Legendary Pictures May Part Ways With Warner Bros.

Legendary Pictures and its chief Thomas Tull have a long relationship with Warner Bros. While the production company was founded in 2000, in 2005 Legendary made a deal with WB to produce up to 40 features over seven years. You might have heard of their first collaboration: Batman Begins. In fact, Legendary has had a hand in WB's biggest superhero films: Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy, as well as Superman Returns and Man of Steel, 300, and Watchmen. Legandary has also been part of another little WB success story: the Hangover films.

Now the deal between Leegendary and Warner Bros. has just about expired, and the production company is seeking a new partner. It has been in talks with Fox, Lionsgate, Sony, and Universal to build a new 360 deal that will cover Tull's many financial and media ambitions.

Variety reports that the company is in talks with three of those studios to generate "a new distribution and potential co-financing deal." That deal would not just cover movies, but would ideally help fulfill Tull's goal of creating a multimedia empire, with television, digital content, and comic books bolstering Legendary's film lineup.

The trade says talks with NBC/Universal are most advanced, with the added appeal there of being able to create theme park attractions based on legendary films. Deadline, meanwhile, says that talk of Legendary parting from WB is just a deal-making ploy, and that the right offer would lock the two companies together for another term. The site also reports on talks with Lionsgate.

Tull reportedly hopes to make the deal by July 4. Why the rush? One reason could be that Legendary has a lot of money tied up in Pacific Rim, which hits July 12, and the film isn't tracking that well — the numbers say more people want to see Grown Ups 2 than Pac Rim. (Seriously. So when you wonder why a film like Grown Ups 2 is ever greenlit, that's the reason.)

Looking at the collaboration between Legendary and Warner Bros., their parting would seem like a big deal. The real money-making superhero stuff from WB has been related to Legendary. But it's mostly Legendary's money that has kept things going there, and WB wants to keep more of its comic book movie development in-house at this point so it doesn't have to share profits. In fact, while Legendary originally helped WB get superhero movies off the ground at a time when the studio needed outside cash, Warner Bros. limited Tull to a 25% participation on The Dark Knight Rises, in order to keep more of the film's windfall.

The takeaway: creatively, a parting of WB and Legendary may not mean much at all for future films based on DC characters.

Even if the two companies do part ways, they'll have films in theaters for the next few months. After Pacific Rim there's also Seventh Son, and the new version of Godzilla, which is scheduled for 2014.