Life Imitates ‘Yellowstone’

Billionaire mogul Thomas Tull is now a major investor in America’s rediscovered love affair with cowboys.
Billionaire mogul Thomas Tull is now a major investor in America’s rediscovered love affair with cowboys. Photo: George Gojkovich/Getty Images
Lauren Sherman
June 12, 2023

Thomas Tull, the former movie producer who made a fortune when he sold Legendary Entertainment to China’s Dalian Wanda Group for $3.5 billion, in 2016, is living the American dream. By multiple accounts, he grew up poor in a single-parent home, became a tech investor, among other things, then went to Hollywood and produced some of the more successful films of the past 20 years: The Dark Knight, The Town, The Hangover, etcetera. In 2009, he fulfilled a childhood dream by becoming a part owner of the Steelers. He even sold his Thousand Oaks compound, for some $35 million, and moved to the suburbs of Pittsburgh, where he keeps a very low profile, according to one neighbor. 

Tull is now the C.E.O. of Tulco, an early-stage investment firm that’s mostly focused on A.I. Since exiting Legendary, however, he has also become a major investor in America’s newly rediscovered love affair with cowboys. Teton Ridge, his newish “Western culture” holding company (named after the Idaho ranch that he bought as part of a pricey land acquisition spree) seemingly appeared out of nowhere in 2021 to acquire the American Rodeo—“the richest single-day event in all of Western sports,” according to a press release—created a new competition, The American Performance Horseman, and partnered with Jeremy Barwick, a famous horse breeder. He’s also backing the first “team-based bull-riding league” here in the U.S.