Legendary Entertainment Chairman and CEO Thomas Tull is exiting the production company behind hits including “Jurassic World.”
Jack Gao, a group senior vice president and CEO of international investments for Wanda Cultural Industry Group will take over as interim CEO while the company looks for a full-time replacement. Tull, who founded the production company in 2000, will transition to a role as founding chairman. Production chief Mary Parent will remain with Legendary.
China’s Dalian Wanda Group, which also owns AMC Theatres and Dick Clark Productions, acquired Legendary for $3.5 billion last January. Legendary lost $500 million last year, according to a Chinese regulatory filing.
Legendary’s slate of high-octane action hits has historically played well in China, which likely helped pique Wanda’s interest in the company. “Jurassic World” made $229 million in China and last summer’s “Warcraft” — while a bomb in the U.S. — reeled in $221 million in the Middle Kingdom.
“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,” Gao said in a statement. “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.”
“Building Legendary has been one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life,” Tull said in the statement. “I have had the unique opportunity to be at the forefront of where the business is going and lead an incredible group of people as we innovated the way we thought about the film and television business, and the possibilities of collaboration between the west and the east. After a year of transition, I know that the company is stable with great leadership, so at this point I am able to leave and pursue the new interests and endeavors I have been planning.”
Legendary has numerous movies and TV shows in production and post-production including “Kong: Skull Island,” to be released by Warner Bros. on March 10, and 2018’s “Pacific Rim: Uprising,” which will be distributed by Universal and was one of the first films to be shot at Wanda’s $8 billion mega-studio, Qingdao Oriental Movie Metropolis.