Legendary Entertainment has named Joshua Grode, an attorney and longtime advisor to Wanda, as its new CEO.
In his new role, Grode is tasked with establishing the strategy for expanding Legendary’s existing business, leveraging the assets of its largest shareholder, Wanda Group, and its various divisions and affiliates around the world. Grode will work closely with Mary Parent, vice chairman of worldwide production.
Legendary’s previous CEO, Thomas Tull, stepped down last January. Tull founded the studio in 2005 and sold it to China’s Dalian Wanda Group for $3.5 billion in 2016.
Grode has decades of expertise that spans mergers and acquisitions, equity and debt financings, including structured debt financings, and day-to-day corporate governance matters. Grode has served as a key strategic, financial and deal-making partner to industry leaders and businesses such as A24, Lionsgate, Marvel, Miramax, Summit Entertainment, Bank of America, Comerica Bank, Union Bank and The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He joins Legendary from Irell & Manella, where he was a partner in the Los Angeles office and co-chair of the firm’s Transactions Practice.
Grode commented: “Having received numerous solicitations throughout my legal career, it is the quality of the people at Wanda, Chairman Wang and Lincoln Zhang, and at Legendary, specifically Mary Parent and her unrivaled creative expertise—combined with their collective determination to transform Legendary into a next-generation studio—that has convinced me that this is a unique opportunity.”
He continued: “Legendary now has an extremely strong balance sheet with significant excess cash; that financial strength combined with Wanda’s commitment to Legendary both financially and through the access and support of its assets across all of its businesses, plus Mary’s creative vision, creates a unique opportunity to build a media company that is purpose-built to capitalize on the future of the entertainment business. Deciding to leave Irell & Manella and my partners there was a difficult decision. It is a firm that is unique in this day and age for its commitment to excellence and dedication to the personal and professional growth of its lawyers. I look forward to working with them in the client capacity as they will continue to provide world-class legal services to the media industry.”
Zhang added: “Josh is a longtime partner and advisor to Wanda, and most recently Legendary. His strong entertainment and financial acumen, relationships and understanding of the global growth opportunities that await Legendary will be indispensable.”
Parent stated: “Josh has become my most significant thought partner on the content side of this business. I am thrilled to make our partnership official and look forward to building a business that is deep on quality and high on delivery over the years to come.”
Ellisen Turner, Irell & Manella’s incoming managing partner, said: “We are thrilled for our partner as he embarks on this exciting journey. Our firm has a deep roster of the best and brightest lawyers in the country who are committed to advising clients based on a deep understanding of their business and their goals. It is a testimony to the success of our approach when clients look to Irell when filling their most important leadership positions. We look forward to supporting Josh on his new endeavor and continuing to support Legendary’s remarkable growth and success.”