For eight years, Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures had a studio partnership that produced huge hits for the studios, including Inception, 300 and Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy. That partnership came to an end in 2013 and Legendary went on to join forces with Universal Studios. Now it is looking like the distribution and co-financing deal between Legendary and Universal is coming to an end, and Legendary will be reuniting with Warner Bros. But this time, the terms of the deal will be a little different.
Under their previous deal, Legendary and Warner Bros. had a slate financing partnership wherein the two studios would co-finance big budget productions. In that manner, each studio was financially invested in the success of a film and each risked less of its own money. Standard distribution fees applied and the two studios would split the profits. According to Variety, the new deal, which is currently being negotiated, is a straight output deal. Under the new deal, for a fee, Legendary gets access to Warner Bros. distribution. Unlike before, neither studio will be obligated to invest in the other's films. That option will still be available, but it will no longer be required as it was for a specified number of films under the previous agreement.
The deal between Legendary and Universal ends at the end of this calendar year, but the writing has been on the wall that these two would be parting ways for a while now. A few weeks back, Legendary's Detective Pikachu switched from being a Universal Pictures release to being a Warner Bros. release, indicating that the two studios were ready to get back together. The alliance between Legendary and Universal didn't work out quite as well as Universal had hoped. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom for example, which was pretty much a guaranteed hit, was co-financed, and thus Universal had to split the profits. On the other side of things, Legendary pictures like Skyscraper and Crimson Peak that Universal distributed turned out to be misses at the box office.
This new deal between Warner Bros. and Legendary would seemingly offer the kind of flexibility that the previous deal did not, while also avoiding some of the things that soured the deal with Universal. Legendary gets to take advantage of Warner Bros.' vast distribution network and the studios can choose whether or not to invest in each other's projects. In that way, neither is trapped into sharing profits on a sure thing or having to make risky investments in the other studio's film. Warner Bros. and Legendary delivered in a huge way in the past with some incredibly memorable and successful films. Hopefully this new deal can bear fruit that's just as sweet.
Warner Bros. and Legendary have maintained their MonsterVerse relationship even during the Universal deal, with Kong: Skull Island being distributed by Warner Bros. The next film from Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros. in the MonsterVerse is Godzilla: King of the Monsters, stomping into theaters on May 31, 2019. For all the biggest movies still to come in 2018, check out our release schedule.