“Challenges make us stronger,” Sony Pictures Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton told staff during a town hall meeting Wednesday a day after the company’s film studio announced a change in its leadership.
The meeting was described as a state of the state, by insiders — and it’s a state that’s makeup has changed dramatically. Former Fox studio chief Tom Rothman has been named chairman of Sony’s Motion Picture Group, replacing Amy Pascal, who was pushed out after more than a decade at the studio. Her exit came on the heels of a devastating cyber attack on Sony that exposed budgets, financial information and the emails of top executives. It also cost the company tens of millions of dollars in legal fees and lost box office revenue from “The Interview,” the raunchy comedy about an assassination attempt on Kim Jong Un that inspired North Korea to hack the studio.
But, according to individuals in the crowd, Lynton emphasized that the studio had turned the page from those frightening and devastating months, saying Sony was ready for its “next chapter.” He said Rothman, who was on the Sony lot running its TriStar division, will “bring incredible leadership” as a spotlight landed on the new studio chief as he sat in the crowd. Rothman did not speak.
When attackers first breached Sony’s cyber defenses, the studio was forced to shut down its computer systems and even took to writing things on white boards as they were forced to stay low tech. Yet, Lynton said that “a day didn’t go by that we missed any deadline.” He thanked Sony’s “amazing team” for their efforts in keeping the studio running and in their work helping it recover from the data leak.
In addition to Rothman, Lynton also recognized newly appointed Sony Pictures Animation president Kristine Belson and the studio’s new worldwide marketing and distribution chief Josh Greenstein during the 20-minute meeting.
He also mentioned that his own contract had been extended this week.
“I am here to stay,” Lynton said.