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
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Ramsay Bolton in Game of Thrones
tvSeries 5, Episode 3 review
News
peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
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

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Ashdown Group: Business Analyst - Financial Services - City, London

£50000 - £55000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Business Analyst - Financial Service...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: At SThree, we like to be differe...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Did you know? SThree is the o...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence