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‘Great Wall’ Flop Topples China Chief of Wanda’s Legendary Entertainment

By Yang Ge

(Beijing) – The top China executive at Legendary Entertainment is leaving the company, the Wanda Group-owned studio said, marking the second major departure this year after a disappointing performance for its biggest local project to date.

Peter Loehr, CEO of Legendary East Ltd., will depart the company on June 1, ending a five-year tenure in the post, according to an announcement released by Legendary last week. Legendary East distributes the studio’s films in China, and also looks for new opportunities in the world’s second-largest movie market, behind only the United States.

“The current Legendary East management has been instrumental in developing our business plan for the future, and we look forward to continuing our strategic growth trajectory with this team,” said Jack Gao, Legendary Entertainment’s acting CEO. “A new CEO to work with the incredible Legendary East team will be announced shortly.”

Loehr, a longtime veteran of China’s film industry, did not announce where he will go next. He has been based in China for more than two decades, serving as an independent film producer and the first managing director of the China office for Creative Artists Agency, one of Hollywood’s top talent agents that represents the likes of actor Robert Downey Jr.

Loehr’s China credits include mostly locally produced films, including The Great Wall, a science fiction historical fantasy starring Matt Damon that was the biggest Hollywood-China co-production of all time with a budget of $150 million. But the film got mixed reviews and was a big disappointment, generating only $332 million to date at the box office, far below the amount it would need to break even, analysts said.

Wanda bought Legendary for $3.5 billion last year, marking one of its biggest purchases in Hollywood as the Chinese real estate giant attempts to recast itself as a global entertainment company on par with The Walt Disney Co. But following The Great Wall’s disappointing performance, Legendary Entertainment CEO Thomas Tull left the company in January, and was replaced by Gao, who has run the company on an interim basis since then.

Contact reporter Yang Ge (geyang@caixin.com)

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