It has been a shaky few years for Legendary Entertainment recently. Thomas Tull launched the studio in 2000, then quickly agreed to partner up with Warner Bros. in order to help finance and produce films like Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy as well as Zack Snyder’s 300 and Watchmen. They have also been attached to movies like The Hangover, Inception, Man of Steel, Straight Outta Compton, and Jurassic World. More recently Tull and company had put their focus on the Pacific Rim franchise and their monster universe headlined by Godzilla and Kong: Skull Island.
Through this success, the studio has still had its troubles. Warcraft was a domestic disaster, but the international reception has continued conversation about a sequel – which director Duncan Jones has multiple ideas for. Now, in light of this latest disappointment and conflict with new owners over upcoming films, Tull has stepped down from his position.
THR broke the news of his departure, which sounds to have not been entirely his decision. The report notes frustrations from Dalian Wanda Group, the studio’s owners since last year, over Tull’s management style. Plus, Wanda is reportedly unhappy with two upcoming projects, The Great Wall and Pacific Rim: Uprising, and there is potential financial trouble for the studio. Wanda has named Jack Gao as Tull’s replacement, who gave the following statement regarding the studio’s future.
We are thankful to Thomas for his founding vision of Legendary as well as his commitment, leadership and partnership this past year. He will forever be part of the company’s already rich legacy and powerful DNA. As we move forward, Wanda aims to transform Legendary into a next generation studio of the future with a far-reaching creative and global platform. We look forward to working with the creative team to manage our already viable film slate with more to come in the near future.
Studio shakeups are almost never a sign that ongoing productions are going according to plan or that the higher ups have been pleased with the financial returns on previous releases. Pacific Rim for instance only got a sequel announced thanks to audiences overseas, but with this report pointing the finger at the production of the sequel as one of the reasons for Tull’s exit, the quality of Pacific Rim: Uprising could now be in question. The film has a talented group attached with John Boyega starring and Daredevil showrunner Steven S. DeKnight directing, but it appears that Wanda may not be pleased in some aspect.
Hopefully Tull’s departure turns out to be nothing to worry about with Pacific Rim: Uprising, but Legendary has a number of noticeable projects in development. Godzilla: King of Monsters and Godzilla vs. Kong are both high profile sequels waiting to be made, not to mention their Pokemon’s Detective Pikachu film. They also recently acquired the rights for a Dune reboot, possibly helmed by Denis Villeneuve. Tull will reportedly still serve as a producer on Dune and Godzilla/Kong related projects. Moving forward, it will be interesting to see what, if any, impact this move has on Legendary’s upcoming slate.