to Mr Rifkin was made by Alan Levine, the president of Sony Pictures. In a humiliating rebuttal, however, Mr Rifkin, who is the top talent agent at the William Morris Agency, turned it down in favour of a new, and presumably newly lucrative, salary at the agency.

Some observers believe that the Mr Levine may also find his job loosened by the unhappy episode, even though he has enjoyed the consistent support of Mr Nobuyuki in the past. The word is also out among analysts that Jeff Sagansky, the executive vice president of Sony Corp of America, based in New York, may also be negotiating to jump ship.

Last December saw the sudden departure of Michael Schulhof, president of the group's US operations. He was also seen as the victim of a series of studio flops, the most notable of them, The Last Action Hero.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'
film
News
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
science
News
Dawkins: 'There’s a very interesting reason why a prince could not turn into a frog – it's statistically too improbable'
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Sport
Malky Mackay salutes the Cardiff fans after the 3-1 defeat at Liverpool on Sunday
footballFormer Cardiff boss accused of sending homophobic, racist and messages
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Amis: Taken to task over rash decisions and ill-judged statements
booksThe Zone of Interest just doesn't work, says James Runcie
Life and Style
life – it's not, says Rachel McKinnon
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Corporate Tax Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - HIGHEST QUALITY INTERNATIONAL ...

Relationship Manager

£500 - £600 per day: Orgtel: Relationship Manager, London, Banking, Accountant...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

Test Lead (C#, Java, HTML, SQL) Kingston Finance

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A Global Financial Service Organi...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home