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Sony Pictures third studio to grow revenue, operating income last quarter

February 4, 2010 | 12:58 pm

Despite layoffs and shrinking development spending, Hollywood's bottom line looks to be growing again.

Sony Pictures on Thursday became the third major movie and television studio to report increased revenue and operating income for the quarter ended Dec. 31, along with 20th Century Fox and Warner Bros.

Revenue for SPE grew 25% to $2.2 billion, driven in part by box-office revenue from the disaster picture "2012" and the Michael Jackson documentary "This is It," as well as what the studio said was "significant sales" of DVDs for "Angels & Demons" and "Terminator Salvation," which Sony distributed overseas. TV revenue was also up, helped by the new syndicated success "The Dr. Oz Show."

Operating income grew a less impressive but still solid 9% to $153 million.

The good news, however, didn't help save jobs at Sony, which earlier this week said it would lay off about 450 employees and eliminate 100 open positions. 

Time Warner's Warner Bros., meanwhile, grew its revenue 7% last quarter to $3.3 billion. Operating income shot up 61% to $436 million. Theatrical revenue from the inspirational drama"The Blind Side," for which Warner received a distribution fee from financier Alcon Entertainment, as well as DVD sales of "The Hangover" and "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," were top contributors.

Operating income for the News Corp.-owned 20th Century Fox nearly tripled in the same quarter to $324 million.

The strong performance for three separate studios marks a shift in momentum for Hollywood. In the quarter ended Sept. 30, for instance, revenue for both Warner Bros. and Sony Pictures declined, through Fox's performance improved.

The fourth quarter doesn't appear to have been good for Universal Pictures, however. Overall revenue for NBC Universal dropped 10%, and although owner General Electric doesn't break out the performance of the movie studio, DVD sales were likely very soft after a dismal summer at the box office with such underperformers as "Land of the Lost" and "Funny People."

Viacom Inc., owner of Paramount Pictures, will report its financial performance for last quarter Feb. 11.

--Ben Fritz