Amy Beth Pascal is an American business executive and film producer. She served as the Chairperson of the Motion Pictures Group of Sony Pictures Entertainment and Co-Chairperson of SPE, including Sony Pictures Television, from 2006 until 2015. She has overseen the production and distribution of many films and television programs, and was co-chairman during the late-2014 Sony Pictures hack.
Her company, Pascal Pictures, made its debut with the 2016 Ghostbusters reboot. In 2017, she produced , Molly's Game and The Post. She has received two Academy Award for Best Picture nominations, for producing The Post and Little Women.
Early life and educationPascal was born on March 25, 1958, in Los Angeles, California. Her father, Anthony H. Pascal, was an economic researcher at the RAND Corporation who wrote about African American social inequality and the cost of AIDS. Her mother, Barbara Pascal, was a librarian and owner of an art bookstore, Artworks. Her family is Jewish. Pascal attended Crossroads School in Santa Monica, then worked as a bookkeeper at Crossroads School while getting her international relations degree at UCLA.
CareerPascal started her career as a secretary working for producer Tony Garnett at the independent production company Kestrel Films. From 1986 to 1987, she served as Vice President of Production at 20th Century Fox.
Sony PicturesPascal joined Columbia Pictures in 1988, where she was responsible for the development of films including: Groundhog Day, Little Women, Awakenings, and A League of Their Own. She left Columbia in 1994 and served for two years as the President of Production for Turner Pictures while Scott Sassa was president of Turner Entertainment. During her time at Turner, Pascal hired Damon Lee as a development director.
Pascal rejoined Columbia in 1996 as the studio's President after Turner Pictures merged with Warner Bros. In 1999, Pascal became Chair of Columbia Pictures.
Pascal was named Co-Chairperson of Sony Pictures Entertainment in September 2006. She also served as Chairman of SPE's Motion Picture Group from December 2003 to February 2015. Pascal and SPE's Chairman and CEO Michael Lynton led all of SPE's lines of business, including: motion picture production, acquisition and distribution; television production, acquisition and distribution; television networks; digital content creation and distribution; operation of studio facilities; and development of new entertainment products, services and technologies.
Pascal has overseen the production and distribution of a number of films, including the Spider-Man franchise; the James Bond films Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace and Skyfall, the first Bond film to gross over $1 billion at the worldwide box office; The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons; Sony Pictures Animation's The Smurfs, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, and Hotel Transylvania; and Best Picture Oscar nominees American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Zero Dark Thirty, Moneyball and The Social Network.
Pascal, along with Lynton, also oversaw Sony Pictures Television, which produces and distributes television programming for multiple platforms in the U.S. and internationally.
In 2013, Pascal was elected to the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
She clashed with investor Daniel S. Loeb, who accused both Pascal and Lynton of "poor financial controls." According to the Financial Times, "she employed an assistant who earned more than $250,000 a year, and had use of a private jet and other perks in keeping with Hollywood's golden era rather than an age of austerity." At the end of 2014, Pascal was the only woman at Sony to earn over $1 million per annum, having earned US$3 million a year.
Pascal's contract with Sony was scheduled to expire in March 2015. On February 5, 2015, Pascal announced she would step down in May 2015 Pascal stated during a Women in the World discussion on February 11, 2015, that she had been "fired" by Sony.
Film producerPascal started her own production company, with a four-year contract for funding and distribution via Sony Pictures Entertainment. The company, called Pascal Pictures, hired Rachel O'Connor as production chief and Ian Dalrymple to open and run a New York branch. Pascal Pictures was expected to continue Amy Pascal's "book-friendly" focus, and Dalrymple's office was expected to facilitate this. She produced the Ghostbusters reboot film and the Marvel Studios-produced , in addition to theatre and television work. TriStar President Hannah Minghella obtained rights to Maestra by L. S. Hilton with the intent for Pascal to produce the film. Pascal Pictures made a winning bid for a memoir by Zoë Quinn about "Gamergate" called Crash Override: How to Save the Internet from Itself, which was sold to Touchstone/Simon & Schuster for publication in September 2016. Pascal and Elizabeth Cantillon optioned rights for a TriStar TV series based on books by Eve Babitz set in 1960s-1970s Los Angeles. For a sum in the "mid-six to seven figures", Pascal made a deal for Michael Diliberti's Athena, about a descendant of the goddess Athena who is recruited to a secret organization. Together with Sony, Pascal obtained rights for the TV crime drama Darktown, which she plans to executive produce with Jamie Foxx.
In May 2019, it was announced that Pascal and her production company Pascal Pictures is leaving Sony and moving to Universal Pictures for a first-look deal after 30 years at Sony Pictures.
Activities and awardsIn 2001, Pascal was honored with the Women in Film's Crystal Award, which recognizes those whose work has helped to expand the role of women in the entertainment industry. Pascal has been included in The Hollywood Reporters annual Women in Entertainment Power 100 list and Forbes ranking of the World's 100 Most Powerful Women., she was ranked as the 28th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes, up from 36th in 2013.
PhilanthropyPascal serves on the Honorary Committee of the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Los Angeles. She has made charitable contributions to Teen Line.
She was awarded the 2008 Humanitarian Award from the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a non-profit organization based in Los Angeles which combats antisemitism and promotes human rights and tolerance. She received the award at the 2008 National Tribute Dinner, an annual fundraiser which raised US$2 million for the center. In her acceptance speech, she said, "I believe in what the museum is committed to: not just the literal event of the Holocaust but not letting anything like that happen again."
In August 2014, in the wake of the 2014 Israel–Gaza conflict, alongside more than 190 members of the Hollywood entertainment industry, she signed a petition condemning Hamas started by Creative Community for Peace, a pro-Israeli non-profit organization. The petition read in part, "Hamas cannot be allowed to rain rockets on Israeli cities, nor can it be allowed to hold its own people hostage. Hospitals are for healing, not for hiding weapons. Schools are for learning, not for launching missiles. Children are our hope, not our human shields."
Sony Pictures hackOn December 9, 2014, a group called "Guardians of Peace" hacked into Sony's computer system, which led to the theft of internal company documents. The fallout became a major international diplomatic incident in North Korea–United States relations. In subsequent news coverage Pascal and producer Scott Rudin were noted to have had an exchange in these documents about Pascal's upcoming encounter with President Barack Obama. Pascal joked about the president, who was Black, about possibly enjoy Django Unchained and The Butler or the comedy Think Like a Man which features an ensemble cast of black comedians. Rudin responded, "Ride Along, I bet he likes Kevin Hart.
Racist commentsNews reports branded the exchange as "racially insensitive," while others called it "racist." Pascal responded by saying "the content of my emails were insensitive and inappropriate but are not an accurate reflection of who I am."
Civil rights leader Al Sharpton suggested the apology was not sufficient, compared her to Donald Sterling, and called for more diversity in Sony's hiring pool. A New York Times columnist denounced the media's focus on Pascal's communications and many other emails released by the hack as "Giving Material Aid to Criminals", saying "at least the hackers are doing it for a cause. The press is doing it for a nickel." In the popular press, coverage of the story was extended with actress and producer Lisa Kudrow suggesting Pascal should have known better, adding, "Don't write anything you don't want broadcast". At the Writers Guild of America Awards 2014 on January 7, 2015, Kudrow, who was the presenter, mentioned the Sony hack again, arguing that it was disturbing "because Scott Rudin and Amy Pascal thought that was witty banter."
Color of Change, a civil rights organization, launched a petition in December 2014 calling upon Sony to fire Pascal from her role, arguing, "Pascal's comments are confirmation of the manipulative, exploitative relationship corporations like Sony have with Black folks." They added, "We must hold Pascal accountable here; not just for her horrendous comments, but also for her role at the helm of a corporate agenda that views Black America as one big, lucrative joke."
In a 2020 interview with Vulture, Thandie Newton accused Pascal of making racially insensitive and demeaning demands of her for the film remake of Charlie's Angels, a film Newton ended up declining to star in due to Pascal's alleged behavior. Pascal responded by stating she was "horrified" by the story and had no recollection of it.
Gender pay gapAfter Pascal left Sony, she was interviewed about Sony Entertainment's gender pay gap that had been exposed by the leaks. Tina Brown asked Pascal to explain why actresses did not realize they were being paid less than male actors. Pascal said, "People want to work for less money. I'll pay them less money. I don't call them up and go, 'Can I give you some more?'... what women have to do is not work for less money.... People should know what they're worth and say no."
Women making less than their male counterparts and male co-stars learned of the difference from the hack, such as actress Charlize Theron, who had been able to obtain a deal of more than $10 million in early January 2015 to match the fee of Chris Hemsworth, her male co-star in The Huntsman film production. The difference between what men and women made was pervasive at Sony Pictures under Pascal, with only one female out of the seventeen studio executives earning more than $1 million per year according to the unconfirmed emails, and Columbia Pictures co-presidents of production Michael De Luca and Hannah Minghella serving in identical jobs but with a million dollar difference in pay.