Amy Pascal has been promoted to chairwoman of Columbia Pictures after having served as president of the Sony-owned studio for the last three years.
Pascal becomes the third woman in Hollywood to hold that title in the movie industry, along with Paramount Pictures chief Sherry Lansing and Universal Pictures' Stacey Snider.
Unlike Lansing and Snider, however, Pascal, 41, does not oversee marketing and distribution. Those divisions continue to report to Pascal's boss, Sony Pictures Entertainment Chairman John Calley.
Pascal, who just signed a new 3 1/2-year contract, will continue to be responsible for serving up about 24 movies a year and for overseeing all of the studio's production activities.
The timing of Pascal's promotion is odd in that it comes when the studio has been suffering a prolonged dry spell at the box office, with only one blockbuster, "Big Daddy," standing out amid such flops as "Random Hearts," "The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc," "Jakob The Liar," "Crazy in Alabama" and "Muppets From Space."
The studio has a lot riding on its release Friday of the expensive family movie "Stuart Little," which cost more than $110 million to produce and is one of the costliest films Columbia has ever financed.
Pascal, one of the film's champions, says she is optimistic about the big-screen adaptation of E.B. White's popular children's book.
"I think 'Stuart Little' will be successful," Pascal predicts, acknowledging that, while she is "disappointed in the year, I think next year will be a million times better."
Pascal has high hopes for such 2000 releases as "Charlie's Angels," starring Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, Lucy Lui (due out Thanksgiving); "Patriot," a Revolutionary War action movie starring Mel Gibson, which at a cost of more than $100 million is behind schedule and still shooting (June 30 release planned); Paul Verhoeven's special-effects thriller, "The Hollow Man" (late July); and Amy Heckerling's college comedy, "The Loser."
Pascal, known for her strong relationships with writers, was instrumental in Columbia striking a precedent-setting deal this year guaranteeing screenwriters a percentage of gross receipts from the movies they write.
She joined Columbia in December 1996 after serving as head of production for now-defunct Turner Pictures for two years. Pascal helped package such hits as "Michael" and "City of Angels."
Before Turner, Pascal spent seven years as an executive at Columbia Pictures.