Legendary Entertainment — Hollywood’s high-profile producer and co-financier of big-budget studio fare — has found a new partner in Sony Pictures.
Under the terms of the deal, Legendary’s movies will be distributed and marketed globally by Sony, excluding China, where Legendary East will handle those duties. Sony will also handle home entertainment and TV distribution for those films. Sony does not have a streaming service, and Legendary will continue to partner with other companies for streaming, as it has with Netflix on the Enola Holmes films.
The pact does not include the Dune or Godzilla franchises, which will continue to be released by Warner Bros., Legendary’s previous partner. Dune: Part Two is due out from Warners on Nov. 3, 2023.
There is no formal deal for Sony to co-finance Legendary films, although it’s possible the two could explore that option down the road.
“It’s a rare opportunity to partner in this mutually beneficial way with true pros, who are completely aligned in our theatrical commitment and vision for this business,” said Josh Greenstein and Sanford Panitch, presidents of Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group. “The creative brilliance and power of Legendary is huge and we look forward to bringing their work to theaters across the world.”
Legendary was founded in the early 2000s by Thomas Tull at a time when Hollywood studios relied heavily on flush co-financiers backed by private equity money. The company put money in Superman Returns and Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy.
But as Tull established himself, he also wanted Legendary to become a production company in its own right using a major studio’s vast distribution and marketing networks. He produced and financed Chadwick Bosman-starrer 42 and took the lead on reviving the Godzilla and King Kong franchises.
After a long run at Warners, Legendary struck a new distribution and co-financing deal with Universal that officially began in 2014. The Legendary-Universal marriage didn’t last long and Legendary went back to Warners in 2019 following Tull’s exit in 2017. During The Universal years, Legendary had several misses, including Skyscraper.
Legendary was the lead producer on two of the biggest hits of the pandemic: Dune and Godzilla vs. Kong. But the relationship with Warners grew strained when former WarnerMedia chief Jason Kilar didn’t loop in Legendary when abruptly announcing it was sending all of its 2021 theatrical titles simultaneously to HBO Max.
“Sony’s commitment to theatrical distribution aligns with our vision of how to best derive the most value for Legendary’s movies,” said Legendary CEO Joshua Grode. “The incredible slate of movies that Mary Parent has amassed are built for the theatrical experience and we are excited about our partnership with Sony for this next phase of Legendary’s growth… We are also grateful to Warner Bros. Pictures who has been a valuable partner to Legendary over many years, and we look forward to continuing our work with the talented executives at Warner/Discovery.”
Added Sony Pictures Motion Group CEO and Chairman Tom Rothman: “Legendary is, well, legendary and we are excited and fortunate to add Josh and Mary’s strong slate to our ongoing commitment to big movies on the big screen.”
Coming up, Legendary has a number of projects in the works, including an adaptation of the ’90s video game Duke Nukem, as well as The Machine, starring Bert Kreischer and Mark Hamill. The company’s long list of co-financing and co-producing credits also includes Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Unbroken and Interstellar.
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