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Legendary Names Veteran Hollywood Lawyer Joshua Grode as CEO

Former Irell & Manella partner oversaw Wanda’s acquisition of Legendary in 2016

After almost a yearlong search, Legendary Entertainment has named Hollywood finance whiz Joshua Grode as CEO.

Grode is a former partner of law firm Irell & Manella, where he was an architect of transactional deals for content companies like A24, Marvel, Miramax, Lionsgate and Summit Entertainment. He also represented Dalian Wanda in their billion-dollar acquisition of Legendary in 2106.

“It is the quality of the people at Wanda, Chairman Wang [Jianlin] and Lincoln Zhang, and at Legendary, specifically Mary Parent and her unrivaled creative expertise … that has convinced me that this is a unique opportunity,” Grode said in a statement.

Veteran producer Parent is vice chairman of worldwide production at Legendary, and will work closely with Grode on the current slate of film and TV. That includes the upcoming “Pacific Rim: Uprising,” “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” and the Dwayne Johnson thriller “Skyscraper.”

In a formal announcement, Grode touted the company’s “extremely strong balance sheet with significant excess cash,” as well as Legendary’s guaranteed Chinese theatrical business thanks to its majority owner Dalian Wanda. 

“Josh has become my most significant thought partner on the content side of this business,” Parent said of the executive.

Grode’s hire suggests a priority for institutional prowess and financial stability on Wanda’s part. He wrote the business plan for the restructured entity after Thomas Tull left the CEO job last January.

Grode’s major credits include the capitalization and restructuring of Summit Entertainment during its sale to Lionsgate, overseeing the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ creation of $341 million of tax-exempt “Oscar Bonds” to finance the construction of its new museum, and shepherding Colony Capital’s over $600 million purchase of Miramax Films from Disney.