Eager to lock down content for its digital platforms, SoftBank Corp. announced Thursday a $250 million investment in Legendary Entertainment and the formation of a new joint venture. The deal is far larger, Variety has learned, and could actually be worth up to $1 billion.
According to a letter sent to Legendary’s shareholders on Oct. 1 to secure votes for the pact, SoftBank’s investment in Legendary is actually broken up into three stages that began with the $250 million investment, which is expected to close within a week.
Under terms of its deal with Legendary, SoftBank has the option to make two additional $375 million investments in the company through 2018, said shareholders who provided details of the letter to Variety.
After the three rounds of investments, SoftBank, one of Japan’s largest tech congloms, has the first refusal right to purchase Legendary outright, should Thomas Tull choose to sell the company.
The first $250 million investment gives SoftBank control of 10% of Legendary, which analysts say is worth around $3 billion.
Legendary declined to discuss terms of the deal. SoftBank also declined to comment.
SoftBank has been top of mind in Hollywood over the past week since reports that the company was looking to buy DreamWorks Animation.
However the deal with Legendary — and the formation of a joint venture with the company — signals that SoftBank is more interested in becoming a major player in Hollywood by helping turn Legendary into more of a full-fledged studio in return for exclusive rights to entertainment that it can push across all of its mobile platforms around the world, that includes Sprint in the U.S.
Until now, SoftBank has had rights to mobile games from Supercell and GungHo, but had no deals with traditional entertainment providers like TV or movie studios.
Legendary Entertainment, founded in 2000, is behind such films as “Godzilla,” “The Dark Knight” and “Pacific Rim.” The company has a new distribution deal with Universal Pictures after it recently ended an eight-year pact with Warner Bros. Legendary recently started expanding heavily into television and is growing its own digital companies like Chris Hardwick’s Nerdist Industries.