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.
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.”
Legendary Pictures boss Thomas Tull said today that he expects to have a decision in “the next 60 days, the end of the summer” on whether his company will renew its production deal with Warner Bros or move to another studio. “We’re going through a process and we’re talking to everyone, including [Warner Bros]; it’s a process that is big in scope,” Tull said diplomatically during a show-and-tell media session in Hollywood. “If we end up staying with them, great. If it turns out it’s time for a new chapter, I will be grateful for our time with them”. As for a prospective new home, Tull said: “We’ve got it down to a handful, but I don’t want to disrespect anyone by saying who yet.” Tull and Legendary have been with Warner Bros for 10 years, teaming on such lucrative pics as Christopher Nolan’s Batman franchise, The Hangover movies and the latest Superman reboot Man Of Steel. Tull indicated that regardless of the outcome, the company wanted more independence. “Developing and owning our own stuff has been part of our plan for a while,” the Legendary CEO said.
Thomas Tull just bought himself a fully functioning in-house marketing division. Legendary Pictures announced today that they’ve acquired strategic marketers FIVE33. The LA and London-based company will become incorporated into Legendary. The companies became acquainted earlier this year as FIVE33 were brought on board for marketing on Legendary’s Pacific Rim and the still in production Godzilla. Here’s the release:
Burbank, CA – May 16, 2013 – Legendary Entertainment has announced an agreement to purchase FIVE33, a global marketing company that specializes in developing innovative marketing programs to bring immersive awareness of tentpole movies and intellectual properties to audiences around the world. Through this deal, FIVE33 will now work exclusively with Legendary and its high-profile stable of filmmakers and storytellers to drive awareness of the studio’s brand and suite of properties via worldwide campaigns and multi-platform strategies. The announcement was made by Legendary President and Chief Creative Officer, Jon Jashni and FIVE33 CEO and Founder, Emily Castel.
Jackie Robinson Biopic ’42′ Screening At White House Tonight; Harrison Ford & Thomas Tull In Attendance
Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros’ story of the man who broke pro baseball’s color barrier is headed to the White House. President Obama will host the producers, crew and stars of 42 for a screening at 5:35 PM ET in the Executive Mansion’s Private Theatre. Legendary boss Thomas Tull, director Brian Helgeland, and stars Harrison Ford and Chadwick Boseman will be in attendance. Boseman plays Jackie Robinson in the film, which tells his life story and of his signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. Ford plays Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey. Robinson’s widow Rachel Robinson will also be at the screening tonight. Robinson, Tull and the cast joined First Lady Michelle Obama earlier today at an interactive student workshop at the White House looking at the legacy of the legendary ballplayer. 42 opens April 12.
Comic-Con Q&A: Guillermo Del Toro On ‘Pacific Rim,’ Japanese Movie Monsters, Lessons Learned From ‘The Hobbit’ & ‘At The Mountains Of Madness’
There is no chance the Comic-Con crowd will have forgotten him, but Guillermo Del Toro’s last directorial effort was a Hellboy sequel released in 2008. In the four years since, he collaborated on the scripts for two installments of …
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.
EXCLUSIVE: More rich Hollywood boys and their toys besides Jerry Bruckheimer and pro hockey, and Peter Guber and pro basketball, and others. … Now the local San Diego media is reporting that Legendary Entertainment Chairman/CEO Thomas Tull is making a bid for the Padres baseball team. Today, San Diego Padres Hall of Fame outfielder and hometown hero Tony Gwynn — now head baseball coach at SDSU — publicly endorsed Tull to the local media. [UPDATE: Hall Of Famer Tony Gwynn is joining Tull's group in the bidding, according to Gwynn's agent John Boggs. Gwynn played for the Padres his entire 20-season big league career and is currently a baseball coach at his alma mater, San Diego State. The AP says that Gwynn met with Tull last week, according to Boggs.] Tull is one of 5 potential bidders for the team, but my sources say the vetting has narrowed to just 3 contenders — and Tull is among that select group. They want to buy the 51% share of the baseball team which current Padres Chairman John Moores is selling as the result of a divorce.
EXCLUSIVE: Peter Loehr is in demand after Deadline first announced he’s leaving CAA’s Beijing office. Last week we reported that Loehr might be joining Bruno Wu’s new $800M film fund and that’s still possible. But the newest development is that Thomas Tull has made Loehr an offer to run Legendary East. Loehr had been head of CAA’s Beijing office since it opened in 2005. He has been in talks to join Bruno Wu, the Chinese entrepreneur who last month unveiled a plan to raise $800 million in equity financing to make English-language pictures under the banner of the Harvest Seven Stars Media Fund. The fund is being advised by CAA and I hear the agency really wants Loehr to take the job. Meanwhile, Thomas Tull who runs Legendary Pictures is about to relaunch Legendary East with a new structure and new financing after its proposed partner Paul Y Engineering put its $220.5 million investment in the venture on hold in late December 2011. No deal is yet in place for Loehr, who is in demand because he’s a rarity: an experienced film guy who lives in China and has been part of the production community for a long time. Loehr established the country’s first independent film studio, Imar Film, in 1997, before opening CAA’s China outpost.
UPDATE: Legendary East released the following statement: “The goal is to relaunch a placing exercise in 2012. Legendary East will issue a formal announcement when the new structure and transaction is solidified.”
PREVIOUS: Legendary East’s proposed partner Paul Y Engineering has put its $220.5 million investment in the venture on hold. The Hong Kong construction company said it had been unable to raise the necessary funds in a share sale to investors ahead of the year-end deadline. PYE chairman Ir James Chiu maintained that the placement had received “a positive and substantial response,” but said “we anticipate that under the current difficult environment of the capital markets the placing will not be able to close before the long stop date, being 31 December 2011.” Thomas Tull unveiled Legendary East in June in partnership with China’s Huayi Brothers and with plans to co-produce English-language features and related content for a worldwide audience. In August, publicly-traded PYE emerged as an investor saying it would raise the $220.5 million by issuing new shares in Hong Kong. Under that deal, PYE was to have owned 50% of Legendary East. PYE says it hasn’t entirely thrown in the towel, however, indicating in a press release that the joint venture parties may continue to discuss options to modify the structure of the deal and relaunch a placement in 2012. In August it was announced that Ed Zwick’s The Great Wall would be the first film under the Legendary East banner. Below is the PYE release.
PYI and Paul Y. Engineering Announce Lapse of Film Joint Venture Investment
(29 December 2011, Hong Kong) – Bulk cargo port and infrastructure group PYI Corporation Limited (“PYI”, 0498.HK) and its subsidiary, Paul Y. Engineering Group Limited (“PYE”, 0577.HK) announced the Independent Placing Agreement, the AID Subscription Agreement and the Legendary East Subscription Agreement, each as entered into by PYE, will lapse or be terminated with effect from the long stop date of 31 December 2011. Accordingly, the Distribution in Specie (or the Cash Alternative) and the Cash Dividend (or the Scrip Alternative) will no longer proceed as they are conditional on completion of the Placing on or before 31 December 2011.
PYE will remain in its present form and its shares should trade on the same basis as they did prior to the joint announcement dated 21 August 2011. PYE will not, at this stage, be investing any cash in Legendary East Ltd. (“Legendary East”) However, some or all of the parties to the Joint Venture Agreements may continue, in the near term, to discuss potential changes to the transaction structure with a view to agreeing upon prospective terms for a modified film joint venture, with the goal of relaunching a placing exercise in 2012. Both PYE and PYI will make further announcements if such changes are agreed and will likely seek fresh approvals from their respective shareholders on any new transactions.
The move to add former Procter & Gamble president, chairman and CEO A.G. Lafley to its board of directors is the latest significant one for Thomas Tull’s Legendary Entertainment, which has been ramping up in all areas as part of its evolution from a co-financier of Warner Bros films to an enterprise generating its own films released by Warner Bros. The company has also recently branched into TV and comics, and it formed the stand-alone company Legendary East, which is based in Beijing and Hong Kong and will create content for the global marketplace. Most recently, Legendary promoted Jon Jashni to president. Lafley joins Tull, Jim Breyer, Larry Clark, Dick Cook and Joe Roth on the company’s board. Here’s today’s release: