Film production powerhouse Legendary Entertainment has struck a financing, distribution and marketing deal with NBCUniversal, according to an executive with direct knowledge of the situation who declined to speak publicly because of the confidential nature of the matter.
A formal announcement of the deal is expected Wednesday.
The new arrangement is a coup for NBCUniversal, whose Universal Pictures has had a strong year with the release of hits such as "Fast & Furious 6" and "Despicable Me 2."
Since 2005, Legendary, producer of the forthcoming sci-fi action movie "Pacific Rim," has had a distribution and co-production deal with Warner Bros., based in Burbank. The agreement expires at the end of the year.
“We have the utmost respect for Legendary and will continue to work with them on a number of projects," Warner Bros. said in a statement. "We wish them well in their new endeavors.”
In addition to director Guillermo del Toro's "Pacific Rim," which will be released Friday by Warner Bros., the studio will distribute Legendary's forthcoming "Godzilla" remake. The "Pacific Rim" premiere was Tuesday night at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.
Legendary Chief Executive Thomas Tull said June 18 that his company would have a new contract at Warner Bros. in as soon as 60 days — or it might be heading somewhere else.
Although Tull said then that Legendary was in discussions with several companies about a prospective deal, the arrangement with NBCUniversal took far less than the allotted two months to be completed.
According to several sources, NBCUniversal Chief Executive Steve Burke was directly involved in the negotiations. The new deal will start in 2014.
Among the films produced by Legendary and distributed by Warner Bros. have been Christopher Nolan's "Dark Knight" trilogy, the "Hangover" series and this summer's Superman reboot "Man of Steel," which has grossed $588 million worldwide.
In June, Bruce Rosenblum, the former top television executive at Warner Bros., was named Legendary's president of television and digital media. Rosenblum took the job less than a month after leaving his post as head of TV at Warner Bros.
He left Warner Bros. after failing to win the top studio job in an awkward succession battle to replace retiring Warner Bros. Chairman and Chief Executive Barry Meyer. Kevin Tsujihara, the company's former home entertainment chief, was named Meyer's successor in January and assumed the CEO post in March.
Among Tsujihara's key tasks in his first few months on the job was to try to retain Legendary.
Spokespersons for Legendary and NBCUniversal declined to comment.
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