EARLIER: July 25, 2018 12:47 AM PST: Legendary’s move of Detective Pikachu from Universal to Warner Bros presages the same move for the Dalian Wanda-backed producer-financier, sources tell Deadline. We hear Legendary won’t renew when its five-year deal with Universal ends in December. The company is eyeing a return to Warner Bros, its base until former owner Thomas Tull had a falling out there.
The move comes as the Legendary comes off disappointing returns on the Dwayne Johnson-starrer Skyscraper.
No one at Legendary, Universal and Warner Bros will comment, but sources said Legendary is finalizing a deal for Detective Pikachu to be one of six pictures that Warner Bros will co-finance and release in a non-exclusive pact. It’s unclear how much of Legendary’s inventory at Universal will also move.
Warner Bros is already distributing the latest Legendary Godzilla movie, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, which made a splash at Comic-Con last weekend at WB’s Hall H session. Legendary was supposed to make the King Kong pic Skull Island at Universal, but moved it over in 2015 to pair it with the roaring reptile, Godzilla. That pic has a May 31, 2019 release date. WB and Legendary had a lucrative relationship before the Uni deal was struck, from Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight films to The Hangover, 300, Interstellar and the first Pacific Rim among others.
Legendary Entertainment has been finding its footing since China-based Wanda acquired it in early 2016 for $3.5 billion, with big bets like The Great Wall and Warcraft, aiming at the China market, underperforming. Tull left last year and the company is now steered by Mary Parent and Josh Grode. Legendary in June closed a $1 billion senior secured revolving credit facility led by JP Morgan, which it is using to continue growing its content coffers across film and television. That new facility, combined with its cash on the balance sheet at the closing, gave Legendary about $2 billion in liquidity.
Through its co-financing arrangement with Universal, Legendary has been involved in the success of movies like the Jurassic World reboots, Straight Outta Compton and most recently Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. It also co-produced the upcoming Mortal Engines and BlackKklansman.
On the TV side, Legendary Television got a second-season order from Netflix for Lost In Space and is amid an Emmy campaign for Hulu’s The Looming Tower.