Though Universal Pictures and Legendary Pictures has a five-year deal, the recent developments now being reported are starting to look like there is a huge strain between the two. First Universal passed on Kong: Skull Island, allowing Legendary to move the film, budgeted at $125 million, to Warner Bros., which now allows them to build a shared universe opening the door for a Godzilla vs. King Kong film. Then reports of Pacific Rim 2 being put on hold indefinitely broke, and it’s unclear if the studio wants to move forward with the sequel.
But it isn’t just these movies that are causing a strain between Universal and Legendary. Studio politics and a few films performing below box office expectations are contributing to some concerns over films like Warcraft. More on this story below.
Directed by Duncan Jones (Moon, Source Code), Warcraft stars Ben Foster, Travis Fimmel, Paula Patton, Dominic Cooper, Toby Kebbell, and Rob Kazinsky. It is scheduled to open in theaters on June 10, 2016.
According to THR, after releasing two major flops earlier this year, Michael Mann’s Blackhat and the Ben Barnes starring vehicle Seventh Son, Universal has some major concerns with developing projects like Pacific Rim 2. Universal has invested in three Legendary projects: the $15 million Christmas horror movie Krampus, the ambitious aforementioned adaptation of the worldwide popular video game World of Warcraft, and Matt Damon’s sci-fi actioner The Great Wall.
While Krampus has all the makings of being a sleeper hit, “several sources say the latter two are seen as ‘problem movies’ that have heightened concerns on the part of Universal studio chief Donna Langley.”
It’s not exactly clear what they mean by “problem movies.” The film did a major promotion while at the San Diego Comic-Con earlier this year. While the cast spoke highly of the film, and some were proud of putting 600+ hours into playing the game, the footage looked less than stellar, with some claiming that the visuals looked like low-budget CGI. But that was two months ago, and the film still has time to be polished (at least from a visual effects standpoint) in time for its June 2016 release. The fact that they took the time to do a major promotion at one of the biggest geek conventions of the year tells us that they have some sort of confidence in the film.
Another issue at hand is Legendary’s Thomas Tull taking credit for the success of films like Jurassic World. While the Legendary banner is attached to the Universal Film, the report says that Tull merely helped finance the film and did not contribute to it in a creatively capacity. Tull also took credit for the success of The Dark Knight trilogy.
While any concern of any size is not a good sign, there is still plenty of time for Jones, Legendary, and Universal to work them out. We still have yet to see a trailer, and I’m sure by then we will see something that would like a major improvement over what was shown at SDCC.