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    Sony Pictures Entertainment

    Sony Pictures - Mack Bayda as Malcolm, A Man Called Otto
    Mack Bayda, Tom Hanks, and Cameron Britton as Malcolm, Otto, and Jimmy, A Man Called Otto


    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.





    Considering the quality, quantity, and diversity of films distributed under Sony Pictures Entertainment and its labels, GLAAD has given Sony Pictures Entertainment an INSUFFICIENT grade.


    A Man Called Otto

    Widest Theatrical Release: 3,957 Theaters

    Vito Russo Test: PASS

    This GLAAD Media Award-nominated film follows Otto, a man who is angry at the world after the death of his wife, Sonya. Slowly, over the course of the film, his hard veneer is chipped away by the kindness of his neighbors. One of those neighbors is Malcolm, a teen boy who Otto confronts about his paper delivery skills. Malcolm tells Otto that it’s one of his many jobs as he saves up for a car. He also confides in Otto that Sonya was one of the first people to support him through his transition, calling him Malcolm before many others did. Otto attempts to take his own life many times in this film, and one of them is interrupted by Malcolm knocking on his door, looking for a place to stay after his dad kicked him out for not being the child he wanted. Otto takes Malcolm in and teaches him about cars the way his own father taught him. This relationship clearly affects Otto in a positive way, bringing out a softer side of him. At the end of the film, when Otto passes away, he leaves his truck to Malcolm, showing the value of their relationship. Though Malcolm was not a lead character, it’s very welcome progress to see a young trans man play a pivotal and positive part in the major narrative of this movie. 

    Father Stu

    Widest Theatrical Release: 2,705 Theaters

    Vito Russo Test: FAIL

    This biopic follows the titular Stu as he goes to Hollywood to try to become an actor and instead becomes a priest. At one point, a drag queen on the street blows Stu a kiss and he grins at it; the moment is played to laugh at Stu because he thought she was a cis woman. A more egregious moment is when Stu is auditioning for a role, an agent offers to cast him in return for sexual favors. Stu then threatens the man. Those moments represent the community as jokes at best and predators at worst, which only amplifies anti-LGBTQ sentiment. It is disappointing to see these portrayals in a major film release in 2022. 

    Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance with Somebody

    Widest Theatrical Release: 3,625 Theaters

    Vito Russo Test: PASS

    Sony - Whitney Houston_ I Wanna Dance with SomebodyThis biopic of legend Whitney Houston follows her rise to fame, her struggles with addiction, and her personal relationships. One of those is with Robyn Crawford, who was Whitney’s lover before her marriage. The film shows the tenderness of that relationship, and how the industry and press encouraged Whitney to end it. When Whitney sleeps with Jermaine Jackson, it causes Whitney and Robyn to fight, with Whitney citing the bible and saying they will go to hell for this relationship. Whitney and Robyn maintain a close friendship, even as she marries Bobby Brown, who Robyn has contentious relationship with. Ultimately, Robyn and Bobby’s tensions escalate and Robyn decides to leave Whitney’s life. The film also features bisexual record producer Clive Davis, who serves as another concerned party, trying to convince Whitney to go to rehab. His partner is also briefly featured. Overall, the film painted a tragic picture of the beloved singer and treated her queer relationship with respect and gravity.


    Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song

    Widest Theatrical Release: 168 Theaters

    Vito Russo Test: PASS

    Sony - Hallelujah_ Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A SongThis documentary highlights the art and cultural impact of Leonard Cohen’s work, particularly focusing on his song “Hallelujah.” Though Cohen has mentioned a latent interest in men in interviews, this facet of his identity was not highlighted in the documentary. There were, however, several LGBTQ musicians interviewed in the film. The most prominent was Brandi Carlile, who talked about “Hallelujah” and its impact with her own reckoning of her faith with her sexuality. Out singer Rufus Wainright also has a prominent role in the documentary, talking about his cover of “Hallelujah” making huge waves with its inclusion on the Shrek soundtrack. Other LGBTQ folks who appeared in the documentary but didn’t fall under GLAAD’s methodology include Clive Davis, Amanda Palmer, and Jeff Wasser, plus archival footage of k.d. lang performing the titular track. 

    Hytti nro 6/Compartment Number 6

    Widest Theatrical Release: 63 Theaters

    Vito Russo Test: PASS

    Sony - Hytti nro 6This drama follows a Finnish student, Laura, and a Russian miner, Ljoha, in a train compartment together and their ensuing relationship and conversation. Laura is seen early on in the film with her lover Irina. She speaks to Ljoha about both the love and the troubles in that relationship, and how Irina was supposed to come on this trip, but had to work; leaving Laura on her own. A romance develops between Laura and Ljoha on the train and the two kiss. This act does not invalidate Laura’s fraught relationship with Irina. Rather it shows the main character as a bisexual woman figuring out where she belongs. Having a queer protagonist in a film set in Russia in the ‘90s could have opened the gates for Laura to face prejudice from the world, particularly from Ljoha, but instead the film gave a nuance to Laura, with her queerness and relationship to Irina simply a facet of her identity. 

    Jazz Fest: A New Orleans Story

    Widest Theatrical Release: 302 Theaters

    Vito Russo Test: FAIL

    This documentary follows New Orleans’ annual jazz festival and its cultural impact on the city and on music. One of the people interviewed is famous queer musician Big Freedia, who states, “New Orleans is so special because we do accept all walks of life, no matter if you’re Black, white, gay, straight… Freedom of expression and freedom to do whatever they choose to do and love whoever they choose to love and to be themselves… It makes us who we are as people and as a city.” Though this was only about 45 seconds of the film, Big Freedia’s appearance helps round out the full picture of New Orleans. The documentary included pansexual singer Boyfriend, though there was no mention of her sexuality or relationships in the film and therefore she was not counted in GLAAD’s tally. 

    The Return of Tanya Tucker: Featuring Brandi Carlile

    Widest Theatrical Release: 350 Theaters

    Vito Russo Test: PASS

    Sony - The Return of Tanya Tucker_ Featuring Brandi CarlileThis film follows the release of country legend Tanya Tucker’s 2019 comeback album When I’m Livin’. The album is written and produced by out lesbian singer Brandi Carlile, who is very much the second lead of this documentary. Carlile touches on how Tucker’s toughness helped shape her ideas of gender and sexuality. She also introduces her wife and child to Tucker, who is very pleased to meet them. Carlile has become a music legend in her own right and this doc is a touching portrayal of her new friendship with her own idol.



    Return to Seoul

    Widest Theatrical Release: 350 Theaters

    Vito Russo Test: PASS

    Sony - Return to SeoulThis film follows Freddie, a woman who was born in South Korea and then was adopted by French parents as a baby. In the film, her flight to Tokyo is canceled and she decides to take an impromptu trip to Seoul, where she begins searching for her biologial parents. During the film, which takes place over several years, Freddie sleeps with several different men. She also attempts to kiss Tena, a woman who is her makeshift translator and friend in South Korea, who swiftly rejects her. Years later, when Freddie has a boyfriend, she invites another woman to kiss her boyfriend and watches. The film’s focus is not on Freddie’s sexuality, more on the complex dynamics with her biological parents and South Korea. However, these moments show that Freddie is attracted to women as well as men. Though not a huge part of the story, Freddie’s queerness adds a layer to an already complex character, and it is exciting to see a queer lead of a critically acclaimed independent film.


    The Quintessential Quintuplets Movie

    Straight to Streaming Release

    Vito Russo Test: FAIL

    This film follows Futaro, a tutor to five quintuplets, one of whom he is in love with. During a conversation he has with one of the quintuplets, an actor named Itsuki, she mentions that the only person she’s kissed is another girl while filming a drama. We see that moment briefly in flashback, but Itsuki clarifies she couldn’t have done that if she were kissing a man, implying that she is only attracted to men. Therefore, GLAAD did not count Itsuki in the final tally.


    Kay Cannon’s comedy My Ex-Friend’s Wedding will come out in spring 2024. Cannon has a history of including LGBTQ characters in her work, and the film includes Ariana DeBose in the cast. Gay former *NSYNC member Lance Bass is behind a film following two superfans of the band. The film will be penned with Rachel Bloom, who included several queer characters in her TV series Crazy Ex-Girfriend.  

    Sony has an adaptation of The Diabolic in the works, which includes a queer protagonist, Nemesis. The studio also will be adapting the Broken Earth trilogy, a best-selling fantasy series which includes queer and trans characters of color in the ensemble. Sony continues to adapt Marvel properties under the Spider-Man umbrella. There is a huge opportunity for queer inclusion in these films, as the Spiderverse series has a large LGBTQ fanbase and includes many Gen Z characters, who are statistically more likely to be LGBTQ. 

    Sony Pictures Classics’ dramedy Shortcomings features out actor Sherry Cola as the lesbian best friend of the lead. SPC also has the rights to Sundance hit The Persian Version, which features a queer Iranian screenwriter who tries to understand her mother. 

    Sony has space in the independent scene, the mid-budget comedy, and the superhero franchise spaces for further LGBTQ inclusion and GLAAD hopes that Sony takes this opportunity to expand and diversify its LGBTQ representation.

    In the past, GLAAD had counted films released theatrically by Sony Pictures in this report, while counting arthouse distributor Sony Pictures Classics separately. This year, GLAAD is counting films distributed under Sony Pictures, Sony Pictures Classics, as well as Sony’s anime-focused streamer Crunchyroll as one overall brand.

    Summary of 2022 Findings


    Total films released in 2022 under studio and official imprints


    Total number of LGBTQ-inclusive films


    Percent of LGBTQ-inclusive films of studio total releases


    Number of films that pass the Vito Russo Test



    Total theatrical films released in 2022 under studio and official imprints


    Total number of theatrical LGBTQ inclusive films


    Percent of theatrical LGBTQ-inclusive films of studio theatrical releases


    Number of theatrical films that pass the Vito Russo Test



    Total streaming only films released in 2022 under studio and official imprints


    Total number of streaming LGBTQ inclusive films


    Percent of LGBTQ-inclusive of studio total streaming releases


    Number of streaming films that pass the Vito Russo Test



































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