Legendary Scores Christopher Nolan's 'Interstellar' in Warner Bros. Divorce (Exclusive)
This story first appeared in the Aug. 23 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros.' eight-year union was considered one of the more successful co-financing partnerships in Hollywood history. So it should come as no surprise that the two companies are working out some shared custody with their cinematic offspring.
Sources tell THR that before its June split with Warners, Legendary negotiated to retain a hefty stake in Christopher Nolan's sci-fi tentpole Interstellar, starring an ensemble including Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway and Casey Affleck. The arrangement still is being finalized, but sources say Legendary will finance 25 percent or more of the big-budget project, which began shooting Aug. 6 in Alberta, Canada. The move adds a third backer, along with Paramount, which will release the film domestically Nov. 7, 2014 (Warners is spearheading international).
Back in March, it was reported that Legendary would not have a financial role in Interstellar despite having helped bankroll Nolan's Batman trilogy as well as his megahit Inception. But when its Warner Bros. divorce proceedings began, Legendary came to the bargaining table with an option to board the follow-up to Man of Steel, which it helped finance. Sources say Warners CEO Kevin Tsujihara wanted to keep the studio's DC Comics properties to itself and instead offered Legendary a stake in Interstellar. Considering Nolan's last three films as a director (The Dark Knight, Inception and The Dark Knight Rises) have grossed nearly $3 billion worldwide combined, Legendary CEO Thomas Tull jumped at the opportunity.
Legendary, which signed a massive co-financing and distribution deal with Universal Pictures in July, remains entangled with Warners for some time on several projects. Those include the fantasy film Seventh Son, which Legendary fully financed. The studio recently pushed the Jeff Bridges/Julianne Moore starrer to Jan. 17 -- a less-than-desirable release date, though January has proved a successful launching ground for genre fare in recent years.
Other future projects that find Warners still in business with Tull include Noam Murro's upcoming 300: Rise of an Empire (March 7) as well as Godzilla, for which Legendary assumed 75 to 80 percent of the budget. Godzilla is set to bow May 16, in the summer corridor, which Legendary hopes will be kinder than it was to July's Pacific Rim. That film cost nearly $200 million and has grossed $344.4 million.
Meanwhile, several Legendary projects once expected to be distributed via Warners no longer are poised for that treatment. Warcraft, based on the popular video game, had not been submitted to Warners at the time of the split, so Legendary instead will show it to Universal in the next few months. The same is true for Hot Wheels, Mass Effect and Cyber, a Michael Mann movie starring Chris Hemsworth. Universal now will decide which of these pictures it wants to come aboard to co-finance.
Legendary and Warner Bros. declined comment.