Amid awards season recognition as a producer, Amy Pascal has admitted that her 2015 dismissal as co-chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment was probably merited.
Pascal made the remark Saturday at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills at the Producers Guild of America’s panel discussion featuring the nominees for its Darryl F. Zanuck Award. Pascal is the only producer nominated this year for two films — “Molly’s Game” and “The Post” — and was asked by PGA co-president Gary Lucchesi if she loves being a producer.
“I think I should have gotten fired much sooner,” she said in response, evoking laughter and applause from the capacity crowd.
Pascal stepped down in February, 2015, in the wake of the massive computer hack of Sony Pictures email system, and segued into a producing deal at the studio.
Pascal was asked by “The Big Sick” producer Barry Mendel about what she had learned as a producer since leaving Sony.
“I learned that everything you think you learned as a studio executive is complete bull—-,” she responded.
Mark Gordon, who also produced “Molly’s Game,” followed by asserting that Pascal’s tenure at Sony, which lasted more than a decade, showed that she loved movies above all. He praised her producing talents, saying “she was focused on making great films and she works her a– off.”
Pascal also noted that director Steven Spielberg asserted that “The Post” needed to be made quickly after he became attached in February. She said President Donald Trump’s election and his constant attacks on the news media resonated deeply with those involved with making “The Post.”
“I think every single day, it became more important to those making the film,” she added.
The panel included Graham Broadbent for “Three Billboards Outside, Ebbing, Missouri,” J. Miles Dale for “The Shape of Water,” Sean McKittrick for “Get Out,” Evelyn O’Neill for “Lady Bird,” Margot Robbie for “I, Tonya,” Deborah Snyder for “Wonder Woman,” Peter Spears for “Call Me by Your Name” and Emma Thomas for “Dunkirk.” The winner will be announced Saturday night at the PGA’s awards show at the Beverly Hilton.
Robbie credited Steven Rogers’ script for propelling her to develop “I, Tonya,” the black comedy about disgraced figure skater Tonya Harding. “I wanted to produce and star in ‘I, Tonya’ before I even knew it was a true story,” she said.
Thomas expressed surprise that the story of the 1940 Dunkirk evacuation of more than 300,000 Allied troops had never previously been the subject of a movie, given the depth of feeling that the British have about the event.
“It’s almost how we define ourselves — stoic and getting on with it,” she added.
Gordon, whose producing credits date back to the 1980s, said that producers can operate more effectively outside the major studios, which will soon shrink from six to five with Disney buying Fox’s entertaiment assets. Of the PGA Zanuck nominees, only “Dukirk,” “Get Out” and “Wonder Woman” were released by the majors; the other eight films were released by independents or specialty divisions.
Thomas, Christopher Nolan’s spouse and longtime producing partner, expressed optimism for the majors backing films with diverse casts, adding, “I’m hopeful that as audiences respond to great diverse movies, studios will see the need to make those.”