Home Movies White House Down and Sony, Too? Movie’s Failure Could Fuel Major Spin...

UPDATE SUNDAY 12:10PM: “White House” down came in at 4th place for the weekend, taking in a meager $25million. That’s about a tenth of what it cost all-in.

EARLIER: It does look like “White House Down” will be the second blockbuster failure of Sony Pictures in less than a month. The studio is already dealing with Will Smith and M. Night Shyamalan’s “After Earth” after-birth. Now “WHD” aims for 3rd or 4th place this weekend in its debut.

Many things combined for its failure but mainly the story I told the other day about the earlier movie “Olympus Has Fallen” and how Sony, failing to buy that script, went after this similar one. Then, seeing the similarities, joked it up until it became as one Twitter follower declared “hillarible” (hilariously horrible). http://www.showbiz411.com/2013/06/25/white-house-down-will-it-suffer-second-movie-syndrome-to-olympus-has-fallen

But these developments aren’t good for Sony’s beloved Amy Pascal and Michael Lynton. They are faced with increasing demands from shareholder Daniel Loeb of Third Point LLC. Loeb– the third biggest shareholder in Sony–has been sending letters to the company demanding a spin off of Sony Entertainment from the rest of the company. (Loeb is also a minority investor in Penske Media, which own industry trade magazine Variety.)

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“White House Down” won’t be the last straw, but if it’s a massive failure–and things don’t look good– Loeb will use that. Third Point is a $13 billion hedge fund owned by Loeb. In May, Loeb launched a campaign to break Sony up. http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2013/may/14/sony-breakup-hedge-fund-daniel-loeb

In his latest letter he wrote: “While the Entertainment businesses are top performers within Sony, profit margins fall short when benchmarked versus their US-listed competitors despite superior scale and leading market positions. We believe the underperformance would be remedied by a more disciplined management approach to Sony Entertainment.”

All of this comes as Sir Howard Stringer, who supported and protected Pascal and Lynton, retires. He’s succeeded by Sony’s new CEO Hazou Kirai. At long last, the Japanese, who own Sony, are going to run it from New York.

Of course, Sony’s financial woes aren’t really tied to Sony Pictures. The film division had a monster hit with “Skyfall” last year and they have “Spider Man,” who will always save the day. “Zero Dark Thirty” was impressive, and Sony Pictures Classics, their jewel, has lots of Oscars and even a new Woody Allen film that will make for a sweet summer.

Sony’s biggest problems are in electronics. They were never able to turn the Walkman from tape to digital, so iPods rule the world. And while Sony makes a good laptop (the VAIO, which I bought this spring and love), MacAir is the dominator. The company banked on 3D TV, which failed. And the Sony Bravia TVs have been up-ended by Samsung, Sharp, and Panasonic.

Pascal and Lynton have one more shot this summer: “Elysium” starring Matt Damon, and directed by 32 year old wunderkind Neill Blomkamp of “District Nine” fame. This is the big one, and much anticipated. Everyone has high hopes for its release on August 9th. Blomkamp is young and a recent Oscar nominee. He has none of the bloat or hubris yet that comes with Smith, Shyamalan, and Emmerich. And “Elysium” may save Sony Pictures this summer.




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Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.
18 replies to this post
  1. Hollywood thinks American’s are so dumb that they will eat up any ridiculous garbage they throw out there. Their Liberal black loving agenda just doesn’t hold up to scrutiny these days.

  2. Someone here obviously doesn’t like what I have to say, but perhaps a more appropriate title would be “Hollywood Down”

  3. First of all, I will never watch anything that has Jamie Foxx. He needs to drop dead ASAP. Second, Hollywood people must be doing some heavy drugs to ever produce and film such an obvious piece of crap.

    I think the regular folks in the heartland see no entertainment value in the out-of-touch garbage that comes from Hollywood. All people are not as dumb as Hollywood thinks.

    Lastly, why are there 2 movies out that show the White House being attacked? Do they hate this country that much? Anytime I ever hear a liberal bad-mouth this country, I say very loudly, “Then get the fuck out and don’t come back!”

  4. I think that since you censored my comment that you are not honest or trustworthy.

    Apparently you are just whores for Hollyweird.

    My household spends thousands of dollars a year on movies.

    Less and less of which involves Hollyweird.

    Film is WORLD WIDE.

    “It doesn’t take a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.”

    So to you, and Zack Snyder, and Hollyweird et. al., FUCK YOU.

  5. Hollywood is a artistic and creative black hole- no ideas, no story’s, bolshivek leftist left over- baloney served up over and over again. They will soon be financially bankrupt as well.

    Watch some films from the 60 and 70’s get a cllue on how to act and direct-read some history millions of great American stories that could be told.

    Probably never will be though as they don’t fit the neo- commie propaganda play book.

  6. Well, it could also be because “Olympus Has Fallen” came out only a couple months ago with a very similar plot and people already saw that in droves. Sort of like the year when “Armageddon” and “Deep Impact” came out together. It may not be that “White House Down” is a totally bad movie, I haven’t seen it myself, but the market for two very similar movies in theaters so close together may not be there. (I did see “Olympus Has Fallen” earlier this year. It was a good movie, but I haven’t felt the need to see another one with a similar plot just yet.)

  7. Maybe if Sony stops making pictures so far politically Left that they are indistinguishable from Propaganda, people would start going to see them again. White House Down insults half of America to begin with, Elysium looks like another “Rich vs. Poor” movie and After Earth ? Nothing but a 2 hour commercial for Scientology and Will Smith’s son who seriously lacks talent.
    Sorry- I prefer movies with an intersting plot that don’t insult my beliefs.

  8. Unfortunately, Elysium won’t be a savior — it will be another nail in the coffin. Matt Damon as a cyborg with a liberal wet dream mission of bringing universal health care to the galaxy. On top of that, Bravia TVs have now become a joke, two generations now lock up while trying to negotiate the HDMI protocol and aren’t even compatible with other Sony components as they were designed. Sony has fallen very hard indeed, and there is no end in sight.

  9. Hollywood is so out of touch. They make a movie depicting a black president as an action hero saving the White House for peace? Don’t they know what Obama’s approval rating is and aren’t they paying attention to all the scandals he’s embroiled in? He’s a tyrannical, rights-abusing, constitution-destroying warmonger. Movie goers want something cathartic. They want what no else will give them. Justice against our dictator King Obama. It should have been “White House Taken Back”. This movie is completely out of touch with what audiences are feeling, that’s why it failed. Summer action movies should be a cathartic release, instead we get some delusional liberal lovin’ BS.

  10. Jammie Fox is a white hating racist pig, and a Obama worshiper. He is a complete moron, and anyone who has money to spend on a movie, that has an common sense and pays attention to whats going on in this country, won’t spend their money on this movie.

  11. Incredibly poor movie concept for the times. Wildly unpopular president seemingly working at destroying the country, failed economy that is getting worse… I can’t imagine any seasoned executive would have pulled the trigger on such an expensive boondoggle unless he was under extraordinary external pressures. See ya, SONY.

  12. Jamie Foxx running his mouth about various political issues, particularly his hypocrisy on gun control, managed to alienate many of the people who would go to see a movie like this one, and who already found its thinly veiled propagandist agenda distasteful. Hollywood and the media are too myopic to see that their sentiments do not align with those of most Americans.

  13. Saw WWZ last night which previewed Elysium and it looks like a bunch of
    Alinsky “haves vs. have nots” drival.

    Looked like it could’ve possibly been penned by the divider in chief himself.

    But what would you expect from a Matt Damon (another loser) movie?

    Looks like it’ll be “three strikes and you’re out” for Sony.

    At least WWZ didn’t blame the Zombies on Global Warming which I half expected
    when I bought my ticket.

  14. i hopes that’s what they said abut after earth and wh down. i have not seem wh doen. but i did olympus down and i would say better than this. beside butler looks like a ss agent white tatum looks magic mike. lol

  15. I detect a pattern here. Action movies with strong black leads, including the POTUS, are not taking off at the box office. Why?

    Maybe the reality just makes it too hard to believe in the fantasy.

  16. Skyfall? That movie was terrible. All the US movies come out seem to be garbage. On Netflix I watch only the foriegn movies.. they are really quite excellent.

  17. Sony is getting what it deserves. They routinely thumb their nose at online critics, cutting off a valuable avenue with which to create greater media presence, and then they wonder why no one’s interested in their movies? Plus, you cast a major ‘hate America first’ actor in a picture that appears to be flag-waving, and we’re supposed to take that seriously?

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