Considering the quality, quantity, and diversity of films distributed under Sony and its labels, GLAAD has given Sony an INSUFFICIENT grade.
Highlights of Sony’s wide theatrical releases include a trans teen shining in A Man Called Otto and the exploration of Whitney Houston’s sexuality in the biopic I Wanna Dance With Somebody. It would have been exciting to see more films beyond the drama genre include LGBTQ representation in wide releases.
Sony Picture Classics is known for documentaries and international films, and both these genres had LGBTQ-inclusive films last year. From bisexual leads in Return to Seoul and Hytti nro 6 to LGBTQ inclusion in music documentaries, Sony Pictures Classics tells many LGBTQ stories. Sadly, Sony’s streamer Crunchyroll contained no LGBTQ-inclusive films, despite the fact that the anime fanbase is full of eager queer consumers.
Overall, GLAAD hopes to see more LGBTQ inclusion in Sony’s future comedy, family, and animated slates to parallel their recent dramatic releases.
Founded as Cohn-Brant-Cohn Film Sales in 1918, the film studio was renamed Columbia Pictures in 1924. It began to garner prestige in the 1920’s for producing some of the biggest films and stars of the classic Hollywood era, as well as its association with director Frank Capra. For a brief period in the ‘80s, the studio was acquired by Coca-Cola and launched TriStar pictures. Columbia/TriStar was its own entity before Sony purchased it in 1989. Since 1992, Sony Pictures Classics, Sony Pictures Entertainment’s specialty film label, has acquired, produced, and distributed independent, documentary and arthouse films. In April 2021, Sony entered into multi-year deals with Netflix and The Walt Disney Company to host films on their streaming platforms, Disney+ and Hulu, after their theatrical runs. Legendary Entertainment reached a distribution deal with Sony to distribute its future slate of films in November 2022, however, this deal does not include Warner Bros.’ Dune and MonsterVerse films. Currently, Sony distributes films from its many imprints including Columbia, Tristar, Sony Pictures Classics, Sony Pictures Animation, Screen Gems, and Affirm.
The political thriller Advise and Consent (1962) included a subplot where a Senate chairman is blackmailed over an affair he had with another man prior to his death by suicide, and TriStar’s Basic Instinct (1993) led to LGBTQ groups, including GLAAD, denouncing vilified portrayals of lesbian and bisexual women. Sony Pictures Classics has released multiple high-profile LGBTQ films, such the documentary The Celluloid Closet (1995), based on GLAAD co-founder Vito Russo’s book of the same name, which explores LGBTQ representation throughout the history of cinema. Additional LGBTQ-inclusive films from Sony Pictures Classics include My Life in Pink (1997); Kill Your Darlings (2013); Pedro Almodóvar’s I’m So Excited! (2013); Love Is Strange (2014); Grandma (2015); The Meddler (2016); GLAAD Media Award winners Call Me By Your Name and A Fantastic Woman (2017); GLAAD Media Award nominee Pain and Glory (2019), Greed (2020), GLAAD Media Award winner Parallel Mothers (2021) and more.