Peter Loehr today sent out an email with his new Legendary East contact information and his new title as CEO. But there has been no Legendary East announcement, which indicates to me that this deal is imminent but not yet done. Interesting timing for Loehr considering the SEC’s interest in China and Hollywood. Deadline first announced back in March he was leaving CAA’s Beijing office and that there were talks between Loehr and Chinese entrepreneur Bruno Wu’s new film fund which is being advised by CAA. The agency really wanted Loehr to take that job. But then Deadline scooped how Legendary Entertainment’s Thomas Tull made Loehr an offer he coudn’t refuse. Tull 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.
Loehr had been head of CAA’s Beijing office since it opened in 2005. Though extremely controversial, Loehr is 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. How the SEC probe will affect China shaping up as a major way of expanding international box office is anybody’s guess, particularly after the country agreed to loosen the number of movie imports permitted to play in China where theaters are cropping up like crazy.
As for Thomas Tull’s Legendary East, its proposed partner Paul Y Engineering put its $220.5 million investment in the venture on hold in late December 2011. 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 even though the placement had received “a positive and substantial response”. Now, with Ed Zwick’s project Great Wall in development, and another fundraising round underway, Legendary East could be the next hot China venture. Tull unveiled Legendary East last June in partnership with China’s Huayi Brothers and 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.