New report says film financier's chief has taken a shine to UE3 creator after severing ties with Brash

Legendary Pictures to buy Epic?

The rumours and speculation about Epic being acquired never seem to stop – and the latest has put an unlikely buyer in the frame to buy for the popular US independent: a report in Variety says that film firm Legendary Pictures is in talks to buy the studio.

‘Multiple sources’ close to the companies have confirmed to the Hollywood industry trade daily that the two are in negotiations, although no official comment has come from either.

Founded in 2005, production house Legendary Pictures has been responsible for a number of recent box office hits thanks to its 25-picture deal with Warner Bros that has allowed it to co-produce films like Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, Superman Returns and 300.

It’s also working on the likes of Watchmen, the movie based on World of Warcraft – and, coincidentally, is helping co-fund a movie based on Epic’s Gears of War, so the two companies are familiar with each other.

If true, the move would suggest Legendary boss Thomas Tull is keen to make a play for some kind of stake in the games market, despite his dissatisfaction with Brash Entertainment, the games publisher he co-founded last year but resigned from the board of two weeks ago. Turning his attentions to Epic would imply he rather wishes to ally himself with a games company that has an established (and good) reputation in interactive entertainment.

Epic Games has always been a subject of speculation when it comes to acquisition, given its long-running fierce independence and ownership of two popular IPs – Gears of War and Unreal Tournament. But more importantly its ubiquitous Unreal Engine business provides regular income through licensing and, as Variety points out, makes it much more reliable a company than a hit-dependent developer.

If a deal between the two takes place Legendary would be the first film financing firm to invest in a games developer – so far it has been the major studios such as Warner Bros and Disney that have chosen to build up development resource, not their production partners.

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