Only fitting that the producer of the Jackie Robinson biopic 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:
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 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 …
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.”
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
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.
EXCLUSIVE: After just more than a year in the job, Tim Connors has been let go as Chief Operating Officer of Legendary Entertainment. Sources close to situation confirmed his departure, and that the position has been phased out. As a replacement, Legendary chair and CEO Thomas Tull is said to be planning on bringing in an operations- and process-oriented exec from a Fortune 100 company to join the management team. Former Marvel Entertainment COO Connors was brought on board in February 2012 by Tull to handle day-to-day operations at the company. His brief stint included business affairs and working closely with Jon Jashni, company president and CCO. Before his four-year stint at Marvel, Connors worked in business affairs at DreamWorks SKG.
Here’s another Hollywood example of big boys and their big toys. Thomas Tull’s Legendary Pictures didn’t just co-finance The Dark Knight Rises with Warner Bros, he’s in the movie, too. The Legendary Pictures CEO shows up onscreen about halfway through Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy finale. Tull plays the owner of the fictional Gotham Rogues football team and is seen wearing a Rogues’ jersey and welcoming Gotham City Mayor Anthony Garcia (Nestor Carbonell) to the owners’ box to watch the team play. The uncredited appearance has no dialogue and is the first time Tull has appeared in one of the films he’s produced. Tull owns a minority stake of the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers whose stadium is featured in the movie as the place where the imaginary Gotham Rogues play. Tull last night held a private screening of the film in Pittsburgh for the Steelers players. A number of Steelers players, including Mike Wallace, Ben Roethlisberger, Troy Polamalu, as well as former wide receiver Hines Ward and coach Bill Cowher, appear in the scenes filmed on Heinz Field. Pittsburgh, along with LA and New York City, was one of the primary U.S. locations for Dark Knight Rises. The movie opens wide on Friday.
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 The Hobbit, but dropped out as director. Then his fully realized 3D adaptation of H. P. Lovecraft’s At The Mountains Of Madness got abruptly unplugged by Universal. Del Toro is back at Comic-Con after completing the robots vs monsters saga Pacific Rim financed by Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros. While it won’t be released until July 12, 2013, Del Toro is at Hall H today to show footage at a Warner Bros panel that also includes The Hobbit. Some in the industry have seen the early visuals and said they are stunning and they predict Del Toro will make a stirring return that was informed by his setbacks.
DEADLINE: You are finally here with a movie you directed. Describe your road here.
DEL TORO: Two years in New Zealand on The Hobbit, a year in L.A. and Canada developing Mountains. Luckily, during the year of Mountains, I started on Pacific Rim and when people ask me why I have four or five things in development, here’s the answer. …
Sources tell Deadline that the Legendary Entertainment CEO won’t be attending his own Legendary Comics panel today in San Diego. Instead Tull is attending the Allen and Co’s investment conference in Sun Valley, as one of the new moguls invited. Tull is still scheduled to attend Warner Bros’ Saturday panel at Comic-Con featuring Man Of Steel and Pacific Rim which his Legendary Pictures helped finance. Tull was supposed to appear with Matt Wagner, Max Brooks, Mark Waid, Shane Davis, Simon Bisley and Legendary Comics editor-in–chief Bob Schreck today to preview the comics division’s upcoming Tower Chronicles and Shadow Walk publications and others. Legendary Comics has a booth on the Comic-Con exhibition floor this year. Tull himself is a big comics fan and one of the co-creators of Legendary Comics’ first original property Tower Chronicles, which is scheduled to come out this fall. Chris Hardwick, whose Nerdist Industries was purchased by Legendary earlier this week as Deadline exclusively reported, hosts the 5 PM panel.
Related: No Showbiz Panel At 2012 Camp Allen
Hollywood moguls are arriving at the annual Allen & Co investment conference in Sun Valley starting today — but I don’t know why. It’ll be another non-showbiz snorefest. Because there’s not a single entertainment panel on the official schedule. Instead my sources describe sessions with names like “The New Breed” and ”The State Of Innovation” and “Into The Cloud” which features Amazon’s Jeff Bezos. Internet tycoons Barry Diller and Marc Andreessen pair up for a confab. Oprah Winfrey interviews investor Warren Buffet. The New York Times Columnist Tom Friedman moderates an energy panel, while ABC’s George Stephanopoulos moderates a politics session. There’s a ”China In Transition” confab (moderated by Tom Brokaw) as well as an “Iran & Israel” session. Former CIA director George Tenet interviews current CIA Director, General David Petraeus. Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti gets his own speaker’s slot. Brokaw also moderates a panel titled “Listen Up, Mom And Dad”. I recall when this exclusive gathering used to be fun for the entertainment bigwigs. Gone are the Friday night dildos. Or the sandwich boards for out-of-work moguls. Or the big deals hatched on the golf course or at the picnic tables. Gawd, Camp Allen isn’t worth covering anymore.
One new guest attending this year is Legendary Entertainment’s Thomas Tull. Otherwise the invited moguls are mostly usual suspects: News Corp’s Rupert Murdoch (and also his sons as well as News Corp top execs Chase Carey and Joel Klein), CBS’ Les Moonves, Time Warner’s Jeff Bewkes, Viacom’s Philippe Dauman. Also …
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.
Legendary Entertainment chief Thomas Tull tells Deadline that President Obama is hoping to drop by the set of the Jackie Robinson biopic 42 on Tuesday. The President on June 26th will be appearing at fundraisers in Atlanta, where Legendary’s film is shooting. Tulls says they’d received a call from the White House earlier this week to see if it would be OK if Obama came by. “Well, of course I said it would be OK,” said Tull, who has given $35,800 to the Obama Victory Fund 2012 so far. Details of the set visit are still being worked out. In recent campaign speeches, Obama has mentioned Robinson, who broke baseball’s color barrier, as “laying the groundwork” for an African-American to become President. Obama recently has relentlessly been hitting up Hollywood for cash.
42, which was the ball player’s uniform number, details Robinson’s 1947 rookie season with the Brooklyn Dodgers. The Brian Helgeland-directed film stars Harrison Ford as Dodgers GM Branch Rickey and Chadwick Boseman as Jackie Robinson. 42 is scheduled to be released on April 12, 2013, not long after the MLB season opener.
The last time the President was in Atlanta was on March 16 for a pair of fundraisers at supporter Tyler Perry’s film and TV studio.
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.
UPDATE: I understand that Legendary Entertainment founder/chief Thomas Tull took an extraordinary role in personally (and unusually) wheeling-dealing these 2 equity and debt financing deals. Fideltity Investments also is one of the major investors on the equity side, but Morgan Stanley was the lead on the equity side and gave upwards of $60 million. That’s a big chunk. Not only will the money be used to finance Legendary’s own slate of pictures (as opposed to the co-financing deal it has with Warner Bros), but Tull will more heavily move the company into creating intellectual property on the comics side.
BREAKING… The $275 million consists of two separate equity and debt financing deals for Thomas Tull’s Legendary Entertainment. The equity component consists of $128 million in new financing from a collection of new and existing investors. Existing Legendary equity investors who participated in this round include Jim Breyer and Breyer Capital and Accel Partners, IDG Capital Partners, and Gordy Crawford. New investors in Legendary include Morgan Stanley Investment Management, Peter Thiel’s Thiel Capital LLC, and Eric Schmidt’s Tomorrow Ventures. Additionally, Legendary simultaneously closed a new $150 million round of debt financing structured and arranged by JPMorgan, Bank of America, Royal Bank of Canada and UBS who all served as co-leads. Goldman Sachs was sole agent to Legendary in the equity financing, and Goldman Sachs Lending Partners participated in the bank financing.
Legendary will use the proceeds of these transactions to retire and refinance debt incurred in connection with Legendary’s …
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.