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SoftBank to invest $250 million in Legendary Entertainment

SoftBank to invest $250 million in Legendary Entertainment
A major investment from Japan's SoftBank gives Legendary Entertainment, which released "Godzilla" this year, a big global partner as it tries to reach audiences outside the U.S. (Warner Bros. Pictures / Warner Bros. Pictures)

Japanese conglomerate SoftBank Corp. is investing $250 million in Legendary Entertainment, the companies said on Thursday.

As part of the deal, the two firms will create a joint venture focused on digital content, particularly with audiences in China and India in mind.

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The agreement gives Legendary -- which has recently made films including "Godzilla" and "300: Rise of an Empire" -- a big global partner as it tries to reach audiences outside the U.S. With its investment, SoftBank gets a stake in Hollywood and access to content.

The move follows speculation earlier this week that SoftBank might buy DreamWorks Animation, the studio behind "Shrek" and "Madagascar." That potential deal was said to be worth $3.4 billion.

SoftBank has major stakes in industries including wireless, broadband, Internet, e-commerce and other tech-economy sectors. In a deal completed in 2013, SoftBank bought a majority share of U.S. cellphone carrier Sprint for $21.6 billion.

After a prior distribution pact with Warner Bros. expired last year, Legendary entered a deal with Universal Pictures.

SoftBank's investment is expected to close this month. In addition, SoftBank Internet and Media Inc. Chief Executive Nikesh Arora will join Legendary's board of directors.

"Legendary is already a content powerhouse and we are very excited to make this investment and help them bring their incredibly successful film franchises and other exciting new media content to an even larger global audience," Arora said in a statement.

Follow Ryan Faughnder on Twitter for more entertainment business coverage: @rfaughnder

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