Legendary Entertainment is leaving Universal Pictures faster than Arcadia left Isla Nublar in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. In 2013 Legendary signed a 5 year co-financing contract with Universal, and while that deal technically doesn’t end until December 31st of this year, Legendary is set to re-join their former distribution partner Warner Brothers.
Universal had long been expected not to renew the contact with Legendary and today’s development is further proof of that. The Detective Pikachu film that is being created by Legendary was set to be marketed and distributed worldwide by Universal in 2019, but will now shift to Warner Brothers with the expiring deal. It is also likely that Legendary will no longer be involved with the Jurassic World films and likely will not be attached to 2021’s Jurassic World 3 (not it’s final title). It has not been officially confirmed yet, but it is most likely the case with the expiring deal.
“The Universal-Legendary relationship had sputtered over the past year, culminating with Legendary’s Dwayne Johnson starrer Skyscraper, which sources say will ultimately be a money loser. Legendary also has put up large chunks of the budget for most of the films in Universal’s slate over the past four years, including summer hit Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, which has earned $1.2 billion to date. Legendary has a stake in BlacKkKlansman, a film from Universal’s Focus Features label. That would mark its final film with Universal.”
During the deal with Legendary, the studio helped finance portions of the budgets for 2015’s Jurassic World and this year’s Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. Jurassic World exploded at the box office with $1.671 billion and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is currently at $1.204 billion, and that number continues to grow daily. Unadjusted for inflation, the Jurassic World films are the biggest films that Legendary has even been attached to.
Legendary is currently heavily pushing their “MonsterVerse” which features iconic cinematic creatures such as King Kong and Godzilla. But even the first two installments, 2014’s Godzilla and 2017’s Kong: Skull Island, combined worldwide ($1.095 billion) is less than what either Jurassic World or Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom did on their own. Granted though, both MonsterVerse movies are box office successes and made a profit, just not to the massive levels of the Jurassic films.
But even with Legendary helping to cover the costs of those films, things were not always sunny between the two studios. It had been reported that Universal had become annoyed with Legendary, specifically with former chairman and CEO Thomas Tull, who tried to take more credit for the success of Jurassic World than they had earned. Legendary only helped co-finance the Jurassic films and had no creative input on the films themselves or their marketing.
Several sources say there has been strain, in part because Tull kicked off the deal in 2014 with a couple of clunkers that he put through Universal’s distribution system and then upset some at the studio who feel he has indulged a bad habit of wrapping himself in credit for hits that he merely helped finance. In this case, the film at issue was the biggest movie of the year to date, Jurassic World.
Jurassic World 3 appears like it will be the first film in the Jurassic World trilogy that will not have the help of co-financing from Legendary, but that is nothing to be worried about for the film itself. Universal might cover the costs of the film themselves or may even partner up with another small studio for co-financing on the project. But as of right now only Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment are attached to the final film in the new trilogy.
With Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom joining the rare billion dollar club, it is likely Universal will spare no expense on the budget and marketing costs for Jurassic World 3. With rumors of more of the classic Jurassic cast returning for the next installment, it wouldn’t be surprising if the budget approached or crossed $200 million. Jurassic World 3, which will be released on June 11, 2021 will be directed by Colin Trevorrow who is also writing the screenplay with franchise newcomer Emily Carmichael.
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Source: The Hollywood Reporter