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Amy Pascal Sony Resignation: A Timeline of Cyberterror and Misfires

Looking back at the chaotic two months that preceded besieged Sony exec’s exit

Amy Pascal stepped down as Sony Pictures Entertainment co-chairman and chairman of the Motion Pictures Group on Thursday, a move that wasn’t terribly surprising, given the two months of chaos that preceded her resignation.

In the weeks leading up to Thursday’s announcement, Sony was crippled by a massive cyberattack that included embarrassing leaks of Pascal’s emails, which was followed by the cancellation — and eventual un-cancellation — of the Seth Rogen-James Franco comedy “The Interview.”

Below, TheWrap compiles a timeline of the events leading up to Pascal’s resignation.

Nov. 24: Sony gets hacked, with employees greeted by an ominous message on their computer screens when they attempt to log in. At the time, the cyberattack is attributed to a hacker group calling itself Guardians of Peace.

“Hacked by #GOP,” the message read, accompanied by an image of a skeleton. Pascal remains silent as the company is besieged and employees’ personal information, including medical records, is compromised.


Dec. 4: As all hell begins to break loose, the Hollywood Reporter ranks Pascal #4 on its annual Women in Entertainment Power 100. At least at the time.

Dec. 8: The hack takes a personal turn for Pascal, as hackers release her email box to the internet. Among the revelations in Pascal’s emails: A skirmish with producer Scott Rudin over the state of the Steve Jobs biopic “Jobs.” The “Jobs” conversation also includes concerns that Angelina Jolie potentially luring director David Fincher away to direct a Cleopatra film.

“I’m not destroying my career over a minimally talented spoiled brat who thought nothing of shoving this off her plate for eighteen months so she could go direct a movie,” Rudin wrote in one message.

angelina and amy pascal

Dec. 10: Pascal has awkward encounter with Angelina Jolie at The Hollywood Reporter Women in Entertainment Power 100 breakfast.

Dec. 11: Pascal and Rudin are compelled to apologize after an email exchange between the pair is revealed, in which they made racially insensitive remarks about President Obama.

“Would he like to finance some movies,” Rudin asked after Pascal sought his advice on what she should say to Obama at a fundraiser.

“I doubt it. Should I ask him if he liked DJANGO?” said Pascal, with Rudin replying “12 YEARS.” Pascal continued, “Or the butler. Or think like a man?”

Dec. 11: In an interview with TheWrap’s Sharon Waxman, Pascal is asked whether the leak has damaged her to the point that she can no longer effectively lead Sony, Pascal doesn’t exactly exude confidence in her reply.

“I hope that’s not true. I hope that’s not true,” Pascal said. “I don’t think it’s true.”


Dec. 17: Sony decides to pull the James Franco-Seth Rogen comedy “The Interview.” The film, which depicts the pair embarking on a plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, is believed to have spurred the hack, in which North Korea is now believed to have played a part. Sony’s decision is met with criticism, with Newt Gingrich, Rob Lowe and Mitt Romney, among others, accusing the company of caving under pressure.

the interview

December 19: President Obama says Sony’s decision to pull “The Interview” from theaters was ill-advised, telling reporters, “I think they made a mistake.” With North Korea as a suspect in the Sony hack, Obama took Sony to task for capitulating.

“We cannot have a society in which some dictator in some place can start imposing censorship here in the U.S. If somebody can intimidate folks out of releasing a satirical comedy, imagine what they’ll do when they see a documentary or political film they don’t like? … That’s not what we are, that’s not what America’s about.”

Kim Jong-un, Barack Obama, Sony Pictures Entertain (Courtesy of Linda Ge)

Dec. 23: Sony decides to release “The Interview” in theaters after all, along with a video-on-demand release. Christmas comes early for freedom of expression.

Sony chief Amy Pascal airport (TMZ)


Dec. 27: Following the box-office redemption of “The Interview,” Pascal is descended on by paparazzi at Los Angeles International Airport. Asked if the film’s financial success would help  her keep her job, Pascal again wasn’t terribly confident. “I hope so,” she replied.

Sony Pictures

Dec. 28: “The Interview” takes in $2.8 million at the box office over the four-day weekend of its release — a far cry from the $20 million-plus that the film was projected to make when it was scheduled for a nationwide release, but respectable given its limited release.

At least Rory Bruer, Sony’s president of worldwide distribution, is pleased with the haul. “While this is a completely unprecedented circumstance without proper comparisons, we are very pleased with how it is doing both theatrically where we are seeing numerous sell-outs across the country, and online where it remains at the top of many charts,” Bruer said. “Most gratifying of all is hearing how people banded together to watch the film and have a good time.” Online, the film takes in another $15 million.

Jan. 5: Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai addresses the hack attack for the first time at CES.

Newest Innovations In Consumer Technology On Display At 2014 International CES“I have to say freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of association, are important lifelines of Sony and our entertainment business,” Hirai said during his keynote address. He went on to praise the studio for releasing “The Interview.”

Jan. 7: Hirai appears at the Culver City lot of Sony Pictures Entertainment, telling executives and employees in a memo that the company would emerge from the cyberattack “stronger than ever.” Notably absent from Hirai’s memo: Any mention of Pascal or Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton.

Feb. 4: Pascal appears at the African American Film Critics Association Awards in Hollywood, appearing, as one individual said, “a bit manic.” Another witness added that Pascal was behaving “erratically.”

Honoring @stephanieallain at the #AAFCA Awards. #BlackHollywood. Great intro from #AmyPascal, president Sony-Pictures.

A photo posted by Walter M. Reynolds Jr. (@waltermreynoldsjr) on

Feb. 5: Pascal announces her resignation as Sony Pictures Entertainment co-chairman and chairman of the Motion Pictures Group, though she will segue into launching a production venture with the studio in May.

“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,” Pascal says of the move.