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Legendary Splits from WB


C'mon Son
Oct 29, 2008
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While Legendary Entertainment’s Thomas Tull is still talking to multiple studios about a new distribution and potential co-financing deal for its movies, Warner Bros. isn’t among them. Tull is set to end his production company’s eight-year partnership with the studio as their contract comes to an end.

Legendary and Warner Bros. have opted to part ways rather than continue discussions about extending their deal, sources close to both parties confirm to Variety.

The decision now enables Tull to move forward with more serious talks with the three interested studios looking to lure Legendary to their lots: Universal, Sony and Fox.

Legendary’s goal is to have a new deal in place before the July 4th weekend, according to multiple sources, with Tull saying any studio it decides to partner with would have to agree to “help fulfill the grand vision” he has to build a larger entertainment company that produces not just films, but TV shows, digital content and publishes comicbooks that appeal to fans of genre fare.

SEE ALSO: Legendary Pictures, Warner Bros. Likely to Split

Talks are said to be moving further along with NBCUniversal, but there is still another meeting set with Fox. That said, at this point Universal seems to be the frontrunner for the studio that offers the best fit for Legendary movies. Company’s theme parks could easily house attractions based on Legendary’s upcoming pics that it’s producing and financing mostly on its own. NBC’s various TV channels would also serve as a good home for TV shows it develops under former Warner Bros. Television chief Bruce Rosenblum, who joined Legendary as president of TV and digital media this month. And Universal is open to new franchises after its “Fast & Furious” films and toons from Illumination Entertainment have scored at the box office.

Universal has a fourth “Jurassic Park” planned for summer 2015. Studio could also use a source for new coin after outside production funding from hedge fund Elliott Management dries up at the end of the year. Legendary also provides Universal with an open door into China, through a three-year co-production pact with China Film Group.

Timing is key for Legendary as it looks to broker a new pact. Tull’s company has a lot riding on the success of Guillermo del Toro’s “Pacific Rim,” a more than $200 million-budgeted tentpole, which is facing some hurdles in exciting moviegoers before its July 12 release despite getting a major promotional push since last summer’s Comic-Con in San Diego.

Early tracking for the film is so far disappointing with audiences showing more interest in Sony Pictures’ sequel “Grown Ups 2,” which also opens that weekend. Some are comparing “Pacific Rim” to to Saban’s “Power Rangers” kids franchise or Japanese anime. As a result, expect a last-minute marketing blitz from distributor and 25% investor Warner Bros. to try to turn around those numbers. While the studio is advancing the film’s P&A costs, it risks losing a lot of money if the movie does not perform.

“Pacific Rim” is the first of several big budget tentpoles that Legendary is looking to produce as it attempts to develoop a slate of films it mostly owns. It covered 75% of the costs on “Pacific Rim” and next summer’s “Godzilla,” for example. Its upcoming program includes “300: Rise of an Empire” (which just had its released date moved back to next March from August)’ fantasy pic “Seventh Son;” an untitled cyberthriller starring Chris Hemsworth that Michael Mann is helming; videogame adaptation “Warcraft;” thriller “As Above So Below;” and supernatural actioner “Spectral.”

“We want to grow to a size and want to control as much of our destiny as much as possible,” Tull said at a recent press presentation.

To that end, Tull has been making some innovative moves.

May was a big month for the company, with Legendary announcing it bought marketing shop FIVE33; and brokered a three-year co-production agreement with Beijing-based Legendary East and China Film Co. That markedthe first time the state-backed film venture has inked a long-term, multi-picture production deal with a Chinese or international partner.

In June, Tull hired Rosenblum to run Legendary’s TV division, and tapped former EA Sports executive Christopher Erb to serve as executive VP of brand marketing to focus on growing the company’s brand identity with fanboys and general moviegoers.

Late last year, it rased $443 million in equity through investment firm Waddell and Reed, bringing Legendary’s total capital raised in 2012 to $720 million. At the time, the company said much of the money would be put toward financing its publishing, digital, merchandising and television ventures.

In his media presentation last week, Tull said the company would decide whether to re-up with Warner Bros. or leave for another studio within 60 days, or by the end of the summer.

But during that same meeting, Tull essentially was already bidding farewell to Warner Bros., saying that the two companies are in very different position from when they first paired up in 2005 to co-finance and co-produce tentpoles. Since then the relationship has resulted in films like Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, “The Hangover” franchise, two Superman movies, a reboot of “Clash of the Titans” and its sequel, and “300.”

Legendary and Warner became bedfellows at a time when the Burbank studio needed money to bankroll its slate of tentpoles and Tull had a lot of it to offer. For Tull, a Warner partnership offered him the opportunity to make the kind of films he wanted to see as a fan boy of superhero, sci-fi, fantasy fare. The first movies two he backed were big screen reboots of Batman and Superman.

Helping Tull make the decision to leave was DC Entertainment.

In addition to new leadership at the studio under the helm of CEO Kevin Tsujihara, Warner Bros. is looking to take more control over films based on DC’s superheroes and not offer the projects up to co-financiers the way it let Legendary back Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, “Superman Returns” and “Man of Steel.” Legendary benefited from the success of those hits since it paid for half of their production costs.

Moving forward, however, Warner Bros. would prefer to treat DC titles like its “Harry Potter” franchise (which it funded fully on its own and shared profits with author J.K. Rowling) and own more of the films in order to reap the rewards when they take off at the box office. “Man of Steel” has earned $398 million since June 14, and the Batman films raked in $2.5 billion.

“Whether we’re there or not, they have a bright future,” Tull said of Warner Bros. “We will continue to be friends…I’m going to be grateful for the time we had,” Tull added. “We wouldn’t be where we are without Warner Bros.”
This doesn't bode very well for the Pacific Rim franchise. :csad:
Im really surprised it's not tracking well. I mean giant robots vs aliens...
Grown Ups 2 is tracking better than it...:barf:
Thanks guys, I'm a dolt for only skimming the article.

As I said in the Rim thread, WWZ wasn't tracking well either and it blew past those tracking numbers. There is still time for Rim to get it's marketing together and surprise.
I think the marketing campaign has been weak at points. I mean we on the internet know all about it and are pumped, but what about more casual moviegoers?

To them, something like Grown-Ups has more appeal. Oh well :( .

End of an era with WB/Legendary.
Legendary has been very good to WB, and now with the departure of their president still fresh, this is another blow to the company imo.
For their big tentpole movies now, it would be weird not seeing a Legendary logo right after WB one. Its like I expect it during the opening.
I wonder what this means for World of Warcraft in 2015...

Same as for World of Warcraft in 2009, 2010, 2011, etc.

I'll only believe that movie is happening when I'm actually sitting in a theater watching it.
Wow...end of an era. I wish them the best of luck.

And agreed about World of Warcraft, until I see a trailer I don't believe its gonna happen any time soon.
It would be crazy if Legendary somehow ended up with Disney.

Same as for World of Warcraft in 2009, 2010, 2011, etc.

I'll only believe that movie is happening when I'm actually sitting in a theater watching it.

Yeah, not looking too bright for Warcraft.
I don't know if this ends up being a good for WB, specifically DC movies (I'll get to more on that). Legendary was a huge part of WB's success, especially non-superhero/comic book hits like The Hangover, The Town and Where the Wild Things Are. They were WB's most reliable and consistent production company.

Now this could bode even worse for DC, who's only non Legendary DC movie since Batman Robin has been Green Lantern. Geoff Johns is still in charge and while I will say blame should go all around, if I had to blame one guy for Green Lantern, it's Johns for pretty much forcing elements of his Green Lanterns stories into movie when it did not fit the screenplay at all.
This was bound to happen and Thomas Tull made up his mind a long before this departure, starting with his conflict with WB on the Dark Knight Rises's BO %.

This is why Legendary fired those TWO in-house WB producers from Warners, and replaced them with Mary Parent, who is also producing 'Pac Rim'. Legendary knew they wanted out and wanted to keep their IPs if possible without any WB baggage. So if Legendary goes, so does Pac Rim and possibly Godzilla.

And while you may snicker at 'Warcraft', Thomas Tull hired Duncan Jones and they're fast tracking that thing, hopefully with more announcements to come. I think Tull means business and he's in the business to move projects faster than ever. Hell, even I never thought we would see 'Godzilla' move so quickly. So 'Warcraft' is out of WB too, and why WB picked up the 'Dungeons & Dragons' property for themselves. The problem is, D&D ain't no Warcraft.

Speculation: ME thinks that the departure of Jeff Robinov, which is both good (he's apparently difficult and cold to talk to) and bad (he has good relationships with directors like Nolan) is a last ditch effort to keep Legendary at WB, since Robinov has been critical of Tull's practices, etc. That's why the new WB CEO was so cold towards Robinov, even in the light of 'Man of Steel's success.
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So you're saying getting rid of Robinov was for naught since Legendary is leaving anyways?
Kinda. It looks like that. So what do they have now? They have a new WB CEO, and now that's it. Legendary is gone; and Cuaron's and Nolan's buddy Robinov is gone.

BUT..if you look at some of the future WB projects without Legendary, I think the new CEO is pretty broad. He wants to reach out to all genres, including buying out some indie dramas:

-Jupiter Ascending
-All You Need is Kill
-The Lego Movie
-Inherent Vice

To me, the movies listed above are fairly ambitious and could be critical/BO darlings.
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Of Fox, Universal, and Sony. Which one would Pacific Rim be in good hands with? Should a sequel ever be greenlit?
I think Universal would be the most hungry. They lack enough franchises, besides Fast/Furious and Jurassic Park. Also, Del Toro has a relationship with Universal so that can help.
Well FOX does have a history of hating giant robots.
A sequel? I'm just hoping Pacific Rim doesn't bomb.
Well FOX does have a history of hating giant robots.

Fox is okay if they are regulated by the right producers and production companies. For example, Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed is with Fox but Fox has no say in the creative end; just distribution.

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