‘Godzilla’ Producer Legendary Enlists LionTree in Deal Hunt

Legendary Entertainment, producer of the hit 2021 film “Godzilla vs. Kong,” has been working with the investment bank LionTree LLC on possible deals, according to people familiar with the discussions.

The company, a unit of China’s Dalian Wanda Group Co., has had talks about merging with a special purpose acquisition company, making acquisitions or finding other partners, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private. Legendary, which is profitable on its own, may decide not to do anything.

The boom in SPACs -- companies that go public and then seek a merger partner -- have become an intriguing option for many businesses in media and technology. Such deals exploded in 2020 and are setting records this year.

A representative for LionTree declined to comment.

The film industry is notoriously hit or miss, but Legendary and partner Warner Bros. have had the biggest blockbuster of the pandemic in “Godzilla vs. Kong.” The movie generated more than $400 million in ticket sales worldwide -- despite being released simultaneously on AT&T Inc.’s HBO Max streaming service. Legendary also has a growing TV lineup, including “Enola Holmes,” which appeared on Netflix.

Legendary was founded in 2000 by financier Thomas Tull. He sold it for $3.5 billion five years ago to Wanda, part of Chinese real estate mogul Wang Jianlin’s empire. The Chinese businessman was expanding aggressively in the U.S., including acquiring control of AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc., the nation’s largest theater chain.

Wanda recently gave up majority control of AMC after the theater company reported a record loss of $4.6 billion for 2020 and repeatedly warned it might run out of money. But AMC managed to stave off bankruptcy and is planning a stock sale that it says will meet its cash needs this year.

Legendary’s film catalog also includes “Pokemon Detective Pikachu” and “Jurassic World.” “Dune,” another project with Warner Bros., is due Oct. 1.

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