Report: Legendary Pictures moves to Universal - new theme park attractions next?

July 9, 2013, 8:37 PM · Variety is reporting that film studio Legendary Pictures won't renew its distribution deal with Warner Bros. and will instead begin working with NBCUniversal. This could become a very big deal for theme park fans, as Variety is speculating that part of the Legendary's deal with Universal might include the development of new attractions based on upcoming Legendary films.

Godzilla poster

Working with Warner Bros., Legendary has produced some of the biggest film franchise of the past decade, including the Dark Knight and Hangover trilogies. Legendary's existing IP won't move to Universal under this new deal — Batman, Superman and the Wolfpack remain the property of Warner Bros. — but Legendary does bring with it an ongoing relationship with some of Hollywood's hottest filmmakers, including Christopher Nolan ("The Dark Knight," "Inception"), Todd Phillips ("The Hangover"), and Zack Snyder ("300", "Man of Steel"). Given Universal Creative's recent track record of working with directors such as Michael Bay and Peter Jackson to develop attractions based on their films, the Legendary deal brings a potential additional infusion of major star power to Universal's theme park development family.

Variety writes:

NBCUniversal has long been considered the frontrunner given its strong film distribution pipeline around the world and the TV networks it owns — from NBC to Syfy. Company also provides access to the company’s theme parks which could easily house attractions based on Legendary’s upcoming pics that include “Pacific Rim” and “Godzilla.”

Godzilla joining King Kong? Pacific Rim and Transformers? All in a Universal theme park? Legendary attractions, indeed.

Replies (26)

July 9, 2013 at 9:20 PM · I think we're all forgetting the most important movie: Lady in the Water ;)
July 10, 2013 at 2:10 AM · I think that movie lost less money than the Lone Ranger...
July 10, 2013 at 3:02 AM · This is great for Universal. Gives them more film franchises to play around with.Its only a matter of time before Batman replaces Marvel.
July 10, 2013 at 3:46 AM · The Hangover ride would be epic!
July 10, 2013 at 5:52 AM · Not really a matter of time before 'Batman replaces Marvel.' More like a matter of a lot of money, first from Disney to Universal, then from Universal to Six Flags, since Six Flags owns the DC rights and DC, obviously, owns Batman. The amount of money that would have to change hands here is kinda staggering.

Plus, why would anyone want that? Sorry, I love Disney as much as anyone, but Disney has not been at the cutting edge for a while now. Things work in cycles, right now it seems that Universal is hitting it out of the park consistently, while Disney is having some issues. At some point in the future that might change, but right now Universal is doing better. As a Marvel fan, I am perfectly happy with the existing rides at Universal.

So, no, it's not a matter of time before that happens. It might happen at some point, but I doubt it will anytime soon. If Marvel is replaced, the more likely choice is some sort of 'movie monsters'-land, with King Kong, Godzilla, and the like. And even then I have my doubts.

July 10, 2013 at 7:44 AM · A King Kong versus Godzilla ride would be fun.

I agree, though, that I cannot see Universal getting rid of the Marvel rides. They are an integral part of Islands of Adventure for me.

Even if they kept the rides and re-themed them then people would still call it The Hulk, for example (much as I still call Dragon Challenge, Duelling Dragons).

July 10, 2013 at 8:29 AM · It will take years of new content for the Legendary Pictures move to Universal to make an impact. There's not much there now. I highly doubt Pacific Rim will become a theme park ride. It is so much like the Transformers. Some are saying it might be a flop like the Lone Ranger. I don't think Godzilla do much for Universal. It will compete with Jurrasic Park. Another look alike project.
July 10, 2013 at 8:53 AM · Christopher Nolan and Todd Phillips are hacks, but Zack Snyder is a visionary director (his execution is questionable, but his presentation is top notch). I would love to see his vision translated to a theme park attraction. A Sucker Punch party house (for the over 21 crowd) sure would be fun!!! =)

Too bad Snyder's Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole was such a flop, cause it would be a much better replacement for the kiddie area in Universal Studios Orlando than the wretched Smurfs!

Clash of the Titans, baby!!!! There's your replacement for Poseidon's Fury!

And for the record, I liked Lady in the Water.

July 10, 2013 at 9:19 AM · Nolan is a good director, but after The Dark Knight Rises he's probably somewhere in my ok range.

And James, you actually liked that piece of crap Lady in the Water?

July 10, 2013 at 10:00 AM · I know Godzilla is loved by many but I really don't see anywhere this could go. Same with Pacific Rim even though it looks like a good film.
July 10, 2013 at 10:14 AM · Uh huh. Not my favorite M. Night flick, but not his worst either. I certainly didn't hate it. And I enjoyed it infinitely more than that excessively bloated Bane/Batman film Nolan puked out last year.
July 10, 2013 at 10:35 AM · James said: "Christopher Nolan and Todd Phillips are hacks,"

Says someone who has not watched a single Brian Singer film.

July 10, 2013 at 10:53 AM · I just want to say that Universal will never convert what is considered to be one of the best theme park rides ever created (Spidey) to a different character.

Marvel Superhero Island can keep it's characters forever if they want to.

July 10, 2013 at 10:59 AM · James, I am not sure what you mean. Bryan Singer's Usual Suspects is still one of my favorite films. And he gets a pass cause his Marvel work is usually pretty good even though his DC (Superman) effort was not.

And I agree w/NB, Universal should never get rid of Spidey.

July 10, 2013 at 11:23 AM · @James, I will admit that I too enjoyed Usual Suspects, but it's probably because that was one of his movies I later watched. I could go on about the faults in his movies, but I'll stick with his superhero flicks. The problem with his X-Men movies is that they place too much focus on one character/characters that the rest seem like too much of an afterthought. Cyclops was one of my favorite comic book characters and it felt like "Oh right, he was in there. I almost didn't notice." Maybe he should have appropriately named his movies Wolverine & the X-Men. And we can agree that Superman Returns was a total dud, full of hokey scenarios (throwing an entire Kryptonite landmass into space?) and WTH moments. Seriously, who would have ever thought that Lex Luthor would begin to crave dog meat? Oh well, I digress.
July 10, 2013 at 12:38 PM · Gotcha...and I agree with most all you wrote about Singer, but I do think Xmen 1 & 2 worked pretty well. Not perfect, but better than "hack" quality. Besides, the only reason I called Nolan and Phillips hacks is because they were singled out in Mr. Niles' original article (and well, because they are hacks). No offense intended to Mr. Singer, I'm sure, but he wasn't mentioned.
July 10, 2013 at 12:52 PM · I only included Singer because he's done a couple of Legendary Pictures films. Trust me, if we expanded past that title, I could name *a lot* more.
July 10, 2013 at 4:11 PM · There may be alot of naysayers out there about DC Comics characters coming to IoA, but I’d like to remind some of you that there was serious consideration of having a Batman-themed area of IoA in the past with a Batman lagoon stunt show. You can find pictures of the concept art online (a folder of which was sold on ebay).

Everybody knows that Six Flags has the rights, but why would Universal have put concept development time and money into something if they didn’t have the fiscal and legal means of obtaining it? Six Flags could easily de-theme/retheme DC stuff in their parks as they are minimally themed. I’m pretty sure Universal could afford to obtain DC Comics rights for park use with the boatload Disney would give them to get back east coast use of the Marvel characters.

I’m not saying this with 100% certainty, but it seems the easiest way for Universal to repurpose Marvel Super Hero Island.

July 10, 2013 at 4:38 PM · One thing to consider, can't Universal and Six Flags work out a DC arrangement for Florida? I remember both companies had the rights to Hanna Barbera at a time. Why not DC?
July 10, 2013 at 6:22 PM · I envision Universal developing the first theme park mash-up ... Minions at the Hot Gates!

Related: The only folks burning more money than Disney did on 'The Lone Ranger' are the collective Universal Orlando hotel resort guests that are forced to pay for parking.

July 11, 2013 at 9:51 AM · What are you guys talking about? Nolan is far from a hack. Him and his brother have brought some of the most interesting characters to life. "Memento", "Inception", "Insomnia", and "The Prestige" are right up there with the best from Ridley Scott and James Cameron. "The Prestige" is quite possibly one of the most underrated movies of the past 20 years, and "Memento" was nominated for 2 Oscars (writing and editing), and has a bigger "twist" than "The Sixth Sense".

Snyder is a hack, and if "300" didn't have such an interesting look to it (duplicated soonafter by the equally as good "Immortals" by Tarsem), he'd be directing scenes for video games instead of big budget blockbusters. Snyder piggybacked on what Lucas was doing a decade ago with green-sceen, and used other people's stories. "Watchmen" much like "300" was style over substance, and while the director's cut is quite a bit better than the theatrical release, it still leaves fans of the original work disappointed and those unfamiliar with the graphic novel completely lost.

His one attempt at an original concept, "Sucker Punch", was a complete failure. Much like his other movies, it's pretty to look at, but the movie itself is completely unfulfilling and borderline terrible. I enjoyed "Man of Steel", and hope he gets to direct future Superman movies (he's already signed up for "Man of Steel 2"), because the characters need to be in a space where an effects-wizard like Snyder can make the superhuman look real. Snyder is a good director when it comes to a visual style and branding, but if you want a director to create a universe for the characters to live in complete with subtle backstory and layers of detail, my money would be on Nolan.

I could care less about Todd Phillips, because the comedy genre is such a hit or miss proposition. Great directors are not defined by great comedies, so call me when Phillips works on a real movie.

July 11, 2013 at 11:55 AM · Russell, my venom at Nolan is aimed squarely at his last two Batman flicks and his heavy handed involvement in Man of Steel. His other flicks (especially his Dark City/Matrix ripoff Deception) are totally watchable, although Memento was a gimmick movie and the same gimmick was used to much greater impact in Gaspar Noe's Irreversible (a totally unnecessary and completely disturbing, but technically solid film).

As for Snyder, I totally agree. He has all the style in the world and very little substance (just like Scott and Cameron, imho). But that style would work amazingly well for a three minute theme park attraction. And further, I would much rather watch one of his stylish, paper thin, eye candy laden movies, than another overwrought Nolan Batman flick any day of the week.

(Fwiw, I thought both the graphic novel and film version of Watchmen were completely outdone by Pixar's The Incredibles, arguably one of the best super hero films of all time).

Finally, yes Phillips really should not be part of this conversation.

July 11, 2013 at 12:41 PM · Nolan was brought into "Man of Steel" because WB and Legendary wanted to bind the characters in a more realistic world, and allow for easier crossover within the DC universe. Much like Marvel has done with Avengers, DC has been wanting to do for years with Justice League. With Nolan's success with his Batman triogy, it was critical for DC to establish some level of consistancy between the franchises to allow for the inevidible crossover. Nolan has stated he's not interested in directing in the DC Universe again, but I think it's important to keep him in the fold, especially if they are going to reboot Batman again. DC's effort is not nearly as well-coordinated as Marvel, but you can see them finally laying the foundation (don't forget the well-done "Arrow" series on CW).

I would agree that "Rises" is not to the level of his first 2 Batman films, but it's still better than any other Batman film other than perhaps Tim Burton's first go-around, which owes much of its success to Jack Nicholson and Danny Elfman.

As far as being "heavy-handed" on "Man of Steel", my understanding was that Nolan was most influential in keeping the story grounded in Krypton and diminishing the role of Lois Lane despite the high profile casting of Amy Adams. Both of those decisions, IMHO, are what make "Man of Steel" rise to the heights that it does, and comes really close to matching Donner's "Superman II" (well that and Michael Shannon, of course).

I can't say that I've seen or really heard anything about "Irreversible", but "Memento" still stands up after over a decade as a solidly constructed film, even if you don't appreciate the "gimmick". I still find myself gravitating to it over the nearly 1,000 other movies on my shelf to pull more details from an additional viewing. I also stand by my assertion that "The Prestige" is the most underrated movie of the past decade (and it's got David Bowie as Nikola Tesla for goodness sake!).

And yes, Brad Bird's superhero movie is far more entertaining than just about anything released over the past decade. It's a shame he's gotten relegated to another theme park to big screen roll of the dice ("Tomorrowland") instead of getting at least co-directing responsibilities for "Star Wars". I don't think JJ will mess Episode VII up, but I think he should have EP-ed for Drew Goddard or Bird to stay away from the inevidible comparisons to Star Trek. Trekkers and Star Wars fans don't necessarily play nice all the time, and this will just add fuel to the fire.

I still think Nolan is a landmark director that will ultimately be lauded in the same breath as Spielberg, Scorsese, Coppola, Hitchcock, and Kubrick. His movies reach a wide audience, and are thought-provoking and original. He understands who will watch his films, and anyone that can pull a $300 million domestic box office number from an untethered sci-fi/fantasy story must be doing something right ("The Matrix" couldn't even reach $200 million in 1999).

July 11, 2013 at 2:12 PM · My issue is that I just don't like the tone of Nolan's super hero films. They're too dark , even if the central "hero" is a Dark Knight. Man of Steel suffered from a similar problem - although I feel Snyder saved it from the brooding bloat that killed the last two Batman flicks by injecting more fantasy (and all that Jesus symbolism) into the whole affair. I guess I prefer the more "heroic" super heroes presented in recent Marvel efforts than anything Nolan has showcased for DC. Besides, how can you forgive Nolan for letting a monologue defeat the final villain (shocker - it wasn't Bane! OMG!!!) in DK Rises???? (Side note: during DK Rises my daughter just kept asking, "Where are the Avengers when you need them?").

As for comparing MOS to Superman II, how can you not? The story was ripped straight from that classic film. One of my biggest complaints is that there really was nothing new offered in MOS. It was like Nolan and Goyer took the non-Lex Luthor parts of Superman 1 and the Zod parts of Superman 2 and combined them into one "new" film. I did not hate the movie, but I still wonder why in the world they didn't try something new.

As for the film Irreversible, please do not see it on my account. I will never watch that flick again (in fact there were parts of it I could not watch even once). It was stomach turning. But Gaspar Noe really did turn the Memento gimmick into an essential part of his plot.

Abrams will do a fine job with SW7. Face it, his two Trek movies (both of which I have enjoyed immensely) were more SW than Star Trek anyway!

Lastly, I liked The Prestige as well, but felt it was a bit too long, and while the twist was good, I do not think it was better than that of Sixth Sense or even Unbreakable (another underrated, but excellent super hero film).

July 12, 2013 at 7:04 AM · Yes, "Unbreakable" is a seriously underrated film as well, and probably my favorite from M. Night Shamaylan. There have been rumors for years that he was going to do a sequel, but instead he's cranked out "After Earth" and "Avatar: The Last Airbender".

I see your point about MOS being ripped from the first two Christopher Reeve movies, but what do you suggest they do? They're telling an origin story, so they can't stray too far from the source material, meaning that there are going to be a large number of parallel scenes. I do appreciate the extended emphasis on Krypton and the clever wink to the logo. I also enjoyed the choice to show his youth through flashback instead of linearly.

Also, the de-emphasis on Lois is huge in my book, because an origin story should be about the hero exploring his powers and skills against a superior foe, not about falling in love and dealing with couples nonsense (one of the few things I HATE about Raimi's first "Spiderman" is the unnecessary focus on Mary Jane). Superman is well known enough to let the Lois character stay on the periphery (as she did for much of the film), and reserve a solid love story for the sequel, when you're not bound by the origin story.

July 12, 2013 at 8:58 AM · I would have skipped the Superman origin altogether, especially since they didn't really do anything new with it. Besides, everyone knows the origin by now, anyway. But again, it was not a bad movie, just a bit disappointing since I felt like I'd seen it all before. I look forward to what comes next but I hope the next one forgoes Nolan's penchant for dark, brooding heroes and injects some warmth and mirth into the script!

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