Legendary Entertainment, the finance and production company behind "The Dark Knight" and this weekend's "Wrath of the Titans," is close to raising about $250 million in new financing, according to knowledgeable people unauthorized to speak publicly.
The money, split evenly between equity and debt, will be used to refinance the Burbank company's existing debt and to invest in upcoming movies and other content.
The new financing values Legendary at nearly $1.5 billion. It is expected to be completed in the next few weeks.
The deal will join a mix of previous investors -- which have included Accel Partners and Fidelity Investments -- with well-known institutions and private investors new to Legendary, which is headed by Chairman Thomas Tull.
Reached by email, a spokesman for Legendary and Tull declined to comment.
Legendary has in the past exclusively co-financed movies developed by Warner Bros., such as "Superman Returns" and "The Hangover." But it has recently begun overseeing the production of its own films, including Guillermo Del Toro's big-budget tentpole "Pacific Rim" and the historical adventure movie "The Seventh Son," both of which come out in 2013.
This year in addition to "Titans," Legendary is co-financing July's "The Dark Knight Rises." Although Tull's company usually gets a 50% stake of the films in which it invests with Warner Bros., it has a 25% stake in director Christopher Nolan's third and final "Batman" movie. "The Dark Knight Rises" was the subject of a tense negotiation between Tull and Warner film group president Jeff Robinov last year. Because it is expected to be a hugely successful blockbuster -- "The Dark Knight" grossed $1 billion in 2008 -- Robinov did not want to give away a big piece of the profit, while Tull saw participation as critical to his company's success and its public image as a maker of fanboy-oriented films.
Legendary has recently launched television and comic book production divisions.
In addition, Tull is setting up a China venture called Legendary East that will finance movies in that country intended for a global audience. However, Legendary East was unable to close a planned $220.5-million capital raise on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange last year through a shell company.
"Legendary East expects to announce its financial and distribution arrangements later this year," a Legendary East spokeswoman said in an email. "On December 31, 2011, the date pre-arranged by Legendary and its partners, Legendary East allowed its previously contemplated business structure to lapse, enabling it to explore relationships with new distribution and financial partners."
-- Ben Fritz
Photo: Legendary Entertainment Chairman Thomas Tull. Credit: Jonathan Alcorn / Bloomberg