Sony watch: studio’s second half off to sluggish start

Sony Corp.’s Sony Pictures unit appears to have gotten off to a sluggish start at the box office in 2012’s second half.

The Amazing Spider-Man, which came out in the U.S. ahead of the July 4 holiday, has had worldwide ticket sales of $677.7 million, hardly a flop. But with an estimated production budget of $230 million (and with addition outlays for marketing), it won’t be very profitable.

The rule of thumb is a movie has to have ticket sales of three times the production budget to ensure profitability. (Studios split ticket sales with theater chains.) Spidey is near that point.

Meanwhile, this weekend, Sony’s Total Recall only sold an estimated $26 million of tickets in the U.S. and Canada in its debut. It finished well behind The Dark Knight Rises’ third-weekend ticket sales of $36.4 million.

Sony was looking to The Amazing Spider-Man, Total Recall and Skyfall, the 23rd James Bond film which premiers this fall, to boost its box-office fortunes. Skyfall is a joint deal with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which controls half the 007 franchise.