Legendary Television and Digital Media boss Bruce Rosenblum has made a key executive hire, tapping former Paramount digital chief Thomas Lesinski as President, Digital Content and Distribution, Legendary Digital Media. Lesinski will oversee digital content development, production and distribution, and contribute to designing, evaluating and implementing Legendary’s digital strategy. He reports to Rosenblum, who joined Legendary Entertainment to run the newly created division in June — one month after his exit as President of the Warner Bros Television Group. “Tom has a strong track-record of building innovative and entrepreneurial digital business models and brings significant experience in both traditional and new media. I look forward to his contributions as we build out Legendary’s digital strategy and platform,” Rosenblum said in announcing the hire this afternoon. READ MORE »
The worst-kept secret in town is a five-year deal that includes access to NBCUniversal‘s theme park business, something former partner Warner Bros could not provide, as well as to parent Comcast’s “Symphony” initiative that will give its projects promotional support across all of the company’s divisions. And Universal will have an inroad to China thanks to Legendary‘s recent deal with China Film Group that allows them to jointly produce tentpole films for the global market for an initial three years. Here’s today’s release:
UNIVERSAL CITY, CA, July 10, 2013 — Universal Pictures and Legendary Entertainment will enter into a multi-year film partnership in which the two companies will produce and co-finance Legendary and Universal films with Universal distributing Legendary films worldwide. Making Universal its new home enables Legendary to not only leverage the power and success of Universal’s film business and theme parks, but also the cross promotional support from NBCUniversal and Comcast assets through the company’s “Symphony” program. The announcement was made today by Universal Pictures Chairman Adam Fogelson and Co-Chairman Donna Langley and Legendary Entertainment Chairman and CEO Thomas Tull.
“Comcast and NBCUniversal’s global assets in film, television and theme parks offer Legendary unmatched breadth and opportunity to grow our business. We are delighted to be in business with this exceptional team and look forward to a successful partnership,” said Tull.
Universal and Legendary’s film partnership is a complementary arrangement for both companies. Legendary, which is known for producing and financing successful large scale films, will continue to create and finance tent pole films based on intellectual property that is uniquely appealing to the coveted fanboy audience. And Universal, which has a proven track record of turning films of all shapes and sizes into hits with special skills in growing and nourishing original franchises, will market, co-finance and distribute Legendary films for five years beginning in 2014.
UPDATE: Brett Ratner’s RatPac Could Be Lead Funder With Dune In Warner Bros’ Potential $450M-Plus Slate Deal
UPDATE, 1:45 PM: More details are emerging on this possible deal. We’re hearing that RatPac Entertainment, the tie-up of producer-director Brett Ratner and Australian media tycoon James Packer, would be the majority partner in the possible Warner …
EXCLUSIVE: I’ve learned that Legendary Entertainment‘s Thomas Tull continues kicking tires all over Hollywood right now. He’s planned a meeting for later this week with the Lionsgate team including chief Jon Feltheimer and Summit-turned-Lionsgate film co-chairman Rob Friedman who’d like to mitigate their feature film risks which worry Wall Street. “It’s an interesting choice and a new entry,” a source tells me. “He really respects Rob and Felt.” I already told you over the weekend that Tull has met twice with NBCUniversal chief and Comcast #2 Steve Burke over at NBCU and that four studios were in this bake-off. Well, now add Lionsgate. Sony is still in the running “because he loves their business and loves the Sony people and really likes Michael Lynton”. So, too, Fox because Tull “loves” Jim Gianopulos. “But if Jeff Robinov goes there it may not happen,” a source told me today. (Robinov months before he parted ways with Warner Bros told me, “My relationship with Tull is pretty good. It’s had its ups and downs. I’d like to see them stay.”) As for Warner Bros, Tull for weeks now has begun every meeting with a studio by pledging that he’s “not talking to Warner Bros and definitely intending to move on”. But the studios tell me they’re convinced that’s just a negotiating ploy and if the right deal was offered he’d stay.
So strange to hear the words ‘love’ and ‘like’ tossed around so much when describing Hollywood’s always complicated relationships. Says an insider, “Thomas is all about, ‘Who do I like?’ He likes Fox, he loves both Sony people, he loves Universal and loves Ron Meyer and the Comcast guys. He loves Alan Horn but Disney doesn’t need him.” As I’ve already reported, both Disney and Paramount respectfully passed. Remember that media frenzy I predicted? Tonight, The Hollywood Reporter erroneously reported that Tull has pared down his list to Universal and Sony — not true. Variety tonight inaccurately reported that only Universal, Sony and Fox are still in the running — also not true. Neither media outlet had a clue about the forthcoming Legendary-Lionsgate meeting.
I’ve also learned exclusively what Tull wants to offer and what he wants in return for a new deal as he makes his way around the studios. Summed up one studio mogul who heard Tull’s pitch: “His appetite is significant. It”s what he thinks Legendary is worth.” I’ve learned that Tull starts off talking conceptually — not specifics. ”Thomas is looking for a 360 media deal. He wants films, parks, TV. He wants a big partner, an even more all-encompassing deal to leverage his IP library of films, comics, and soon TV and license out the content he owns.”
But let’s get real: Tull has very little IP to speak of and the studios want Legendary mostly for what it will finance for them. After building up his war chest and closing on $720M in financing in 2011 alone and more in 2012, Tull has “has access to billions more through various revolver accounts and other levers he can pull,” a source tells me. “He did $443M of pure equity with Waddell & Reed in a monster deal in December 2012. He has equity and financing for $272M. And he has a huge cash-rich business with hit after hit after hit over the years. That’s a lot of leverage.”
Overall, Tull wants a much improved deal over his present one at Warner Bros. “He feels he was paying too high a distribution fee at Warner Bros for Pacific Rim and Godzilla which Legendary is making,” another source tells me. ”He’s paying over 10% fees for those movies. That’s high relative to what’s usually given the people who put up the money. He wants to pay 8% for the 10 to 12 films Legendary will be fully financing.”
I’ve also learned that “Tull is looking to keep certain rights for the movies he finances, like his own Netflix deals”. And that Tull “also wants a producer deal for himself so he gets compensated from the studios separate from paying a distribution deal to the studios”. For movies he’s co-financing for the studio, he wants more involvement in the development process through shooting, post-production, marketing and distribution.
Of course, Tull may love or like almost everyone atop the studios, but not everyone loves or likes him. “He’s sitting in these studio meetings pitching his track record that Legendary-associated productions had $7+B grosses worldwide at the box office,” one source tells me. “But I’m thinking, ‘Aren’t those just the movies that were offered you or weren’t offered you? Are you joking?’” Says another source: “Thomas takes credit for stuff he hasn’t generated. He has that reputation.”
A month after his exit as President of the Warner Bros Television Group, Bruce Rosenblum has joined Legendary Entertainment as President of newly launched Legendary Television and Digital Media. In his role, Rosenblum will help …
Burbank, CA – June 12, 2013 – Legendary Entertainment announced today that former EA Sports executive Christopher Erb is the new Executive Vice President of Brand Marketing. In this role the award-winning marketing veteran is charged with further growing Legendary’s autonomous brand identity across the consumer and business marketplaces. He began May 23 in the company’s Burbank headquarters, and reports to Jon Jashni, President and Chief Creative Officer of Legendary Entertainment. Erb, who will work closely with the company’s current marketing and communications teams, will also oversee all aspects of Legendary’s social media and consumer marketing campaigns. Erb will work alongside Emily Castel and her Five33 marketing team whose agency Legendary acquired earlier in May.
The deal with Waddell & Reed brings Legendary Entertainment‘s total 2012 raise to $720 million. This investment will go toward “growth and working capital across its filmed entertainment and publishing divisions” as well as digital, merchandising and TV, the company said. Here’s the release:
Burbank, CA, December 18, 2012 –Legendary Entertainment has completed an equity financing transaction with the investment management affiliates of Waddell & Reed Financial, Inc. (NYSE: WDR) totaling approximately $443 million in aggregate proceeds. The announcement was made today by Legendary’s Chairman and CEO, Thomas Tull.
Waddell & Reed Financial, Inc. is one of the oldest investment management companies in the United States and is parent company to Ivy Investment Management Company and Waddell & Reed Investment Management Company, manager to the Ivy Funds and Waddell & Reed Advisors Funds, respectively. The investment in Legendary will reside within the Ivy Asset Strategy Fund, the Waddell & Reed Advisors Asset Strategy Fund and other portfolios utilizing the same investment strategy.
Legendary plans to allocate proceeds from the transaction towards growth and working capital across its filmed entertainment and publishing divisions, and to build out further opportunities in the digital, merchandising and television sectors.
Burbank, CA, September 18, 2012 – Legendary Entertainment has promoted Marlin Prager, who has been with the Company since 2005, to Chief Financial Officer. Prior to being named CFO, Prager held the title of Senior Vice President of Finance. In his new role, Prager will be responsible for all aspects of the Company’s financial management, planning, forecasting, accounting and capital structure. He reports to Thomas Tull, Legendary’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, who made the announcement today.
2ND UPDATE 11:15 AM: Legendary just sent out the announcement that it has finalized an agreement to purchase Nerdist Industries.
EXCLUSIVE… UPDATE 9:30 AM: Legendary Entertainment heading into Comic-Con has set a new deal with multiplatform fanboy outfit Nerdist. My sources say huge comic book fan Thomas Tull will be stepping up his existing early investment in Nerdist and actually making an all-out acquisition. But co-owner Peter Levin (my pal) wouldn’t do a deal that stripped him and the other co-owner Chris Hardwick of autonomy for the editorial business. Now they will report to Legendary Entertainment COO Tim Connors. The strategy is that the addition of the Levin and Hardwick digital prowess would add more firepower to the Tull war-chest. Hardwick and Levin will continue in their current roles within Nerdist, and will also take on the roles of Co-Presidents of Legendary’s digital business with Hardwick serving as Co-President Digital Content and Levin functioning as Co-President Digital Strategy. They will work closely with Legendary’s executive management team on event management and comics-related operations. The deal calls for Nerdist to maintain complete editorial autonomy and operations, while benefitting from Legendary Entertainment’s resources and platform as the company continues to offer up quality fanboy content to audiences around the world. Nerdist was founded in 2008 by Hardwick — a comedian, author, podcaster, new media personality and AMC’s The Talking Dead host. In 2011, Nerdist and Levin’s GeekChicDaily merged to form Nerdist Industries with Hardwick serving as Founder and Chief Creative Officer while digital media entrepreneur Levin became CEO of the new company.
Marvel Studio’s Tim Connors Defects To Legendary As COO; Marvel’s Rob Steffens & David Galluzi Take On More Responsibility
I hear Marvel is fine with this move to Legendary Entertainment. Tim Connors has been there from the beginning but “it was time for him to move on,” an insider tells me. I’ve just learned exclusively that taking his place at Marvel Studios will be David Galluzzi whow as recently promoted to chief counsel and now will be assuming Connors’ business affairs role, too. And the remainder of Connors’ duties will be assumed by Rob Steffens who is EVP Of Operations And Planning for Marvel Entertainment and is General Manager of Operations And Finance for Marvel Studios. This move bolsters Steffens’ role at Disney where I hear he’s well-liked and being groomed for bigger things. None of this is in the Legendary press release below:
Burbank, CA, February 9, 2012 – Legendary Entertainment has appointed Tim Connors to the role of Chief Operating Officer for the company, it was announced today by Legendary’s Chairman and CEO, Thomas Tull. Connors, who arrives at Legendary from Marvel, will report to Tull and manage day-to-day operations for the company including business affairs working closely with President and Chief Creative Officer, Jon Jashni.
Burbank, CA, February 1, 2012 – Legendary Entertainment has promoted veteran production executive Ty Warren to Executive Vice President, Physical Production. Warren previously held the title of Senior Vice President of Production for Legendary, a role he has held since joining the company in 2011. In his new role he reports to Jon Jashni, Legendary’s President and Chief Creative Officer, who made the announcement today.
As part of his purview, Warren is supervising Legendary’s physical production of PACIFIC RIM, directed by Guillermo del Toro, SEVENTH SON, starring Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore, “42” starring Harrison Ford, 300: BATTLE OF ARTEMISIA, the upcoming WRATH OF THE TITANS, and Legendary East’s inaugural project, THE GREAT WALL, directed by Ed Zwick.