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Amy Pascal steps down as Sony co-chair 3 months after massive hack

by The Frame staff and AP | The Frame

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Amy Pascal, Sony Pictures Entertainment co-chairman, arrives at Variety's 5th Annual Power of Women event at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel on Friday, Oct. 4, 2013, in Beverly Hills, Calif. Jordan Strauss/Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

Sony Pictures co-chair Amy Pascal will leave her post as studio head to start her own production company, the studio announced today. Pascal will move into her new venture in May.

The move comes just three months after a massive hack of Sony's email system that revealed embarrassing correspondence between Pascal and other executives, film directors and movie stars. 

Pascal will not be leaving Sony, according to the official press release. Instead, a four-year agreement stipulates that Sony Pictures Entertainment will finance Pascal’s company and retain all distribution rights worldwide to films financed. Her new company will focus on movies, television and theater, and will be located on the Sony Pictures lot in Culver City. 

“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 in a statement.  “I have always wanted to be a producer."

Pascal is one of the most powerful women in Hollywood and the force behind such critical and commercial hits as "The Social Network" and "American Hustle." Her career with Sony has spanned nearly 20 years.

During the hack, which authorities traced to North Korea, 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." 

But the hack might have been just the final nail in the coffin. For years, Sony has struggled to match rival studios in creating global franchises, while Pascal has clung to fading stars such as Adam Sandler and Will Smith, who starred in the disastrous “After Earth” for Sony. The studio’s upcoming summer slate also looks anemic compared to the rest of its Hollywood competition.

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.

"The studio's legacy is due in large part to Amy's passion for storytelling and love of this industry," said Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton in a statement. "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 forAmy's resilience and grace during this period."

Since Pascal has led the studio, Sony Pictures has amassed more than $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."

This story has been updated.

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