Tuesday, February 10, 2015

12497: Pascal’s Prestigious Penance.

The New York Times reported soon-to-be-reassigned Sony Chair and closet racist Amy Pascal will be working on the studio’s Spider-Man series. Hey, maybe she’ll support the fans on Twitter calling for a Black Spider-Man.

Amy Pascal to Work on Sony’s Spider-Man Team

By Brooks Barnes and Michael Cieply

LOS ANGELES — Amy Pascal may be giving up the Sony Pictures crown, but she’s keeping the jewels.

In a deal announced late Monday, Ms. Pascal will join the producing team for Sony’s most important film property — the Spider-Man series — when she steps down as the studio’s movie chairwoman in May. Landing the blockbuster franchise ranks her alongside Hollywood’s most prominent producers.

Ms. Pascal will also board the studio’s high-profile “Ghostbusters” remake, according to people briefed on her exit package who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss deals that are still private. She is additionally expected to tackle “Cleopatra,” an epic starring Angelina Jolie that has long gestated at Sony.

Sony also said on Monday that Kevin Feige, the president of Marvel Studios, which is owned by the Walt Disney Company, will join Ms. Pascal in producing the next Spider-Man film. As yet untitled, the movie will be released in July 2017. It will not continue the story set out in “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” which Sony released to mediocre results last year.

Together, the deals with Ms. Pascal and Marvel signify a structural transition at Sony, which was struggling with uneven box office results long before it suffered a devastating cyberattack in November. Like other studios, Sony will become less an operation run by an auteur chief — for the last 18 years, Ms. Pascal — and more a federation of powerful filmmaking arms competing for coveted release dates.

Whoever succeeds Ms. Pascal will have to play broker among the fiefs. Ms. Pascal, lured by the attractive new deal and drained by the pressures of the hacking crisis, announced her departure last week.

Thomas E. Rothman, the former chief executive of Fox Filmed Entertainment, is now in charge of Sony’s rejuvenated TriStar division. Jeff Robinov recently brought his Studio 8, financed by China’s Fosun Group, to Sony after leaving his post as the top movie executive at Warner Bros. Another Sony division dedicated to lower-budget urban comedies and horror films, Screen Gems, is run by Clint Culpepper.

Mr. Rothman and Mr. Robinov have only just started to assemble what are expected to be dozens of films that — alongside the contributions of Ms. Pascal — will shape Sony’s creative signature through much of the next decade. Mr. Rothman and Mr. Robinov will work together on one early film, Ang Lee’s “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk,” an Iraq war veteran story.

Ms. Pascal’s exit deal, among the richest in Hollywood history, will guarantee her income of between $30 million and $40 million over four years, according to people briefed on its terms. Her package also includes a percentage of profits on movies she produces and roughly $9 million annually for office costs and discretionary acquisition of scripts.

The agreement ranks in opulence with the farewell 20th Century Fox package given to Peter Chernin when he left as president of the News Corporation in 2009. Among the prime Fox properties Mr. Chernin joined as a producer was the reimagined “Planet of the Apes” series, which went on to generate more than $1 billion at the worldwide box office.

Ms. Pascal’s presence on so many films will inevitably crowd producers who might otherwise have had her slot. Notably, Avi Arad and Matthew Tolmach, both of whom were producers of the last two Spider-Man films, will transition to lesser roles on the next Spider-Man movie.

Spider-Man is a Marvel character, but Marvel sold Sony the movie rights in 1999 and has had almost no involvement since. As part of the agreement with Marvel announced Monday, Marvel can include the Spider-Man character in its own movies — starting, perhaps, with “Captain America: Civil War,” which will arrive in May 2016.

Sony will continue to finance, distribute, own and have final creative control of the stand-alone Spider-Man films.

The Spider-Man series came to Sony when Ms. Pascal helped connect the project with Laura Ziskin, a friend who resigned as president of Fox 2000 in 2009 and quickly set up shop as a producer at Sony. With the immense success of “Spider-Man,” which had about $822 million in worldwide ticket sales after its release in 2002, Ms. Ziskin helped reinvigorate the studio. (She died of breast cancer in 2011.)

Two more sequels, both starring Tobey Maguire as the title character, delivered mammoth ticket sales. But Sony’s last outing with Spider-Man — its original deal with Marvel requires the films to keep coming — did not perform as well as its predecessors, taking in about $706 million at the global box office in 2014.

While Sony has struggled to keep Spider-Man vibrant, Mr. Feige has delivered hits like “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.” “We always want to collaborate with the best and most successful filmmakers to grow our franchises,” Michael Lynton, Sony’s chief executive, said in a statement.

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