After months of speculation, Sony Pictures confirmed on Thursday (Oct 2) that chairman and chief executive John Calley is stepping down after seven years in the job.

Sony said that Calley, 73, had signed a first look production deal with the studio, and that he would remain on the company's board of directors and its operating committee. The committee reports to Sony Corp of America chairman and chief executive Howard Stringer.

Columbia Pictures chair Amy Pascal, Columbia TriStar worldwide marketing and distribution president Jeff Blake and Sony Pictures digital president Yair Landau will continue to manage the studio, Sony said.

Calley's first film projects for Sony will be The Da Vinci Code - an adaptation of Dan Brown's thriller - which will reunite Imagine Entertainment director Ron Howard and producer Brian Grazer with A Beautiful Mind screenwriter Akiva Goldsman; and Closer, based on Patrick Marber's acclaimed play. Mike Nichols is tipped to direct Closer.