Thomas Tull [File photo]

Legendary Entertainment chairman and CEO Thomas Tull was reportedly forced to resign under pressure from the Chinese owner of the Dalian Wanda Group in a dramatic Hollywood executive shake-up.

Tull founded Legendary in 2005 and sold it to Wanda Group, owned by China’s richest man Wang Jianlin, for US$3.5 billion in early 2016, which included some US$900 million of debt. He had been retained as CEO, but sources told Hollywood Reporter that Wanda became frustrated with his management and recent projects, such as “Pacific Rim 2” and “The Great Wall,” the latter of which received a large amount of negative reviews and lower than expected box office results.

After Tull’s exit, Wanda Cultural Industry Group named Dr. Jack Gao as Interim CEO while the company pursues a full-time CEO.

Wanda will continue to fully support Mary Parent, Legendary’s head of production, and her creative team with the resources needed to develop and produce its existing and future film slate.

“We are thankful to Thomas for his founding vision of Legendary as well as his commitment, leadership and partnership this past year. He will forever be part of the company’s already rich legacy and powerful DNA,” Gao said in a statement. “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. We look forward to working with the creative team to manage our already viable film slate with more to come in the near future.”

Tull said in a statement that “building Legendary has been one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life. I have had the unique opportunity to be at the forefront of where the business is going and lead an incredible group of people as we innovated the way we thought about the film and television business, and the possibilities of collaboration between the west and the east. After a year of transition, I know that the company is stable with great leadership, so at this point I am able to leave and pursue the new interests and endeavors I have been planning.”

Under his stewardship, Tull built Legendary Entertainment into a leading media company with film, television, digital and publishing branches. During his time, in aggregate, Legendary’s associated productions realized grosses of more than US$13 billion worldwide with films such as “Godzilla,” “300: Rise of an Empire,” “Pacific Rim,” “Man of Steel,” and the Dark Knight trilogy.

According to a statement from Legendary, Tull will turn his focus to his Tull Investment Group, which invests in life science, media and technology companies such as Magic Leap, Oculus Rift, Pinterest, Heal and Zoox. He will retain the title of founding chairman and remain a stakeholder in Legendary, and will remain involved as a producer on the “Monsterverse” movies and Legendary projects based on “Dune.”


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