TOKYO (Variety) - Sony Corp. president Nobuyuki Idei said Thursday the company is ready to make one or two blockbuster-scale movies a year, but will not pay "Titanic"-size amounts for productions because the electronics giant is keeping a close eye on its bottom line.
"We need only one or two big movies, but not all of them," Idei told reporters at a briefing in Tokyo addressing the company's performance, adding that Sony is not likely to jump on the bandwagon to make enormous-scale movies in an effort to emulate the success of "Titanic."
"For me, the cost does matter very much," Idei said in response to the inflationary spiral hitting Hollywood.
Idei's comments echoed those of Sony Pictures Entertainment president and chief operating officer John Calley, who announced Sony's desire for no more than one or two blockbusters several months ago in stories about "Godzilla," a film that will cost Sony more than $90 million.
In the past, Sony has attempted blockbusters with films including "Last Action Hero" and "Starship Troopers," both of which ended up breaking even, but not busting out at the box office.
With "Godzilla," filmmakers Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin brought the picture in under $100 million. It opens in May.
Sony also is depending on Devlin and Emmerich to come up with other blockbuster pictures through their multiyear deal with Sony Pictures Entertainment.
Idei said Sony Worldwide is likely to post a net operating profit of 500 billion yen ($3.84 billion) on sales of 66 trillion yen ($507.8 billion) for the fiscal year that ended on March 31.
He said the fall in the value of the yen is helping to push the net operating figure up by 35% from the figure tallied for the previous fiscal year.
He also offered praise for Sony Music Entertainment, currently riding high with the "Titanic" soundtrack, saying, "The music business is doing extremely well worldwide."
Most of Sony's success for the fiscal year lies in solid sales of its core audiovisual products, he said.
Idei ran off a checklist of products that have helped the electronics firm, such as its PlayStation videogame and camcorders. He said Sony is ready to roll out digital TV sets in the U.S. later this year and thinks the minidisc audio components, which are enormously popular in Japan, will finally catch on Stateside.
Despite the flow of black ink, Sony is undergoing a sweeping reform of its management structure and decision-making process in order to compete with agile and powerful companies such as Dell and Compaq computers, Idei said.
While Idei was giving his nuts-and-bolts assessment of Sony's performance and plans, Sony chairman Norio Ohga took a few swipes at the Japanese government for its inability to manage the nation's economic house.
Ohga likened Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto to President Herbert Hoover, who helped usher in the Great Depression in the U.S.
"I have a great concern about Japan becoming a trigger of a worldwide recession," Ohga said. "If the economic situation continues to decline, we will face a long spiral of deflation. This will no doubt have a damaging effect on the world economy."
Dow Jones Newswires -- April 6, 1998 Sony Expected To Raise Dividend In FY98 By Y10 To Y70
TOKYO (Nikkei)--Sony Corp. (J.SNY or 6758) will increase its dividend payment in the current fiscal year through March 1999 for the third consecutive year, The Nihon Keizai Shimbun reported in its Tuesday morning edition.
The company estimates consolidated net profit in the fiscal year ended March at a record Y220 billion, up 58% over the previous year, the newspaper said, citing company sources.
Moreover, the consumer electronics giant expects to break last year's record on the strength of the growing popularity of its digital electronic products, including MiniDiscs and TVs.
Sony will likely raise its annual dividend payment by Y10 for a total of Y70. The company celebrated its 50th anniversary in fiscal 1996 with a Y5 commemorative dividend.
The Y70 translates into a total dividend payment of about Y28.5 billion.