Batman & Superman Film Production Company Legendary Cuts Ties With Warner Bros.
Eight years after Legendary Pictures co-produced its first movie with Warner Bros. Pictures, Batman Begins, the company whose name has been attached to nearly every DC Comics superhero movie since is moving on. Legendary could end up signing with Universal, Sony or Fox, according to Variety.
It's been widely reported in the film industry trades that Legendary founder and CEO Thomas Tull has enjoyed and desires even more creative input as a hands-on producer, with say over every stage of production and marketing rather than simply being a financier. Legendary has strong relationships with talent like Christopher Nolan, Guillermo del Toro and Todd Phillips, and the company was able to strike a deal with Warner Bros. whereby Legendary would gets its choice of WB projects to become involved with -- a rare privilege in Hollywood. For example, Legendary financed 50% of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, but opted not to become involved with Green Lantern. Deadline reported that WB limited Tull's stake in The Dark Knight Rises to just 25%, which severely reduced Legendary's profits on that especially successful project and has hastened Tull's search for a new partner. Legendary was also a financer of comics-related films Superman Returns, Man of Steel, 300 and the upcoming 300: Rise of an Empire, but also has a major stake in WB's successful The Hangover franchise.
Variety suggests that DC Entertainment is a major factor in the dissolution of Legendary's relationship with WB, as the studio wants to take full control over its superhero franchises in the way it did JK Rowling's massive Harry Potter franchise. Another factor in play is that WB, once in need of Legendary's considerable financial resources to share the risk in tentpole films, can now again rely on its old partner Village Roadshow (The Matrix trilogy and dozens of other films), who just secured almost $2 billion in new financing, and with whom the studio has a more traditional relationship than the one Tull is looking for. Legendary wants to be more of a full fledged production company with a number of its own intellectual properties like the forthcoming Pacific Rim (which the company financed 75% of) and others generated by its recently launched Legendary Comics division (which published Frank Miller's Holy Terror), with aspirations in television, theme parks and more. Potential partners like NBCUniversal and Sony may be able to facilitate those aspirations.
Thomas Tull is a dedicated genre fan and has helped bring about some of superhero and adventure cinema's most successful hits, and it's likely his Legendary Pictures will continue to do so wherever it lands. But for better or for worse -- and barring any contractual details pertaining to sequels to existing films -- it won't be with the DC Comics brands.