A large number of the biggest hits that Warner Bros. has produced in the last eight years have come thanks to the studios partnership with Legendary Pictures. In addition to the entirety of Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy - their first movie together was 2005's Batman Begins - the two studios also teamed up to make blockbusters like Inception, The Hangover movies, 300, and, most recently, Man of Steel. The partnership has resulted in over $8 billion made at the domestic box office, and is easily one of the most fruitful relationships in all of Hollywood. Sadly, it appears that that relationship is coming to an end.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, contract renewal negotiations between Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures have broken down, and now the latter is moving on to possibly team up with another one of the industry's biggest studios. Big details about the talks are currently unavailable and both companies declined when the trade reached out for comment, but sources have said that Legendary CEO Thomas Tull wishes to become more of an active producer and less of a financier on the fringe. At one point there was a deal where Warners could try to match any offer from a competing studio, but apparently that's now off the table.
If Legendary is no longer making movies with WB, who will they end up with? Well, apparently there are still two major suitors inclined to partner up. Tull has met with other companies, but that right now the two most likely candidates are Universal and Sony. THR says that the former could end up having an edge in dealings, as they have an "extensive television operation" - which includes NBC. Legendary just recently hired an executive to run its TV operations and could be looking to expand in that area.
Just because they won't be renewing their contract, however, doesn't mean that the partnership between WB and Legendary is completely dead at this point. Next month the two companies have Pacific Rim coming to theaters and 2014 will deliver both 300: Rise of an Empire and the Godzilla reboot.
This might seem like a significant blow for Warners, but there is potentially a big upside to this development. As the trade notes, no contract between the two companies means that WB can take complete ownership of the comic book movies that come out of their DC Comics deal and won't have to split revenues. They also still have an arrangement with Village Roadshow, which they just recently renewed.
Legendary is also in the midst of developing its own separate movie projects. They are still trying to bring the videogame Warcraft to the big screen, having hired Duncan Jones to direct the film back in January, and a Hot Wheels movie is apparently still in the mix (though we haven't heard much about that one since 2011). Perhaps now that their deal with Warner Bros. is dead they will do their best to fast-track those movies and show off the company's real value.