EXCLUSIVE: Rachel O’Connor will transition from SVP Production at Sony Pictures to run Pascal Pictures. That’s the name that the former SPE Motion Picture Group chairman will call her new label, which is just getting underway at Sony with a bunch of high-profile pictures. O’Connor has been a protege who has worked her whole career with Pascal.
O’Connor and Pascal go back 17 years, and among the movies she has shepherded as senior production executive are 2012, Zombieland, District 9, and The Amazing Spider-Man films directed by Marc Webb. O’Connor won’t have a title, but she will run both the film and television components of Pascal Pictures.
“I couldn’t be more excited to embark on this new adventure with Amy,” O’Connor said. “Amy has been a mentor and inspiration to me since I first went to work for her as a reader at Turner Pictures. I have always wanted to be a producer and the opportunity to do it at Columbia where I have grown up is a dream come true.”
Said Pascal: “I am thrilled that Rachel will be joining me at Pascal Pictures. She is truly one of the most brilliant executives working in the industry today, with impeccable taste and very strong talent relationships. There is no one I would rather start this next chapter with.”
While changes come part and parcel with any regime change, this is organic; O’Connor has been Pascal’s target to run the company since she exited the executive suites of Sony Pictures in early February. Pascal is already in the center of several high-profile projects. They include the new iteration of Ghostbusters that will be directed by Paul Feig, the relaunch of Spider-Man that she will produce with Marvel’s Kevin Feige; and Barbie, a live-action film based on the Mattel toy line that she’ll produce with Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald. That latter film has Diablo Cody doing a rewrite.
The studio, led by production president Hannah Minghella, made the first major material buy for Pascal late last week when it collared Maestra, a thriller novel by S.L. Knight. They got the drop on the book just after it was bought by a UK publisher, Bonniere, and before it went on submission to US publishers. The novel is a sexy thriller and the protagonist is an assistant at an art auction house who gets fired for identifying a forged painting. The assistant then goes on a mission that involves seducing an art dealer connected to the forgery, all in the name of learning the fraud game and interrupting the forgery deal.