In a move that’s come as a bit of a surprise, while at the same time not, Sony Pictures chairman Amy Pascal, one of the most powerful women in Hollywood, has resigned. As her contract was due to expire in March the resignation seems more a symbolic falling-on-the-sword in the aftermath of the now-infamous Sony hack of late last year. In case you’ve forgotten, the major security breach lead to many employees’ personal information being exposed, financial records and movie budgets disclosed, unreleased movies (such as Fury) leaked online, and The Interview cancellation saga. With many leaked e-mails also showing her in an unflattering light, including ones where she spoke bluntly about major stars, argued violently with producer Scott Rudin and made light of US President Barack Obama, this allows Sony Pictures to save some face in that regard and smooth over relations with all those mentioned.
There are also suggestions that while she’s overseen many blockbuster movies and television series during her tenure (such as the James Bond franchise revival, the Spider-Man franchise and Breaking Bad to name but a few) she’s been under pressure lately following a few major box-office flops like After Earth and White House Down. Even The Amazing Spider-Man sequel that earned $700 million is regarded as under-performing as previous movies earned over $800 million.
However in Hollywood swords tend to have retractable blades, and thankfully she’s entering a new venture that will make good use of her talent. As of May Pascal will be head up her own production company, financed by Sony, working out of the Sony Pictures offices in Culver City, and with Sony having the distribution rights to her company’s productions for the next four years. She’ll also retain producer credits on the new Ghostbusters movie as well as upcoming movies in the Spider-Man franchise.
In a statement (via THR) she said:
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. I have always wanted to be a producer. [Sony Entertainment CEO] Michael [Lynton] 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 two 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.
In an e-mail to Sony Pictures employees Michael Lynton said:
I am happy to say that Amy’s decision is not the end of her relationship with the studio but the start of a new and exciting chapter in her extraordinary career that promises to be mutually beneficial. She can refocus her career on her first great love — filmmaking — and SPE can continue its association with an extremely talented and valued associate. Her decision has the full support of [Sony Corp. president and CEO] Kazuo Hirai.
He went on to say:
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. 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.
Pascal began working for Sony Pictures in 1988, and as a major studio head with a strong track record of pushing for both racial and gender diversity and equality in the industry (which sorely needs it) she’s sure to be missed.
Last Updated: February 6, 2015