Fans Decide Which Movies Get Made At This Groundbreaking Media Company

They’ve made big movies including “Colossal,” starring Anne Hathaway.

Paul Scanlan and Jeff Annison. Photo courtesy of Legion M.

Nearly everyone has had a moment of being a couch-bound critic. Reclined — and maybe covered in Cheetos dust — we’ve watched a movie or TV show and thought “I could have done a better job.”


Yet most household critics will never get the chance to be part of a Hollywood production. Now Legion M, a startup film production company, is offering fans something tantalizingly close.

And it could change the culture — and business — of how content is made.

Paul Scanlan and Jeff Annison founded Legion M in 2016 with the idea of bringing the power of film production directly to fans. Their company is owned and funded directly by investors who contribute as little as $100 through a process called “equity crowdfunding.”

“Everybody has got a little bit of ownership,” says Annison, Legion M's president.

It may sound like a far-fetched idea, but the company has already produced a handful of critically-acclaimed titles, including the cult hit “Colossal” starring Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis.

Additionally, they have a number of projects in the works that are generating buzz, including “Bad Samaritan” starring David Tennant (“Doctor Who,” “Jessica Jones”) and the surprising Sundance Film Festival favorite “Mandy” starring Nicolas Cage.

Scanlan and Annison say demand is steadily growing from those who want to become investors in the company. After it launched, Legion M had an initial investment round of around $1 million. That number has grown to more than $3 million from 7,000 investors. Additionally, there are an estimated 30,000 members of the larger Legion M community, which includes those waiting on a list for the chance to become paid investors.

“The power of fandom has really yet to be tapped as much as it could be,” says Jeff Walker, a Legion M community member who is on the waiting list to become a future investor. “All the top shows and films are genre. For me, how can you have too much?”

Part of that interest is financial; investing in a film that goes on to make a profit could prove to be a wise investment. But Legion M investors just as often are looking for what Scanlan, the company’s CEO, calls an “emotional ROI.”

“Our goal is to get you more than that $100 back but also an emotional return on investment,” he said.

Outside of films, the company is also putting together a TV show called “Pitch Elevator,” in which contestants would literally pitch their ideas for a movie or TV show on camera while riding an elevator on a studio set. On the show, Legion M investors would vote for their favorites pitches. The finalists would then take their ideas to a panel of experts. Finalists and winners would be awarded cash prizes and additional funding if their pitches go into production.

Despite the fan-driven nature of the company, Scanlan and Annison made it clear that Legion M investors won’t be micromanaging productions. Instead, the company’s leadership team presents potential projects and ideas that investors then vote on. The winning projects receive investor funding. “It’s not art by committee,” Annison says. “We’re not asking people to invest in our taste of movies.”

If the company continues to grow, it’s possible that in a few short years Legion M could be sitting on a roster of a million (or more) investors. If you do the math, it’s easy to see how this community-owned style of business could turn Legion M into a powerhouse.

“It’s like having a really big microphone,” said Samantha Sherman, a Legion M investor since 2016. “How often do you have an opportunity with people of varying degrees of backgrounds and interest to having their voice heard?”

But their goal isn’t to dismantle the Hollywood machine as we know it. “We’re not disrupting the studio system,” Scanlan says. “They’ve been receptive to what we’re doing. Increasingly, people are coming to us.”

For now, they’re focused on steady growth and carefully investing in quality projects. And like any Hollywood venture, it’s always possible the final result won’t be the huge success its members are hoping for. Except that this time, they won’t be the ones wondering how it could have been done better.

“It might be a nightmare, but it’s our nightmare,” Annison says with a laugh.

Articles

The Justice Department sent immigration judges a white nationalist blog post

The blog post was from an "anti-immigration hate website."

Attorney General William Barr via Wikimedia Commons

Department of Justice employees were stunned this week when the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) sent court employees a morning briefing that contained a link to a "news" item on VDare, a white nationalist website.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, VDare is an "anti-immigration hate website" that "regularly publishes articles by prominent white nationalists, race scientists and anti-Semites." The website was established in 1999 by its editor Peter Brimelow.

The morning briefing is distributed to all EOIR employees on a daily basis, including all 440 immigration judges across the U.S.

Keep Reading Show less
Politics
via Smithfly.com

"Seventy percent of the Earth is covered with water, now you camp on it!" proudly declares Smithfly on the website for its new camping boat — the Shoal Tent.

Why have we waited so long for camping equipment that actually lets us sleep on the water? Because it's an awful idea, that's why.

Keep Reading Show less
Lifestyle

We've all felt lonely at some point in our lives. It's a human experience as universal as happiness, sadness or even hunger. But there's been a growing trend of studies and other evidence suggesting that Americans, and people in general, are feeling more lonely than ever.

It's easy to blame technology and the way our increasingly online lives have further isolated us from "real" human interactions. The Internet once held seemingly limitless promise for bringing us together but seems to be doing just the opposite.

Except that's apparently not true at all. A major study from Cigna on loneliness found that feelings of isolation and loneliness are on the rise amongst Americans but the numbers are nearly identical amongst those who use social media and those who don't. Perhaps more importantly, the study found five common traits amongst those who don't feel lonely.

Keep Reading Show less
Health

He photographed Nazi atrocities and buried the negatives. The unearthed images are unforgettable.

He risked his life to leave a "historical record of our martyrdom."

via Yad Vashem and Archive of Modern Conflict, 2007

In September 1939, the Nazis invaded Poland. By April 1940, the gates closed on the Lodz Ghetto, the second largest in the country after Warsaw.

Throughout the war, over 210,000 people would be imprisoned in Lodz.

Among those held captive was Henryk Ross. He was a Jewish sports photographer before the Nazi invasion and worked for the the ghetto's Department of Statistics during the war. As part of his official job, he took identification photos of the prisoners and propaganda shots of Lodz' textile and leather factories.

Keep Reading Show less
Communities
WITI Milwaukee

Joey Grundl, a pizza delivery driver for a Domino's Pizza in Waldo, Wisconsin, is being hailed as a hero for noticing a kidnapped woman's subtle cry for help.

The delivery man was sent to a woman's house to deliver a pie when her ex-boyfriend, Dean Hoffman, opened the door. Grundl looked over his shoulder and saw a middle-aged woman with a black eye standing behind Hoffman. She appeared to be mouthing the words: "Call the police."

"I gave him his pizza and then I noticed behind him was his girlfriend," Grundl told WITI Milwaukee. "She pointed to a black eye that was quite visible. She mouthed the words, 'Call the police.'"

Keep Reading Show less
Good News