‘Dune’ film producer Legendary moves distribution deal to Sony from Warner Bros.

A woman with long, brown hair standing next to a man with short, brown hair
Zendaya as Chani and Timothee Chalamet as Paul Atreides in Warner Bros.’ and Legendary Pictures’ “Dune.”
(Warner Bros. Pictures / Legendary Pictures)

Legendary Entertainment has signed a new multiyear worldwide distribution deal with Sony Pictures, moving away from its longtime partner Warner Bros.

The Burbank-based company, known for the popular “Dune” remake as well as “Godzilla vs. Kong,” said it will now release its movies through Sony, according to a joint statement Monday.

The companies are committed to releasing the films in theaters as a way of building long-term value in their titles, the statement said. Legendary signed its deal with Warner Bros. in 2019.

“Sony’s commitment to theatrical distribution aligns with our vision of how to best derive the most value for Legendary’s movies,” Legendary Chief Executive Joshua Grode said in the statement.

Warner Bros. is now under the rule of Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav, who has been adamant about prioritizing theatrical releases for big movies and exploiting other release windows rather than sacrificing revenue to grow streaming subscriptions.


But he has also enacted cost-cutting measures that have caused angst among Hollywood’s creative community, axing high-profile projects such as a $90-million “Batgirl” movie.

Legendary is not the first major filmmaker to move its content elsewhere.

Christopher Nolan, a regular hitmaker for Warner Bros. over the last two decades, will release his next feature, “Oppenheimer,” through Universal Pictures next year. “Aquaman” director James Wan is in talks to merge his production company with Blumhouse, which would move his deal from Warner Bros. to Universal, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Warner Bros. is making its entire 2021 slate of movies available for streaming on HBO Max as soon as they hit theaters. Critics say the studio is being “dismantled.”

Dec. 11, 2020

During the pandemic, Warner Bros. enraged some filmmakers like Nolan by pushing many of its movies onto its HBO Max streaming platform much earlier than had been typical. Unlike Warner Bros., Sony does not have a streaming platform to feed.

Legendary said that it will remain in business with Warner Bros. on select existing titles, such as the sequel to the “Dune” reboot, which will still be released by Warner Bros. on Nov. 3, 2023, Legendary said.

The worldwide deal excludes China, where Legendary East will handle all marketing and distribution activities, the companies said.

Culver City-based Sony said it will also handle home entertainment and TV distribution for the Legendary titles it releases. As part of the deal, Legendary will keep the option to produce and distribute feature film content for a wide range of streaming platforms.

Times staff writer Ryan Faughnder contributed to this report