LOS ANGELES - Amy Pascal will step down as co-chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment and head of the film studio, nearly three months after a massive hack hit the company and revealed embarrassing emails.
Pascal, one of the most powerful women in Hollywood and the force behind such critical and commercial hits as "The Social Network" and "American Hustle," will launch a major new production venture at the studio focused on movies, television and theater, Sony Pictures said Thursday. Her career with Sony has spanned nearly 20 years.
During the hack, Pascal came under fire for racist remarks about President Obama's presumed choice in movies that surfaced in leaked emails. She apologized for "insensitive and inappropriate" comments in her emails that she called "not an accurate reflection of who I am."
Pascal also faced criticism for green-lighting the film that may have inspired the hacking to begin with: "The Interview," which starred Seth Rogen and James Franco as bumbling journalists tasked with killing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
After its systems were hacked, Sony initially opted not to release "The Interview" to theaters. The company later backtracked, giving the film a limited theatrical release and making it available online.
Pascal will transition to the new venture in May. Sony Pictures will finance Pascal under a four-year contract and retain all distribution rights worldwide to funded films. The venture will be located at the Sony Pictures lot in Culver City, California.
"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," said Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton in a statement. "In recent months, SPE faced some unprecedented challenges, and I am grateful for Amy's resilience and grace during this period."
Since Pascal has led the studio, Sony Pictures has amassed over $46 billion in global theatrical box office revenue and 315 academy award nominations. Some of the films Pascal shepherded include the last three James Bond films, "The Da Vinci Code," ''Adaptation," ''Eat Pray Love," ''The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," ''Moneyball," and "Zero Dark Thirty."
"I have always wanted to be a producer. 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," Pascal said in a statement. "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."