Legendary's New Deal Means The End Of Their DC Superheroes, Hope Of A New Dawn For Hellboy – UPDATED


Ben Mortimer writes for Bleeding Cool.

It's funny how the film news cycle works. Not two days ago, John Jashni, Legendary Pictures' head of production was telling anyone who asked that their co-production and distribution arrangement with Warner Brothers was still very much alive, and today it's more dead than a very dead thing that's had a nasty run in with a bus in Deddington.

Two bits of news underline this mortuary status. First of all, The Hollywood Reporter scooped that Warners are close to sealing a deal with Dune to replace their former production partners at Legendary.

And meanwhile, Reuters say that Legendary are on the verge of announcing a pact with NBC Universal.

Details on the deal between Legendary and Uni are sparse, but it's due to begin next year, and it's pretty safe to assume that this is an exclusive deal, which will mean Legendary are out of the DC Superhero business.

Quite what impact this will have on former Legendary collaborators Nolan and Snyder staying busy at Warners is anyone's guess, but it's safe to assume the most likely answer is 'not much'.

And now that Legendary are partnered with Universal, it would appear that Hellboy 3 is a possibility again. In fact, I'd personally bet on the announcement coming later this week. Well, assuming that Pacific Rim does the huge box office it deserves. And that the roadblock hasn't really been Mike Mignola all along.

What else we'll see soon from Legendary and Uni is anybody's guess, but it does mean Guillermo Del Toro's Frankenstein remake can now directly reference the 1930s classic, and we can also potentially look forward to Gareth Edwards take on The Invisible Man and Duncan Jones' spin on Despicable Me.

UPDATE: The official announcement is here, and is as follows.

Universal Pictures and Legendary Entertainment will enter into a multi-year film partnership in which the two companies will produce and co-finance Legendary and Universal films with Universal distributing Legendary films worldwide. Making Universal its new home enables Legendary to not only leverage the power and success of Universal's film business and theme parks, but also the cross promotional support from NBCUniversal and Comcast assets through the company's "Symphony" program. The announcement was made today by Universal Pictures Chairman Adam Fogelson and Co-Chairman Donna Langley and Legendary Entertainment Chairman and CEO Thomas Tull.

"Comcast and NBCUniversal's global assets in film, television and theme parks offer Legendary unmatched breadth and opportunity to grow our business. We are delighted to be in business with this exceptional team and look forward to a successful partnership," said Tull.

Universal and Legendary's film partnership is a complementary arrangement for both companies. Legendary, which is known for producing and financing successful large scale films, will continue to create and finance tent pole films based on intellectual property that is uniquely appealing to the coveted fanboy audience. And Universal, which has a proven track record of turning films of all shapes and sizes into hits with special skills in growing and nourishing original franchises, will market, co-finance and distribute Legendary films for five years beginning in 2014.

"Legendary has demonstrated a keen ability to identify and acquire powerful fresh intellectual property based ideas, match them with strong filmmakers and turn them into blockbuster hits," said Fogelson and Langley. "The Universal team is thrilled to have the opportunity to partner with Legendary in turning those ideas into the best and most successful versions of themselves around the world."

Under the terms of the deal Universal and Legendary will jointly identify opportunities to expand Legendary's franchises and intellectual property into Universal's theme parks, and Universal will have an opportunity to collaborate with Legendary on projects in China following Legendary's historic deal with China Film Group.

"Legendary continues to prove that big ideas are relevant and profitable with our global movie-going audience. We couldn't be more thrilled to embrace the challenges and changing marketplace with Thomas and his team and we are also excited about what opportunities this will bring to our Theme Parks around the world," said Ron Meyer, President and COO, Universal Studios.

"We are very excited to be in business with Thomas and Legendary," said Steve Burke, CEO of NBCUniversal. "The partnership is a perfect fit for both companies and I am confident that together we will be in an even better position to deliver compelling, profitable entertainment content to a global audience for years to come."