So Many Dreams So Many Losses

Sony's $3 billion Hollywood debacle is the latest in a series of setbacks for Japanese firms in the U.S.

The Sony Corporation of America did Hollywood better than Hollywood. In the company's postmodern Manhattan headquarters, designed for AT&T by architect Philip Johnson, the sushi bar in a private corporate dining room had a tiny stream running through its marble counter. The $100 million makeover of Sony's Culver City studio lot included pillars adorned with elaborate murals. A fleet of corporate jets sat in the hangar, and fresh cut flowers were delivered daily to executives. The corporate culture seemed to say that to pamper is to prosper.

Sony invested $5 billion to buy Columbia and TriStar Pictures back in 1989, propelled...

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