A Chinese media and real estate investment conglomerate has acquired a majority share in Legendary Entertainment, according to media reports.
Dalian Wanda Group paid about $1 billion for its stake in the Burbank company that produced the “The Dark Knight” and “The Hangover” films and last summer’s blockbuster, “Jurassic World.” Legendary also has divisions for producing television and digital content.
Legendary founder and Chief Executive Thomas Tull and his management team will retain just less than a 50 percent share. Other investors in Legendary, including Japan’s telecommunication conglomerate SoftBank Group Corp. and investment firm Waddell & Reed Inc. have agreed to sell their stakes in the company, according to Reuters, which first reported the deal late Monday.
With an ownership stake in Legendary, Dalian, controlled by China’s richest man, Wang Jianlin, can expand into film production and extend its foothold in the entertainment industry. The Chinese company already owns AMC Entertainment Holdings, the second-largest movie theater chain in North America. It also owns the former Robinsons-May department store in Beverly Hills and has plans for a $1.2-billion mixed-use development there.
Tull founded Legendary in 2005 with $500 million from multiple financial backers. The company got a distribution agreement with Warner Bros. Entertainment that expired in 2013 and now has a five-year co-financing and distribution deal with Universal Pictures, the NBCUniversal Inc. studio in Universal City.
Attempts to reach a representative of Legendary were not successful. An official announcement on the deal is expected as early as next week, Reuters reported.