LOS ANGELES (The Hollywood Reporter) — Giving a $500 million boost to its film financing coffers, Warner Bros. Pictures has signed a multiyear, 25-picture agreement with Legendary Pictures, a new shingle backed by major private investors and run by industry veterans.
Thomas Tull, who was president/director of the media and entertainment holding company the Convex Group, will be chairman/CEO of Legendary. Joining him is former Columbia Pictures/TriStar production chief Chris Lee, who will be president and manage the relationship with Warners’ development teams.
Creative Artists Agency’s former CFO Larry Clark will be CFO/COO. Marketing veteran Scott Mednick will be chief marketing officer, and former Centropolis Entertainment president William Fay has been named president of physical production.
The new partners plan to create major event releases and films in varied genres. In addition to partnering on Warners-developed projects, Legendary will develop its own projects as a part of the 25-picture slate.
The company aims to do five to six films a year and will announce its initial slate shortly. Legendary’s investors include ABRY Partners, AIG Direct Investments, Banc of America Capital Investors, Columbia Capital, Falcon Investment Advisors and M/C Venture Partners.
“We are extremely pleased to be in business with Legendary Pictures,” said Alan Horn, president/COO of Warners, and Jeff Robinov, Warners’ president of production, in announcing the deal June 21. “As the process of mounting, marketing and distributing motion pictures remains highly competitive and costly, we welcome the partnership of a skilled, knowledgeable team who can help us manage our risk as we continue to develop and produce top-quality filmed entertainment for the global marketplace.”
Tull came up with the idea about 18 months ago after realizing that the time was right to go out to private equity players with a major film investment opportunity.
“I was at a dinner having a conversation with a studio chief about how the business had changed with developments in the home entertainment market and foreign sales,” he said. “I thought that it was now much more interesting for private equity players. Appropriately, many private equity players had looked at the business before with a lot of skepticism as many had come to Hollywood and left with much less money than they arrived.”
Tull described the fundraising process as “long” and “arduous.” But he was able to raise $500 million in the form of committed capital. “It’s enough capital to let you do everything from tent poles to anything else,” he said. “In a normal deal you would have 100% due diligence. This was more like 200%.”
In addition to its new pact with Legendary, Warners has a major co-financing deal in place with Village Roadshow as well as a co-financing deal with Participant Prods.
Before Convex, Tull was a principal at the Southeast Interactive Technology Funds, the largest venture-capital IT fund in the Southeast. Lee has supervised such motion pictures as “Jerry Maguire,” “Philadelphia,” “A Good as It Gets,” “My Best Friend’s Wedding,” “The Fisher King,” “The Mask of Zorro” and “Apt Pupil.” Lee is producing “Superman Returns” for Warners.
Mednick has been involved in marketing more than 170 films, including “Jerry Maguire,” “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” “This Is Spinal Tap,” “X-Men” and “Dirty Dancing.” His entertainment clients have included Tom Cruise, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Denzel Washington. Before serving as CFO at CAA, Clark was senior VP corporate development for Sony Pictures Entertainment. Fay has produced or executive produced “The Patriot,” “Godzilla” and “Independence Day.” He spent six years as president of Centropolis.
Perseus Group, a San Francisco-based investment banking firm, acted as financial adviser to Legendary Pictures for the transaction.