The fan-owned company is unlike anything Hollywood has ever seen.
In 2016, Jeff Annison and Paul Scanlan posed a question to the entertainment community that could potentially shift the balance of how we see entertainment: “What if studio executives didn’t decide what content was created?” They expounded, “What if the content was dictated by fans?” With this mission statement in mind, they founded Legion M to give an avenue to directors, writers and all other forms of content creators to place their works and ideas before a sort of internet tribunal of the very people they’re making the content for.
This is not a literal committee of fans plucked from the street but a collective unified under one company, one purpose (to get what fans want to see out there) and one system of investment and shareholder ownership. Legion M was the first fan-owned entertainment company in the world and the first U.S. equity crowdfunding campaign. The latter was made possible through the passing of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups, or JOBS, Act by the Obama administration in 2012.
When I asked Annison about the company and its philosophies, he made it obvious that this was all for the fans. “Fans hold all the power in the entertainment industry,” he said. our eyeballs and wallets fuel this massive multi-trillion-dollar industry, and individually, any one of us is simply a fan — but when we unite and come together, we have so much power, there is literally nothing we can’t do.”
Every piece of content produced by Legion M has reestablished innovation and brilliance in the entertainment industry. Fans can rest easy knowing that the next thing coming out at the movies will be more than prequels, sequels, remakes and reboots. Instead, it will be original content produced by up-and-coming geniuses that can satiate that deep desire for a damn good story.
Although Legion M has only been around for three years, they already have an illusterous track record. The company’s accomplishments include “Colossal” (an Anne Hathaway-led black comedy about a monster terrorizing the world), “Bad Samaritan” (a horror-thriller starring David Tennant) and “Mandy” (the revenge flick starring Nicolas Cage that I was able to see), as well as Virtual Reality content produced by Stan Lee and Kevin Smith. Legion M has done all of this through crowdfunding with only five full-time employees. It’s remarkable.
He also explained how Legion M is a haven from the monotony of the modern Hollywood blockbuster. Is it an independent studio? Yes. But is “indie” their only aesthetic? No. If the fans want a superhero movie, they’ll get one! But it will be a good one, an innovative one. Legion M has made a name for itself by not accepting the idea that settling for “what sells” is good enough.
“If you have a number of fans who are invested in a company itself, then we’ve got an audience that is built into every project that we do,” said Annison “That’s extremely powerful in that we can allow creators to think outside the box. We can tell original stories, and maybe turn them into the next franchise because we’ve got this established audience.” I think this may be the most enlightening portion of my discussion with Annison. Anyone can make good content and be supported both financially and by a community of unified fans.