The shoe has dropped at Sony
Pictures Entertainment, which has opted not to wait to let go of beleaguered executive Amy Pascal
As of May, 2015, Pascal will step down as co-chairman of SPE and chairman of the Motion Picture Group to launch “a major new production venture at the studio,” according to a Sony press release.
Pascal joined Columbia Pictures in 1988 and would have happily continued to run production at the studio if the Sony hack hadn’t revealed her rather freewheeling use of emails in negotiations. Many of her emails– on “The Interview,” a Seth Rogen comedy that lead to the destructive North Korean hack of Sony’s computer systems, as well as the Steve Jobs movie that she lost to Universal (which just started production with Michael Fassbender in the lead) and off-color jokes with producer Scott Rudin about President Obama– served to diminish Pascal’s stature as a leading industry executive and representative of the global Sony corporation. (Here’s the NYT.
The next question is who will succeed the respected executive, as Michael Lynton is not a production maven. There’s Pascal’s Columbia Pictures president Doug Belgrad, as well as well-regarded production co-head Michael De Luca, who is seen as a filmmaker-friendly maverick and was brought in (much at the behest of frequent producing partner Scott Rudin) to work with Hannah Mingella. (There have been rumors of tension there.)
Pascal’s new company based on the Culver City lot will be fully financed by Sony and will focus on movies, television and theater. As part of a four-year agreement, SPE will retain all distribution rights worldwide to films. Pascal joins two high-profile power players with deluxe deals at the studio (who brought in outside financing): ex-Twentieth Century Fox co-chairman Tom Rothman, who runs the TriStar label, and ex-Warner Bros. motion picture chief Jeff Robinov. Rothman has a strong initial slate, while Robinov is just getting started. Both could easily do Pascal’s job, if they were willing to get back in the fray. Been there, done that.
“I have spent almost my entire professional life at Sony Pictures
and I am energized to be starting this new chapter based at the company I call home,” said Pascal. “I have always wanted to be a producer. Michael and I have been talking about this transition for quite some time and I am grateful to him for giving me the opportunity to pursue my long-held dream and for providing unparalleled support. As the slate for the next 2 years has come together, it felt like the right time to transition into this new role. I am so grateful to my team, some of whom I have worked with for the last 20 years and others who have joined more recently. I am leaving the studio in great hands. I am so proud of what we have all done together and I look forward to a whole lot more.”
“Amy’s creativity, drive, and bold choices helped define SPE as a studio where talented individuals could take chances and push boundaries in order to deliver outstanding entertainment,” said Michael Lynton, CEO of Sony Entertainment, who also suffered criticism for his handling of the Sony hacking. “The studio’s legacy is due in large part to Amy’s passion for storytelling and love of this industry. I am delighted that Amy will be continuing her association with SPE through this new venture, which capitalizes on her extraordinary talents. In recent months, SPE faced some unprecedented challenges, and I am grateful for Amy’s resilience and grace during this period. Amy has been a great partner to me in heading the studio and I am looking forward to a continued close working relationship with her in her new role on the lot.”
“Amy has had a truly extraordinary career,” said Kazuo Hirai, President and CEO of Sony Corporation. “In her years at Sony Pictures, Amy worked with some of the best talent in the film industry to create many of our studio’s most beloved and successful films. I want to thank her for her years of dedication and I am pleased that she will continue to work closely with SPE in her new venture.”
Under Pascal’s leadership SPE has amassed over $46 billion in global theatrical box office, 315 academy award nominations, 212 golden globe nominations and 115 number one openings. The films include:
Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, Skyfall, The Da Vinci Code, the Spider-man film series, Men in Black, To Die For, Ali, Charlie’s Angels, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Hancock, Michael Jackson’s This Is it, Awakenings, A League of Their Own, Hitch, Stuart Little, Girl Interrupted, Adaptation, 2012, Bad Teacher, Easy A, Superbad, District 9, Zombieland, Pursuit of Happyness, This is the End, Pineapple Express, Stepbrothers, Talladega Nights, 21 Jump Street, Salt, Closer, Something’s Gotta Give, Eat Pray Love, 50 First Dates, You Don’t Mess with the Zohan, Equalizer, Fury, Big Fish, A Knight’s Tale, Memoirs of a Geisha, The Ides of March, Karate Kid, Big Daddy, The Remains of the Day, Little Women, Sense and Sensibility, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Captain Phillips, Moneyball, American Hustle, Zero Dark Thirty, Groundhog Day, The Social Network and The Interview.
Pascal has also greenlit a film for producer George Clooney called “Hack Attack.” She should know.