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Sony may shed about 300 jobs amid slumping DVD sales

Sony Pictures Entertainment, grappling with slumping DVD sales and a worsening economy, plans to cut about 300 jobs, or about 4% of its workforce, through layoffs and by eliminating open positions, according to a person familiar with the situation.

The cuts could come as early as next week, the person said. A Sony spokesman declined to comment.

Sony is the latest Hollywood studio to lay off employees, following cutbacks at Warner Bros., Universal Pictures and Paramount Pictures.

In recent months, in an effort to trim costs, Sony reduced travel and entertainment expenses, restricted overtime pay and filled open positions with temporary workers.

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The moves, however, haven’t been enough to offset concerns about the company’s performance in the current and upcoming quarters, said a person familiar with the matter.

Sony Pictures, a unit of Japanese electronics giant Sony Corp., saw revenue for the quarter that ended Dec. 31 slide 8% to $1.9 billion because of lower DVD and television program sales.

The studio also is under pressure from its parent company, whose core consumer electronics business is reeling from the bad economy. Sony Corp. recently slashed 8,000 positions out of its 180,500-member workforce

Although Sony’s box-office results last year were strong from such hits as “Hancock,” starring Will Smith, the James Bond sequel “Quantum of Solace” and the stoner comedy “Pineapple Express,” DVD sales of new releases nonetheless fell more than 15%, according to a person familiar with the matter, as the thriller “Vantage Point” and horror film “Prom Night” sold below expectations.

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Catalog sales also have declined despite a push for a new high-definition format.

Meanwhile, Sony’s track record at the box office this year has been mixed.

It had a solid hit with the low-cost comedy “Paul Blart: Mall Cop,” which has grossed $128.5 million in the U.S. But the sequel “The Pink Panther 2,” starring Steve Martin, and the thriller “The International” performed poorly.

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claudia.eller@latimes.com


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