You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Legendary Founder Thomas Tull Becomes Employee Under Wanda Purchase (EXCLUSIVE)

In his 15-year run as founder and CEO of Legendary Entertainment, Thomas Tull made and financed many winning films along with some stinkers. But he was always master of his own fate.

With this week’s acquisition of his production company by Dalian Wanda of China — valued at $3.5 billion — the 45-year-old impresario has turned from a central shareholder of Legendary to an executive with an employment contract, though still the one atop the operation, according to the terms of the deal with the Chinese conglomerate, which are slowly emerging after Monday’s announcement.

Wanda purchased all of the shares of Legendary. A new entity was then created to accommodate the Chinese conglomerate’s ownership of an American company.

A source familiar with the agreement said the new owners have signed Tull and other top Legendary managers to multi-year contracts, with incentives tied to the performance of the company, which will make not only films for world audiences but Chinese language movies for consumption in the world’s fastest-growing market.

“Thomas will have an interest in the company’s success as if he owned stock in the company,” said the source, who declined to be named discussing the confidential deal terms. “But he won’t have stock in the company.”

The new owners stressed in the announcement that was made Tuesday, Beijing time, that Tull would continue to play a central role. Jack Gao, head of Wanda Film Holdings Co., said Tull will be “very central and very important in the overall Legendary in the future. We will support him by all means. He is the one to run the show.”

The new owners and the American lawyers who helped put together the transaction declined to divulge any details of Tull’s employment.

Questions about the regulatory advantages of the new arrangement have also arisen this week. Experts on business in China earlier initially said that, despite the purchase by a major Chinese company, Legendary movies would not automatically be exempt from the quotas that limit the number of foreign films that screen in the Middle Kingdom. But the new partners clearly believe that the Wanda connection will help break those barriers.

“You have to look at this not just as what the regulations say, but in a broader context,” said one Wanda ally. “The rules say you have to also have one-third of your cast and one-third of your crew from China. But it’s not lost on anyone that it’s a goal of the Chinese government to have Chinese films out-gross American films. If Legendary films can be counted as part of the Chinese total, that helps the cause.”

The Legendary/Wanda transaction is expected to take six to eight weeks to close.

More Biz

  • National Enquirer - Jeff Bezos

    Hudson Media CEO James Cohen Purchases the National Enquirer

    Hudson Media’s CEO James Cohen announced Thursday that he will purchase the National Enquirer as well as American Media’s other tabloids, the Globe and the National Examiner. With the purchase of the National Enquirer, which Cohen reportedly bought for $100 million, he plans to strengthen their collaborative efforts, documentary shows, weekly podcasts, and theme parks. [...]

  • Amazon

    Amazon Music’s Free Tier Is More Advertising Play Than Spotify Killer, Analysts Say

    When news began to spread last week that Amazon Music’s long-anticipated free streaming tier was imminent, headlines emerged about its threat to Spotify and Apple Music, with some stories saying that Spotify’s stock price dropped in response to the news. But not only was today’s launch of the free tier basically a soft one — [...]

  • Nicki MinajCFDA Vogue Fashion Fund Dinner,

    Nicki Minaj Parts Ways With Longtime Managers (EXCLUSIVE)

    Nicki Minaj has parted ways with Gee Roberson and Cortez Bryant and Blueprint/ Maverick Management, a source close to the situation confirms to Variety. She had worked with the pair for the majority of her career. The source says the decision was mutual and amicable, and there was no specific reason for the split, adding [...]

  • Amazon

    Amazon Music Launches Free Streaming Tier, Through Alexa Only (for Now)

    Amazon Music today basically soft-launched its free streaming tier, in which U.S. customers of its Alexa voice assistant will have access to top Amazon Music playlists and thousands of stations, at no cost. The limited access that the new free service provides — it’s only available through Alexa, and when the listener requests a song, [...]

  • Donald Glover and Adidas Launch Short

    Donald Glover and Adidas Launch Partnership With New Shoes and Short Films (Watch)

    Donald Glover and Adidas Originals today announced Donald Glover Presents, a creative partnership that unveiled a new line of shoes and a series of brief — and very funny — films to accompany them. (Watch them below.) Donald Glover Presents reimagines threeAadidas styles, the Nizza, the Continental 80, and the Lacombe. The shoes feature uneven [...]

  • Kodak Black Arrested at Border on

    Kodak Black Arrested at Border on Gun and Drug Charges

    Rapper Kodak Black and three other people were arrested after they allegedly attempted to cross the U.S.-Canada border with guns and marijuana, officials told NBC News on Thursday. The 21-year-old rapper missed concerts at the House of Blues in Boston on Wednesday night after he was stopped at the Lewiston-Queenston International Bridge near Buffalo hours [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content