×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Josh Grode Named CEO of Legendary Entertainment

Attorney Joshua Grode has been named the new CEO of Legendary Entertainment, nearly a year after the departure of founder Thomas Tull.

Grode served as an adviser to Legendary and its parent company, the Dalian Wanda Group. He takes the helm at an uncertain time for the company, whose multibillion-dollar acquisition in 2016 was taken as a powerful symbol of rising Chinese influence in Hollywood. Nearly two years later, Wanda has been undergoing a severe retrenchment, selling off hotels, theme parks and real estate developments in China and around the globe.

In an interview, Grode said that Wanda has invested heavily in Legendary, restructuring its balance sheet and putting it in a strong position.

“We have more than enough liquidity to satisfy the business plan,” Grode said. “To the extent needed, we can finance movies completely out of cash on the balance sheet.”

Last May, Wanda exec Jack Gao — then serving as interim CEO of Legendary — told Variety that Wanda had committed $1 billion to the company with the aim of becoming a “top five studio” by 2020.

Gao, who also oversaw AMC Theatres and other international business for Wanda, left the company in October as Chinese regulators continued to hold a tight rein on capital outflows.

Asked whether Gao’s aggressive vision for Legendary is still operative, Grode said it remains a work in progress.

“The vision is to be formed,” he said. “The company has a clean and strong balance sheet. It’s not subject to larger corporate entanglements that some of the other studios have to wrestle with.”

As for next steps, he said, “We have the luxury of exploring all of it and deciding what we think is the most strategic thing to do.”

Legendary lost over $900 million combined in 2014 and 2015, and releases like “The Great Wall” and “Warcraft” were disappointments. More recently, the company scored a hit with “Kong: Skull Island,” which grossed $567 million worldwide. The company’s next release is “Pacific Rim Uprising,” the sequel to the 2013 film, which is due out in March. The company also has high hopes for “Skyscraper,” starring Dwayne Johnson, which is due in July.

The latter is the first greenlit by Mary Parent, the studio’s production chief, who was hired shortly after the acquisition in 2016. In an interview, she said she was encouraged by Grode’s hiring as CEO.

“For me, it’s the best possible news,” she said. “He played a pivotal role in getting the company to a place where we can link arms and move forward.”

Asked if Wanda might be polishing up the balance sheet in anticipation of a sale, Grode seemed unsure.

“Not that I’ve heard,” he said. “I don’t think there’s a pressing need for it. Would they like to get a return on their investment? Sure. Part of my job will be to create content that we think is generating the highest ROI.”

More Biz

  • Stan Lee, left, and Keya Morgan

    Stan Lee's Former Business Manager Arrested on Elder Abuse Charges

    Stan Lee’s former business manager, Keya Morgan, was arrested in Arizona Saturday morning on an outstanding warrant from the Los Angeles Police Department. The LAPD’s Mike Lopez confirmed that the arrest warrant was for the following charges: one count of false imprisonment – elder adult; three counts of grand theft from elder or dependent adult, [...]

  • promenade Cannes Croisette Cannes Placeholder

    Cannes Market Claims Record Visitor Numbers

    The Cannes Market, the Cannes Film Festival’s commercial wing, says that its 2019 edition welcomed a record number of participants. It reported 12,527 attendees. The largest group by nationality was from the U.S. with 2,264 participants, followed by France with 1,943 participants, and the U.K. 1,145. Comparable figures for 2018 were not available. The number [...]

  • Former movie producer Harvey Weinstein (L)

    Some Weinstein Accusers Balk at $30 Million Settlement

    Updated: Some of Harvey Weinstein’s accusers are balking at a proposed $30 million settlement of their harassment claims, which could scuttle the deal, Variety has learned. Attorneys in the Weinstein Co. bankruptcy case told Judge Mary Walrath on Thursday that they are close to a global resolution of the civil litigation. The accusers, their lawyers [...]

  • Director Dean DeBlois and online game

    'Dragon' Director Dean DeBlois and PUBG's CH Kim to Keynote 2019 VIEW Conference

    Dean DeBlois, director and executive producer of DreamWorks Animation’s “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World,” and PUBG Corporation CEO CH Kim are the first keynote speakers announced for the 2019 VIEW Conference in Turin, Italy, in October. Since it began 12 years ago, VIEW, which stands for Virtual Interactive Emerging World, has continually [...]

  • Harvey Weinstein

    Harvey Weinstein Accusers Near Settlement in Bankruptcy Case

    Attorneys in the Weinstein Co. bankruptcy case say they are getting close to reaching a settlement that would compensate Harvey Weinstein’s sexual misconduct accusers. The company went bankrupt last year, as it faced hundreds of millions of dollars in debt and numerous civil suits on behalf of Weinstein’s alleged victims. The company sold to Lantern [...]

  • Ari Emanuel Endeavor

    Endeavor IPO Filing Offers Details of Company's Financials, Leadership Pay Packages

    Endeavor’s IPO filing Thursday offers a hard look at the company’s financial performance during the past three years during a period of rapid growth for the company that’s home to UFC, WME, Professional Bull Riders and a clutch of other assets. Endeavor is generating solid free cash flow from operations and healthy adjusted earnings for [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content