Venture capitalist picks up $40 mil in shares

After investing early in Facebook, Groupon and “Angry Birds” maker Rovio, Accel Partners’ Jim Breyer is putting his money behind Legendary Pictures.

The venture capitalist has purchased $40 million worth of shares from a previous investor in Warner Bros.-based Legendary, rather than adding a new round to the company’s coffers, Variety has confirmed. The former shareholder was not disclosed.

In addition to replacing funding Legendary already had on hand to produce its slate, deal also cements a relationship with Breyer, who is looking to up his presence in Hollywood after proving himself as a savvy investor in Silicon Valley.

Palo Alto-based Breyer oversaw Accel’s $12.7 million investment in Facebook in 2005, when the social media company was valued at $100 million. It’s now estimated at $50 billion.

Legendary’s list of films it’s bankrolling with Warner Bros. or is producing on its own is growing considerably longer, including recent titles “Inception,” “The Town,” “Due Date” and “Sucker Punch.” It has wrapped “The Hangover Part II,” started “Wrath of the Titans,” and is prepping “The Dark Knight Rises,” “Pacific Rim” and “Superman: Man of Steel.” A reboot of “Godzilla” and adaptations of “World of Warcraft,” “The Lost Patrol” and “Mass Effect” are also in the works.

The shingle is also making moves to become a larger media company, expanding into other genre-friendly platforms, launching a comicbook division to go along with a videogame arm that’s being revamped.

Any moves into the digital arena — through the launch of properties or spinoffs of existing properties — would clearly appeal to Breyer, given his previous investments. Breyer was also a board member at Marvel Entertainment, making his penchant for comicbook and genre fare fit in well with Tull’s interest in producing high-profile tentpoles that target fanboys.

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 Advisers and M/C Venture Partners among others.

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