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Comic-Con: Legendary Unveils Glimpse Of New King Kong Pic ‘Skull Island’

By | Saturday July 26, 2014 @ 1:35pm PDT

Comic-Con: Legendary Unveils Glimpse Of New King Kong Pic ‘Skull Island’Legendary Entertainment packed its film panel today with plenty of monsters (Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan and King Ghidorah), but a small teaser at the end of the Hall H event today glimpsed an unexpected one: King Kong. It was Legendary’s way of unveiling that it will be making a feature film based on King Kong’s home Skull Island. That film will be released November 4, 2016. The teaser video did the trick, showing first person POV soaring over dark and stormy seas into an island — Skull Island — where King Kong stands tall and roars.

From the studio’s post-panel release: “Previous works have touched on the island, but staying and exploring this mysterious and dangerous place offers Legendary the opportunity to take audiences deeper inside this rich world with a style and scope that parallels other Legendary productions.”

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Comic-Con: Gareth Edwards To Direct ‘Godzilla 2′ After ‘Star Wars’, With Familiar Foes In Sequel

By | Saturday July 26, 2014 @ 12:45pm PDT
Mike Fleming

Comic-Con: Gareth Edwards To Direct ‘Godzilla 2′ After ‘Star Wars’, With Familiar Foes In SequelLegendary‘s Thomas Tull has just made it official at his Comic-Con panel: Gareth Edwards appeared via video announcing Godzilla 2. As for timing, he will direct it after helming the Star Wars spinoff stand-alone film that Disney has dated for December 16, 2016. They also disclosed Mothra, Rodan and Ghidorah would be part of it, and the clip ended with “Let them fight.”

RELATED: Godzilla Sequel in the Works

Edwards came to Comic-Con last year with the kaiju reboot which went on to be a hit for Legendary, and in the video message sent today “from a galaxy far, far away” he said he’ll return for Godzilla 2 after shooting his Star Wars pic. “We get to make another one,” he said. “I’m just up here doing a small little sci-fi movie, as soon as that’s over will be Godzilla 2.”

Tull said familiar Godzilla monster baddies Rodan, Mothra, and Ghidorah will appear in the next installment. “Toho’s been great to us and now we have more monsters to play with,” he said.

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YouTube Space LA Now Crossover Central As Online Meets Film, TV Projects

By | Tuesday June 17, 2014 @ 5:18pm PDT

YouTube Space LA Now Crossover Central As Online Meets Film, TV ProjectsThe all-comers creative space that YouTube has built in a mammoth former Hughes Aircraft hangar in L.A.’s Playa Vista neighborhood is rapidly becoming Crossover Central, as notable YouTube video creators based there work with studios and networks to create online companions to bigger media brands such as Star Wars, Godzilla and now BBC America‘s Almost Royal catfish-out-of-water reality series. The Star Wars project was relatively small, based around the annual May 4 (“May the Fourth be with you”) celebrations of that durable franchise, using a replica of the famous cantina scene in the original film. The YouTube operation helped Star Wars marketers pick four YouTube creators, who got to shoot episodes of their respective programs on the Cantina set.

Deadline Marketing Column Logo David BloomA similar but much bigger effort this spring at the YouTube Space LA involved Godzilla in a cross-media project of a scale worthy of its gargantuan namesake. Legendary Film marketing execs came up with the idea of bringing in an actual set from the latest installment, a command bunker, then got sign-off from partners Warner Bros and YouTube in just a couple of weeks. The set, along with a destructible version of the San Francisco skyline, was installed in the YouTube Space LA studios. Legendary and Warner Bros chose 30 programming proposals from about 100 video creators recruited by YouTube, then set them loose on the set, said Legendary’s Pearl Wible. The ones chosen were pulled from many different sectors of YouTube content, ranging from Michelle Phan‘s beauty advice (Godzilla really, really could use some good moisturizer, now that I think of it) to Nerdist (which did a series of “Godzilla Week” segments tied to the film’s run-up) to hard science. Read More »

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IMAX, Legendary, Universal Enter Multi-Picture Deal Through 2017

IMAX-logo__120222154733-200x105__130708183958IMAX, Legendary Entertainment and Universal Pictures are expanding their relationships with a new pact to release up to 15 of the studios’ films in IMAX theaters through 2017. Under the agreement, IMAX will be part of Universal and Legendary’s release strategy for such live-action tentpoles as Dracula Untold (October 2014), Seventh Son (February 2015), Fast & Furious 7 (April 2015), Jurassic World (June 2015), Everest (September 2015), Crimson Peak (October 2015) and Warcraft (March 2016). This is the first multi-picture deal IMAX has made with both studios. It has released recent Universal pics Despicable Me 2, Les Misérables and The Bourne Legacy in the format as well as Legendary’s Godzilla, although that film went through Warner Bros, pre-dating Legendary’s five-year deal with Universal. Read More »

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Legendary Ups Trio Of Production Execs

By | Thursday May 8, 2014 @ 11:35am PDT

AG Headshot croppedLegendary Entertainment has promoted three within its ranks following the productions of recent pics 42, Pacific Rim, 300: Rise Of An Empire, and this month’s Godzilla reboot. Alex Garcia has been named EVP of Production after five years with the company. He exec produced Godzilla and Jack the Giant Killer and is overseeing development of Legendary’s Mass Effect movie adaptation. Jillian ShareAlex Hedlund headshot 2Jillian Share has been promoted to SVP of Production from her most recent VP post, which she assumed in 2011. She’s currently exec producing Warcraft and Crimson Peak. Alex Hedlund has been boosted to VP of Production after serving as a creative exec since 2011, and Director of Creative Affairs in 2011. All three will continue to report to Legendary President/CCO Jon Jashni.

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Paramount Hires Legendary Entertainment Marketing Exec Joel Chiodi

By | Friday December 20, 2013 @ 10:40am PST

ParamountLogo_newJoel Chiodi, formerly EVP Marketing at Legendary Entertainment, has been tapped as SVP Worldwide Marketing Partnerships at Paramount Pictures. He will report to LeeAnne Stables, Paroumount’s president of Consumer Products and EVP Worldwide Marketing Partnerships, and will be tasked with managing production of all creative elements supporting Paramount’s global promotion and licensing partner campaigns. Stables and Chiodi worked together when both were at E! Entertainment. Chiodi was hired in 2011 at Legendary coming from the NFL Network. He worked on such Legendary projects as Pacific Rim, 42 and the upcoming Godzilla and Warcraft, and liaised with then production-finance partner Warner Bros on The Dark Knight, the Hangover pics and 300 among other pics. In May, Legendary acquired movie marketing company Five33 to create his own in-house division under Five33 CEO and founder Emily Castel and moved its operation to NBCUniversal a couple of months later. Sister pub Variety noted first yesterday that Chiodi’s move was coming.

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Thomas Tull Tapped For Baseball Hall Of Fame Board

By | Thursday December 19, 2013 @ 10:24am PST

Only fitting that the producer of the Jackie Robinson biopicthomastull1 42 be elected to the board of directors for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. The Legendary Entertainment chairman and CEO becomes the 16th member of the board for the non-profit educational institution, the organization announced today. 42, the story of the man who broke pro baseball’s color barrier, screened at the White House earlier this year. Here’s today’s release: Read More »

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UPDATE: Legendary Acquires Asylum Entertainment For More Than $100 Million

By | Tuesday December 10, 2013 @ 3:00pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

UPDATE TUESDAY: While no side is discussing finlegendaryancials, I’ve learned more about the size of the deal, in which Legendary Entertainment acquired Asylum. I hear that Legendary ended up paying about eight times what Asylum is projected to make in terms of profits in 2014, which comes to a price tag just north of $100 million. Asylum is set to clear $12-$13 million next year, about three times what the company made in profits this year, as its balance sheet will asylumlogobe bolstered by the one-year output deal Asylum recently inked with ReelzChannel to deliver 50 hours of unscripted programming for the network in 2014, distributed over 10 series. While 8x multiple is within the range for a high-end deal, I hear Asylum’s decision to go with Legendary vs. the other suitors bidding for it came down to the plans Legendary had for the company’s future. In anticipation of the sale, Asylum has been aggressively staffing up in the last couple of months, hiring Stephanie Lydecker as SVP of Development to oversee unscripted development and Joan Harrison as SVP Scripted Programming & Development to oversee miniseries and limited series, as well as signing a pod deal with reality producer Sean Travis.

PREVIOUS MONDAY: In its first company acquisition on the TV side, in a competitive situation Legendary Entertainment has bought 100% of TV production company Asylum Entertainment, producer of The Kennedys miniseries. Asylum will be part of Legendary Television & Digital Media. While Legendary Television will remains focused on producing Legendary-branded scripted content, Asylum will serve as a production label for non-scripted, long-form, sports and other genres. Asylum will continue to operate as an independent company run by its founders, president and CEO Steve Michaels and president and chief creative officer Jonathan Koch, who will report to Bruce Rosenblum, President of Legendary Television and Digital Media. Read More »

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Thomas Lesinski Named President Of Content & Distribution At Legendary Digital Media

By | Monday September 16, 2013 @ 4:13pm PDT

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 »

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Joe Roth Leaving Legendary’s Board Of Directors

By | Thursday September 12, 2013 @ 4:54pm PDT

After serving just over two years, Joe Roth is stepping down from the board of Legendary Entertainment effective September 25, the company announced today. Roth’s departure comes out of a potential governance conflict that he and the company saw could arise from him holding a position on Legendary’s board of directors and as a producer on Legendary Pictures’ upcoming Brilliance and Hot Wheels pics. Roth joined Legendary’s board in June 2011. The Revolution Studios head’s replacement on the board later this month will be Tom Werner, co-founder of That 70s Show producers Carsey Werner and Chair of the Boston Red Sox and Liverpool Football Club. Besides Tull and soon Werner, the other members of Legendary’s board are former Walt Disney Studios Chairman Dick Cook, venture capitalist Jim Breyer and Procter & Gamble CEO and Chairman AG Laffley.

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Universal’s ‘Dracula: Year Zero’ Could Be First On Legendary’s To-Do List

By | Thursday August 29, 2013 @ 4:52pm PDT

Universal and its new co-production/co-finance partner Legendary Entertainment are in serious discussions about Thomas Tull’s company coming aboard Dracula: Year Zero, the origin pic that has Gary Shore aboard to direct and Luke Evans starring as the immortal bloodsucker from Bram Stoker’s iconic novel. It would be Legendary’s first project since the Batman-Hangover-Pacific Rim-Godzilla producer-financier inked a wide-ranging deal in July with NBCUniversal after leaving longtime home Warner Bros. Tull’s company made its name at Warners with big-budget genre fare, so Dracula seems a good fit. Universal has already set an August 8, 2014 release date for the bloodsucker pic so there’s little time to waste. Dominic Cooper and Zach McGowan star in the movie, which Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless wrote and Michael De Luca and Alissa Phillips are producing. Variety first reported the talks. Before its current incarnation, the Dracula project was close to a production start with Sam Worthington starring and Alex Proyas directing, only to see Universal close the coffin because the budget was too high. Proyas eventually left to direct Paradise Lost, which had its plug pulled coincidentally by Legendary Pictures over high costs.

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It’s Official: Legendary Partners With NBCU In 5-Year Deal Starting In 2014

By | Wednesday July 10, 2013 @ 9:05am PDT

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:

Related: TOLDJA! Legendary Moves To NBCU With Multiyear Deal

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.

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TOLDJA! Legendary Moves To NBCU With Multiyear Film And TV Deal

As Deadline’s Nikki Finke reported on July 6, Legendary Entertainment has set up a new partnership with NBCUniversal. While nothing formal has been announced, sources say the multiyear film/television financial, distribution, marketing, and production deal will start in 2014. After various meetings over the past few months, the deal was negotiated primarily by Universal prez Jimmy Horowitz, Legendary’s Thomas Tull and Comcast No. 2 Steve Burke. With the split from Warner Bros now complete, Legendary and the studio still have to share a stage down at Comic-Con next week promoting Godzilla and Seventh Son. Legendary and WB also have the Guillermo del Toro-directed Pacific Rim coming out on Friday; its premiere is tonight in Hollywood. Meanwhile, Warner Bros is working on a $450M-plus slate financing deal with Dune Entertainment that would be majority funded by Brett Ratner and James Packer’s RatPac Entertainment.
Universal’s Year-Long Turnaround Shows Movie Business’ Cyclical Nature

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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 Bros’ slate financing deal that involves Dune Entertainment. We’re told RatPac would contribute 75% to whatever the final total might be should such a deal be struck. Ratner and Packer launched RatPac in December looking to produce and finance independent films and co-finance “blockbusters” with studio partners. Packer is personally backing the film development, production and finance company. “We intend to build a major independent film company which not only has the ability to fully finance its films, but which also offers creative independence for its filmmakers,” Ratner said at the time. We’re also hearing negotiations are moving quickly on the Warners-Dune-RatPac front, and a deal could be announced in two weeks.

PREVIOUS, 12:11 PM: Deadline’s Nikki Finke had already reported that if Legendary Entertainment‘s Thomas Tull did not strike a deal to remain at Warner Bros, the studio would either rely more on its straight financing partner Village Roadshow — or it could take on a slate deal like the one Dune Entertainment had at Fox. Well now it seems that an actual Dune option has moved up on the menu: According to sources, the studio is engaged in negotiations on a big financing deal … Read More »

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Legendary “Likely” To Select NBCU This Week For Big New Showbiz Partnership

EXCLUSIVE: I’ve learned that Legendary Entertainment‘s Thomas Tull could announce his selection of a new film/television financial, distribution, marketing, and production partnership as early as this week after kicking tires all over Hollywood. And insiders tell me that Comcast is his choice barring some last-minute over-the-top offer from a rival media giant. “NBCUniversal has been the likely candidate from the beginning. And it will likely happen momentarily,” one source tells me. The general concensus on both sides, according to insiders, is that “it would be a really good fit” because of Tull’s appetite for a so-called ’360 media’ deal involving films, television, parks, and digital. Says another: ”They’re in the end game. But Sony or another studio may still overpay – and that’s the problem.” I hear Tull, 43, and the Universal team already have a rapport. I reported last month that Tull had met twice with NBCUniversal chief and Comcast #2 Steve Burke over at NBCU. Then I reported that Legendary was adding Lionsgate to the mix of suitors NBCU, Sony, Fox, and Warner Bros. Now Tull would be wise to make the selection before Warner Bros opens his Pacific Rim next weekend because the $190M scifi actioner is tracking poorly - no better than mid-$30M for its 3-day opening.  Also Legendary has big plans for Comic-Con this month. Meanwhile, Universal’s selection would cap a very profitable filmmaking year.

Few partnerships in recent memory have received as much advance publicity as this one … Read More »

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EXCLUSIVE: Legendary And Lionsgate To Meet This Week; Details On What Tull Wants

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.” Read More »

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Legendary- NBCU? Thomas Tull Has Met Twice With Steve Burke But 4 Studios Still In This

EXCLUSIVE: There’s about to be a media frenzy among reporters who don’t know how Hollywood deals work. I’ve learned that Legendary Entertainment boss Thomas Tull is still talking to 4 studios – NBCU, Fox, Sony, and Warner Bros where his movie deal is based. (Paramount and Disney respectfully declined.) But Tull has met with NBCUniversal chief and Comcast #2 Steve Burke twice and that’s signaling to insiders that NBCU has moved into 1st position and that a pairing might be imminent. Of course, such deals can take months of painstaking negotiations and Tull himself has said he’ll make up his mind within 60 days. But “Tull is known to push bankers and lawyers out of the room when he wants something and to move pretty quickly,” an insider tells me. “The real issue is how long it’ll take to get through Comcast/NBCU’s layers.” Now that ousted Warner Bros television chief has joined Legendary, Tull now is looking for “an even more all-encompassing deal to leverage his IP” than previously, one that includes both television as well as movies, a source tells me. MORE

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Bruce Rosenblum Joins Legendary As President Of Television & Digital Media

By | Monday June 17, 2013 @ 7:55am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

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 set up a business model for Legendary’s expansion into television and digital as it plans to produce programming across linear and non-linear “on-demand” platforms globally and pursue global digital distribution of its content for broadband, mobile and emerging technologies. The division will function autonomously, without the backing of a studio as Legendary, a well-capitalized company valued at $3 billion, mulls its next move as its partnership with Warner Bros on the feature side is up at the end of the year.

This represents a much bigger and more ambitious foray into television than Legendary’s first entry into the space in 2011, when the company launched a TV division in conjunction with a development/production deal at Warner Bros Television, the TV studio which was under Rosenblum’s purview. A year and a half later, Legendary opted to proactively end the deal and dissolve the TV division headed by Jeremy Elice, with sources citing Legendary management’s reservations towards the traditional TV development model, which they felt was not for the company, which tends to produce content in non-traditional ways. At the time, Legendary did not shut the door completely and … Read More »

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Legendary Entertainment Names Christopher Erb EVP Brand Marketing

By | Wednesday June 12, 2013 @ 2:22pm PDT

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.

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