A big shake up at Legendary Pictures as Thomas Tull has been removed as chairman and CEO. Tull founded Legendary and saw it soar to the heights of La-La Land with the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy and The Hangover, but bounced around looking for a new studio home after a split with Warners. Tull sold Legendary to the Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group early last year. According to THR:
He had been retained as CEO, but sources say Wanda became frustrated with his management and recent projects such as The Great Wall and the currently shooting Pacific Rim 2.
The exit is a dramatic shift for Wanda, whose Hollywood ambitions were cemented when its Legendary acquisition became the largest purchase of a studio by a Chinese company. The deal helped transformed Wang Jianlin, Wanda’s chairman and China’s richest man, into a major entertainment power player considering he also owns AMC cinemas and Dick Clark Productions.
With Tull out, Jack Gao, Wanda’s CEO and senior vp international investments and operations, will lead Legendary as it seeks a full-time CEO. Mary Parent, the studio’s head of production, is said to be staying on and will receive the full financial backing of the company.
While the studio shakeup rocked Hollywood, it also impacts the future of Legendary Comics, a division founded by Tull and currently headed by up eic Bob Schreck. Tull is a big big comics fan, and Legendary Comics functioned to put out originals – Frank Miller’s Holy Terror and books developed by Tull like The Tower Chronicles – and movie tie-ins, such as companions to the Warcraft movie and Pacific Rim. A comic mased on the Great Wall movie comes out nest week.
Tull will stay in the game with his Tull Investment Group, which has stakes in Magic Leap, Oculus Rift, Pinterest, Heal, Zoox and other tech companies, He’ll also retain his producing credit on the Monsterverse movies and a Dune relaunch that Legendary was involved in.
More to come, I’m sure.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.