Sony Pictures Entertainment boss Amy Pascal is stepping down from her job as the company’s co-chairman following the fallout from the hacking scandal sparked by the release of Seth Rogen’s comedy The Interview.
The studio was targeted by cybercriminals in November when they illegally gained access to Sony’s computer systems and databases and stole emails, celebrities’ personal information and new and unreleased movies.
A number of the leaked correspondence involved emails between Pascal and producer Scott Rudin, who blasted Angelina Jolie as a “minimally talented, spoiled brat” in one angry message. They also poked fun at President Barack Obama in another email exchange, making ill-advised racial quips about his movie preferences.
Both Pascal and Rudin issued apologies for their “insensitive” comments, but the controversy appears to have cost Pascal her role as a top Sony executive.
Company chiefs, who spent $15 million dealing with the fallout from the cyber leak, announced on Thursday that Pascal will vacate her role as co-chairman and start her own production venture under the Sony umbrella in May.
Commenting on the news in a statement, which makes no mention of the hacking scandal, Pascal writes, “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…
“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.”
Hackers calling themselves the Guardians of Peace claimed responsibility for the Sony leaks and threatened to continue uploading private emails unless film bosses agreed to pull The Interview from its Christmas Day release.
Sony briefly succumbed to the demands, but later launched The Interview, about two American journalists hired by the CIA to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, on limited release and via streaming services.