Sci-fi and superhero movie fans have always been quite a vocal group - and now some of them are putting their money with their mouths are.
Anne Hathaway's Colossal is heading to theaters this weekend with an investment boost from Legion M, a fan-owned media company that partnered with distributor Neon for the film. Colossal centers on an unemployed woman (Hathaway) who realizes she's connected to a giant monster that is destroying Seoul, South Korea.
Legion M founders Paul Scanlan and Jeff Annison launched the company in 2016, and quickly sought out a film to get involved with. The company boarded Colossal after the film was completed, with Legion M contributing to P&A (prints and advertising).
Legion M is made up of about 10,000 fan-investors who have put in on average about $600 into the company. It's long-term goal is to bring in 1 million fan-investors.
"If we reach our goal, we'll be investing in a lot of projects," says says Scanlan, who says if the company reached its goal, it's have "upwards of $600 million to invest in projects that a community of co-owners, of fans, are not only emotionally invested in, but also financially invested in."
Fan communities have become more important in recent years for reviving dormant franchises. (Look at the Veronica Mars revival that came together thanks to passionate fans and Kickstarter.) But Legion M is more interested in bringing original properties to the screen rather than reviving old ones.
"If you look at the reason why there are so many sequels and reboots, it's because that's where there is an established audience. They know if they release the next Superman movie, there is an audience," says Annison. "If we do something that is completely off the radar, an IP that has never been done and nobody has ever heard of, we've got a competitive advantage because we've got this legion of shareholders that are going to come out and see it and they are going to tweet about it to their friends and they are going to help us build buzz for it and all that sort of stuff. It gives us a lot more latitude to tell original stories."
Upcoming projects include the anthology series The Field Guide to Evil, which the company joined on the ground floor as executive producers, and a virtual reality project called Icons: Face to Face, which will highlight conversations with pop culture figures and includes Stan Lee and Kevin Smith in the first episode.
Currently, a share of Legion M stands at $7.47. Because the company got in to Colossal after the fact, whether it's a hit (or not), the risk and rewards for this particular project are relatively small for shareholders.
"What we want is a variety of things. We'll make some conservative bets on things we really believe in that might be finished projects, but likewise, Field Guide to Evil, if we believe in the monetization of that content, we'll invest really early on," says Scanlan.
Legion M's co-founders say they are not interested in getting capital from a few deep-pocketed investors, but rather take pride in being powered by a lot of smaller investors, something that was only made possible recently thanks to the Jobs Act, which has allowed start-up companies to raise money from average citizens. Legion M started a second round of funding last month, raising $700,000 in just a few weeks.
"We're not looking to get four our five heavy hitters to come fund everything. We want a legion of shareholders, because that's where we get our superpowers," says Scanlan.
Colossal was directed by Nacho Vigalondo and also stars Jason Sudeikis, Dan Stevens, Austin Stowell and Tim Blake Nelson. Legion M is celebrating Colossal's release with seven meetups planned this weekend in New York and Los Angeles.