Hiring signals company's intent to ramp up TV, split from WB
The question of Bruce Rosenblum’s plan for his second act after a nearly 25-year run at Warner Bros. has been answered. The former Warner Bros. TV Group topper has joined Legendary Entertainment as prexy of TV and Digital Media.
The hire comes as Legendary is the process of setting up a new studio partnership pact after spending the past eight years on the WB lot. Rosenblum’s hire is a sign that Legendary CEO Thomas Tull is serious about ramping up its smallscreen activities, and more evidence that it is unlikely to re-up with Warner Bros.
Rosenblum will oversee the expansion of TV and digital media production at Legendary, with a particular emphasis on harnessing the potential of emerging digital and VOD platforms to develop innovative business models. It’s understood that his first order of business will be to recruit a senior creative exec.
“Bruce has an outstanding track record in the business, and he will be instantly additive to the team in our efforts to continue to make world-class content for consumers, however and wherever they access that content,” Tull said. “We are pleased to have him join Legendary and look forward to working together to continue to build value for the company.”
Rosenblum is expected to move quickly in building a core team and other operations, which Legendary is prepared to finance on its own regardless of what happens with its next studio pact.
Rosenblum settles at Legendary barely a month after he left Warner Bros. His departure from the studio became a fait accompli in January when he was passed over for the top job that went to Kevin Tsujihara.
Tull is said to have reached out to Rosenblum after the WB CEO decision was made in January, though the latter’s deal to join the company was only finalized this past weekend. The opportunity to build a business from scratch at Legendary was more appealing to Rosenblum that switching to another established studio or network operation. With its deep pockets, Legendary is a prime vehicle to test the true money-making potential for over-the-top distribution of TV and digital content that sidesteps traditional networks.
Legendary is in the midst of its own separation from Warner Bros. even after a successful run of co-financing high-profile pics with the studio. Speculation about where Tull’s banner will end up is rampant — and Rosenblum’s hire will only fan the flames. For the near term, however, the move to Legendary will bring Rosenblum back to the WB lot, where the company has its offices.
Tull and Rosenblum were not immediately available for comment. In a statement, Rosenblum described his new gig as “an unparalleled opportunity to join Legendary’s team and launch an innovative multi-platform content production and distribution business uniquely focused on a highly sought-after target demographic.
He continued: “There has never been a better time to be producing and distributing television content. The Legendary consumer belongs to a connected, vibrant demographic, and the opportunity to develop content and strategies to reach this burgeoning audience is invigorating and exciting to me.”
A big part of Rosenblum’s charter will be to enhance public recognition of the Legendary brand name through direct-to-consumer distribution platforms a la YouTube.
Rosenblum will essentially be starting from scratch in building a TV and digital operation. The plan is to keep overhead costs modest at the outset while Tull and Rosenblum explore production and distribution options in the U.S. and abroad.
Legendary took a stab at TV in 2011, creating the Legendary Television banner headed by Jeremy Elice and setting a pact with Warner Bros. TV. However, Legendary shuttered the division and Elice exited the following year, reportedly out of frustration at not being able to get a prospective redo of “Lost in Space” off the ground.
In addition to his exec experience, Rosenblum comes to Legendary with the perch of being the elected chairman-CEO of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. He is expected to run for a second two-year term later this year.
Marc Graser contributed to this report.