SoftBank Invests $250M in Legendary Entertainment

/ Oct 2, 2014


Forget DreamWorks Animation, SoftBank is getting into bed Legendary Entertainment.

The Japanese telecommunications and banking giant has invested $250 million into the production company, which is known for blockbusters like Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, Guillermo Del Toro’s “Pacific Rim,” and the recent “Godzilla” reboot.

As part of the deal, the two companies will form a joint venture focused on exploiting business opportunities for Legendary’s intellectual properties in film, TV, and digital. A particular focus will in the over-the-top and mobile video spaces, especially in the growing Chinese and Indian markets.

“Our goal at [SoftBank Internet and Media, Inc., a division of SoftBank] is to leverage SoftBank’s international platform and network of internet and media partners to accelerate content creators’ digital strategies and extend their global reach,” said Nikesh Arora, vice chairman of SoftBank and CEO of the SIMI division, in a statement. “Legendary is already a content powerhouse and we are very excited to make this investment and help them bring their incredibly successful film franchises and other exciting new media content to an even larger global audience.”

On the digital side, Legendary owns Chris Hardwick’s Nerdist Industries and Felicia Day’s Geek & Sundry, and recently partnered with former New York Yankee Derek Jeter to launch The Players’ Tribune, a website devoted to “unfiltered” editorial and video content from athletes.

Earlier this year, Legendary also announced its first feature-length digital film, “Dead Rising: Watchtower,” which Crackle has the rights to in the US.

SoftBank’s investment in Legendary is expected to close this month. Arora will join the production company’s board of directors as part of the investment.

The deal comes days after talks cooled between SoftBank and Jeffrey Katzenberg’s DreamWorks Animation. The company was interested in purchasing the animation studio in a deal north of $3 billion.

The Raine Group LLC served as financial advisor and Morrison & Foerster LLP acted as legal advisor for SoftBank. Martin Willhite, Legendary’s COO and general counsel, represented the company from the inside, while O’Melveny & Myers LLP acted as outside legal advisor.

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