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Legendary founder exits year after Wanda deal

ColonyThomas Tull has resigned from US studio Legendary Entertainment a year after selling to Chinese conglomerate Wanda Group (Dalian Wanda).

Effective immediately, he will step down as CEO and chairman, though he does assume a heritage position as founding chairman of the LA operation.

Jack Gao, senior VP of Wanda Group and CEO of international investments and operations at subsidiary Wanda Cultural Industry Group, will be Legendary’s interim chief executive. A search has begun for a full-time replacement.

Wanda acquired Legendary in a US$3.5 billion deal last year with a business plan to create tentpole studio movies that sell in Chinaand the US. Its first big-budget play, the Matt Damon-starring action flick The Great Wall, was a moderate success, but some other features have been costly failures.

Legendary was in line to merge with the Chinese company’s cinema assets and other entertainment businesses, which now include Dick Clark Productions, and float on the Shenzen Stock Exchange, but Wanda decided to postpone the plan in August due to market conditions.

Tull had founded Legendary in 2005, going on to produce films such as Godzilla, 300: Rise of an Empire and the Dark Knight trilogy, and TV series including Netflix’s Love and Lost in Space, USA Network’s Colony (pictured), and ABC’s Downward Dog.

“We are thankful to Thomas for his founding vision of Legendary as well as his commitment, leadership and partnership this past year,” said Gao. “He will forever be part of the Company’s already rich legacy and powerful DNA.

“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.”

The media entrepreneur will now focus on his Tull Investments Group, which has invested in the likes of Oculus Rift and Pinterest.

According to Wanda, Tull will retain a shareholding in Legendary.