April 23, 2014 1:14 am JST

Sony hoping 'Spider-Man' can rescue electronics sales

TOKYO -- Sony's electronics and entertainment businesses are embarking on their first major promotional tie-up, aiming to use such popular properties as "Spider-Man" to help shore up flagging home electronics sales.

     "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" opens in Japan on Friday and in the U.S. next month. The film cost $200 million to make and is expected to bring in box-office receipts of $1 billion -- a record for Sony. Top staffers in the entertainment and electronics businesses met last fall to discuss a sales tie-up.

     The company will partner with Best Buy and other American electronics retailers to give movie tickets or "Spider-Man" on Blu-ray Disc to buyers of such Sony products as flat-panel televisions or Blu-ray recorders. Purchasers of 4K high-resolution TVs will be offered bonus 4K "Spider-Man" content.

     Another promotion will involve the Xperia Z2 smartphone, due out in Japan as early as May or June. Augmented-reality functionality, which overlays digital content onto physical space, will come loaded on the phone, allowing users to view "Spider-Man" AR images on certain photos.

     The electronics department is planning a promotion in conjunction with the worldwide release next month of an album of unreleased work by pop icon Michael Jackson, who died in 2009.

     "Michael is an important part of Sony," said President Kazuo Hirai, who came from the company's music business.

     Smartphone or tablet purchasers will be able to download the new album free of charge. The Xperia Z2 will be loaded with audio options meant to simulate a live performance, developed in collaboration with the album's producer.

     Although Sony's entertainment business is a consistent earner, the electronics business apparently sustained its third straight operating loss last fiscal year.