2ND UPDATE: I hear the New World Development investment in Legendary Pictures was $45 million.

UPDATE: What’s being described as the most powerful privately held family fortune in China has recently made an investment in Thomas Tull’s Legendary Pictures. It signals the start of new China business for the entertainment movie finance and production company best known for its 7-year, 40-picture deal with Warner Bros. The family company is called New World Development and among their many holdings it’s the largest landholder in China outside the government. This investment in Legendary Pictures is similar to those of Jim Breyer and Gordy Crawford previously reported. Film financing circles familiar with the investment speculate to me that Tull is eying a major move in China and expect this financial and strategic relationship to be a great asset to have towards that end. They say it’s possible that a joint production deal, company expansion, or offshoot company is planned. New World Development is the third well-connected investor for Tull’s company this month alone: both Gordy Crawford, the Downtown LA-based shareholder in a long string of entertainment companies through his firm Capital Research Global Investors, and Silicon Valley venture capitalist Jim Breyer of Accel Partners quietly bought minority stakes in Legendary — Crawford for his personal portfolio, and Breyer $40M for Accel after purchasing the shares from a previous legendary investor as part of a larger stock sale that Legendary arranged in March.

APRIL 16: Thomas Tull’s Legendary Pictures is seeking to secure a $700 million line of credit from 2013 out to 2016 or even 2017. Its current credit facility doesn’t expire until 2013 — the same year that Legendary’s current distribution and financing arrangement with Warner Bros ends — “but the feeling is that now there are really favorable terms.” Right now banks and institutional lenders are being approached to participate and investment presentations are being put together for the next few weeks. JP Morgan, which has a long relationship with Legendary, is expected to lead this round of financing. Tull has previously raised private equity and hedge fund financing from ABRY Partners, AIG Direct Investments, Bank of America Capital Investors, Columbia Capital, Falcon Investment Advisors and M/C Venture Partners.