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Investor profile: Thomas Tull

Posted Apr 7, 2010


 

(Another in a series profiling the Steelers new investors.)

If Hollywood was like the NFL, and if moviegoers were like football fans and chose a favorite team, and if the way fans showed their support in football spilled out of stadiums and into theaters, well, let’s just say there would be a lot of people wearing jerseys with the name “Tull” stitched on the back.

Sports and entertainment are industries that share a lot of similarities, from the competitive nature of each to the vision and talent it takes to succeed in either. Both also are bottom-line businesses, and when it comes to the bottom line, Thomas Tull’s Legendary Pictures has a recent record that would lead the league.

As the Chairman and CEO of Legendary Pictures, which he founded in 2004, Tull has teamed with Warner Bros. Pictures on the following titles: Superman Returns, Batman Begins, Watchmen, 300 and the record-breaking The Dark Knight, which already has earned in excess of $1 billion worldwide while also being recognized as a great film in its genre.

Sports and entertainment also are industries driven by a “what have you done for me lately” mentality, and in the last calendar year, Legendary Pictures has turned out The Hangover and Clash of the Titans. The Hangover was one of the recent year’s best comedies, and Clash won the box office in its opening weekend – April 2-4 – with over $62 million in ticket sales.

But if Hollywood is the stuff of dreams for many, Tull’s own dream came true in Western Pennsylvania back in 2006. At the time, Tull was screening his movie, We Are Marshall, for the Steelers and got to meet Dan Rooney and Art II during a tour of the team’s practice facility.

“I don’t often get nervous, but I got nervous when I met Mr. (Dan) Rooney. He’s an icon to me,” Tull told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette last October. “I lot of times when you meet your hero, he doesn’t live up to it, but Mr. Rooney was exactly what I thought he was. He’s one of the nicest, classiest human beings I ever met in my life.”

That was the start of a relationship that grew and developed into Tull being among the first to be asked to be part of the partnership Dan and Art Rooney formed to maintain control of the Steelers franchise.

“There’s only one owner of the Steelers, and that’s Mr. Rooney and his son, Art,” Tull has said. “I’m just an investor and wanted the team to stay in the same hands and continue the success they’ve had.”

Thomas Tull recently took time to answer some Steelers-related questions:

Q. How did you come to be interested in joining the Steelers as an investor?

A. I met the Rooney family a number of years ago and was approached about becoming an investor in 2008. I have been passionate about Steelers football since I was a little boy and was honored at the privilege to join such a wonderful organization run by the classiest family in sports.

Q. What was it about the Steelers that made the team a solid investment proposition?

A. The Steelers have a rich and winning tradition, great stability, and I am a big believer in Dan Rooney and his son, Art.

Q. Before you became an investor, were you a Steelers fan?

A. Yes, I have been a passionate Steelers fan since I saw the Steelers vs. the Vikings in Super Bowl IX at age 4.

Q. Are you a Steelers fan now, or is your relationship with the team more about business?

A. In this situation, I am definitely a fan first. I think Steelers fans are the most incredible fans in sports and I love the city of Pittsburgh.

Q. Do you watch all of the games?

A. Yes, either in person at Heinz Field or at home in front of the TV. I haven’t missed a snap since DirecTV made it possible in 1994.

Q. What kind of a fan are you when you’re watching a Steelers game? Vocal? Critical? Nervous? Enthusiastic?

A. Very vocal – I literally feel physically exhausted after a game because I am in it completely.

Q. What current Steelers player do you enjoy watching the most?

A. I have many favorites, but I think we are watching a Hall of Fame career with Troy Polamalu. We have a franchise quarterback with Ben Roethlisberger; he’s just a winner. I love James Harrison’s toughness and resolve. So many great players on the team, it’s tough to narrow down. Probably my all-time favorite Steelers player is Jack Lambert.


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