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For a relatively new player on the Hollywood circuit, Legendary Pictures has been on a hell of a roll with their theatrical releases. The studio that's partnered with the likes of Warner Bros, Zack Snyder, and Christopher Nolan has made a serious impact on the motion picture industry over the last decade, and ridden franchise like The Dark Knight, The Hangover, and 300 to box office glory. Then, as if all at once, the Legendary name was dealt two blows – one current and one pre-emptive, and that was enough to put their entire future into question.
Variety has published a report noting that the recently-formed bond between Universal and Legendary Pictures has gotten off to a bit of a rocky start. The reason behind the shaky ground is the downright dismal performance of Legendary's first film of 2015, the Michael Mann-directed/Chris Hemsworth-starring Blackhat. How bad has Blackhat bombed at the box office? After three weeks of worldwide release, the film has only made $14.5 million on a $70 million reported budget, causing Legendary's CEO Thomas Tull to writedown the project's value by $90 million.
That alone would be a cause for concern, but sure enough, bad news has come in twos for Legendary. This weekend's new release, Seventh Son, has been bounced around from studio to studio, and experienced major release date delays for almost a full two years since the film was originally supposed to drop. According to the new report, the February fantasy feature has been written down in value by $85 million since 2013, which is almost how much the film has made to date in International release. This doesn't even count the marketing budgets of the two films, which are totally fronted by Legendary Pictures, in accordance with their Universal partnership.
It's not all bad news, of course, as Legendary and Universal still have some big ticket thrills on the books for 2015 - specifically with Jurassic World and Crimson Peak both due in theaters in June and October, respectively. Not to mention the fact that Warcraft could be one of the first big hits of 2016, and the future sequels to Godzilla and Pacific Rim are undoubtedly going to bring in a good dose of cash However, none of this nullifies the fact that two huge missteps have fallen onto the doorstep of Thomas Tull's otherwise successful production studio, and that's enough to stifle growth past the sequels that are already on the books.
If Legendary can't secure investors and finances to keep the lights on for future big ticket pictures, they'll be relegated to simply producing low budget/high yield pictures like As Above, So Below. While that's a sure fire way of making money, it's not necessarily a business model you can keep going on indefinitely; and it's a model that could damage the massive amounts of blockbuster goodwill Legendary has built up with the film-going community since 2005. At the very least, Legendary and Thomas Tull should consider this one-two punch a warning to keep the books in line, and to watch what they option for adaptation.