The move follows the hiring of lawyer Josh Grode as Los Angeles-based CEO of Legendary Entertainment in December. Grode took over from Legendary founder Thomas Tull, who quit the company a year ago, in January 2017.
Legendary was acquired by China’s Dalian Wanda in early 2016 at a time when Wanda still had its sights set on making a big impression in Hollywood. It also saw Legendary as part of a film content giant that would be backed by Chinese investors and possibly given an IPO. Those ambitions were soon derailed when the scale of losses at Legendary became too large to hide, and the renamed Wanda Film Holdings is undergoing restructuring, albeit without Legendary.
Wanda’s overseas plans were given a further knock-back when the Chinese government stepped in to limit overseas acquisitions in the entertainment sector. After the departure of Tull and Loehr, veteran executive Jack Gao stepped in as interim head of Legendary, but Gao, too, left the company last October.
Jiang, who also goes by the name Wayne Jiang, was most recently head of Gravity Pictures, the distribution and production company that is part of the China Media Capital group. Gravity is the preferred China distributor for films produced under Flagship Entertainment, the three-way joint venture between CMC, Warner Bros. and Hong Kong’s TVB. Prior to that, Jinag had roles at Sony in China between 1994 and 2001, and at Bill Kong’s Edko.
The Gravity role has given him credits on “Mission Milano,” “The Adventurers,” and “Meg,” the upcoming prehistoric shark movie produced with Warner.
Legendary East is a wholly owned subsidiary of Legendary Entertainment. It has struck different financing and production deals with major Chinese partners, including state-owned China Film. It was co-producer and distributor of the Zhang Yimou-directed fantasy action film “The Great Wall.” While the film overcame its critics in China to score $171 million, it achieved only $45 million in North America, where it was released by Universal.