'Captain Phillips' helps sail Sony Pictures into third-quarter profit

Sony Pictures Entertainment reported a profit of $231 million in the fiscal third quarter ending Dec. 31, a significant improvement from the previous quarter, when it lost $181 million.

However, the film and television studio's profit was down 4.2% from the same period a year ago. Revenue was up 7.1% to $2.131 billion.

Sony Pictures, a unit of Tokyo-based Sony Corp., is in the midst of a major cost-cutting initiative. The studio has said it will slash at least $350 million in overhead, and has been laying off employees.

WATCH: Cast, crew of 'Captain Phillips' discuss the film

In January, the studio laid off an undisclosed number of people from its Sony Pictures Imageworks and Sony Pictures Technologies groups.

Sony said the studio's third quarter was helped by the performance of the films "Captain Phillips" and "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2," both of which have grossed more than $200 million worldwide.

But those pictures' box-office success couldn't match the hit James Bond movie "Skyfall," which was released in late 2012, went on to gross more than $1.1 billion and helped the studio post a stronger quarter a year ago. 

Sony Pictures, based in Culver City, also benefited in the third quarter from increased home entertainment and video-on-demand revenue generated by the television show "Breaking Bad."

Although Sony's film and television studio drew attention in Hollywood last year after releasing the high-profile flops "White House Down" and "After Earth" and drawing criticism from activist investor Daniel Loeb, the company's electronics business has long been imperiled.

On Wednesday, as part of its earnings release, Sony forecast a $1.1-billion annual loss and said it would cut 5,000 jobs. The company also said it will split its television unit into a separate entity and offload its personal computer business. 


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