November 14, 2018

Sony Pictures co-chairman Amy Pascal gets a graceful exit

It comes as no surprise that Amy Pascal, the longtime studio chief of Sony Pictures Entertainment announced this morning that she will step down from her post as head of the studio. The news follows weeks of speculation that Pascal would have to vacate the studio's top spot following the humiliating PR debacle that ensued when a string of her private emails were made public during last year’s Sony hack. Among the cringe-worthy revelations were insults lobbed at Angelina Jolie and even President Obama.

But although Pascal will resign from her perch on high, she isn't going very far: In a press release issued earlier today, she announced the launch of a “major new production venture” that will be housed and funded by Sony in a cushy four-year deal.

“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,” Pascal said in a statement. “I have always wanted to be a producer. [Co-chairman] 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.”

This is a very sweet deal for Pascal, whose contract as co-chair(wo)man was set to expire in 2015 anyway. Now, for the price of stepping down a little bit early (and un-rankling Sony shareholders in the process), Pascal gets to add four more years to her high-profile professional life in what can only be assumed a very nice arrangement. It has already been announced that she will remain on the Sony lot running her own production outfit; and though her deal has not been disclosed, it is safe to say that her previous $3 million per year salary suggests she is highly valued by the company and will be compensated commensurately.

Over the course of her tenure at Sony, Pascal was responsible for overseeing the James Bond franchise, including “Casino Royale,” “Quantum of Solace,” and “Skyfall,” as well as The Da Vinci Code and Spider-man movies, and myriad Oscar-nominees and winners including “American Hustle,” “Zero Dark Thirty,” and “The Social Network.”

With a resume like that, it's a good bet the studio would miss her if she left. “I hate to see her go,” Patrick Goldstein, former L.A. Times entertainment columnist wrote in an email. “Since she was really the last studio boss who made movies that were an actual reflection of her taste, not simply product. And of course, now there isn't even one woman studio chairman in town.”

Pascal still has a ways to go before she can diminsh the stain of the past. But interestingly, there is precedent for that: Hollywood was created by a group of Eastern European Jews who set out to do the same thing. It has always been the perfect place to recreate yourself — and more than a century after its founding, Hollywood still loves a good comeback.