Legion M, the entertainment company owned by fans, is using a secret weapon to find the films they should be backing – Sundance Film Festival attendees.
Using the ‘wisdom of the crowd’ mentality, they’re launching Scout, a platform that allows movie lovers to rate the movies they see, from the film itself to buzz and audience reaction.
“As a fan-owned company, we're constantly looking for ways to involve the Legion in our projects,” Paul Scanlon, Legion M's co-founder and CEO, told Forbes. “It’s partly because we want to give our members a voice in the decision-making process, but also because we believe that leveraging the wisdom of a passionate community of entertainment fans can help us make better decisions for the company.”
Legion M are hoping the results, when aggregated across all of their scouts, will give them invaluable data that will help them create a watchlist for the festival as well as highlighting potential investment opportunities.
So, what do members of the public see in a movie that people in the industry might miss?
“That's the billion-dollar question. If you knew the answer then every movie could be a hit,” admits Jeff Annison, Legion M’s President and co-founder.
“Sadly, you don't have to look any further than box office results for proof that the industry regularly misjudges what the public wants. In fairness, these are impossible decisions to make. The stakes are extremely high, and the amount of quantitative information is low. You’re forced to rely on gut feel and intuition, and, if you are deciding as a group, you have to deal with all the social dynamics.”
Legion M already has already partnered with leading industry figures and creators, from independent filmmakers to big Hollywood studios, to produce a slate of movies, TV, and digital content. Having invested in and had great success with the Nicolas Cage-led cult phenomenon Mandy and Dean Devlin’s Bad Samaritan, Legion M are now hoping that their latest effort to harness fan power will take them to the next level at Sundance.
As the Scout platform is open for anyone to use, whether they are an investor in Legion M or not, the potential for abuse is real. So, what are Legion M doing to ensure that the data they are receiving is clean?
Annison admits that’s something they’re aware of and have had to consider, saying: “Contests where people vote on content frequently turn into a popularity contest where the winner is determined more by the promotional abilities of the contestants than the quality of the content being voted on.”
“We specifically architected Scout to avoid this dynamic and put safeguards in place that would make it very difficult to game. If somebody does try to game it, it should be easy to spot when looking at the data,” he explained.
With over 3,400 investors already, putting in upwards of $100 each, Legion M recently beat its round four funding target of $1.25 million. The current round, which stands at $1.5 million, ends on February 9, 2019.
“I think it would be difficult for somebody to get this to work without a community like ours,” mused Scanlon. “You need a large group of people that are relevant and motivated to provide good feedback. Our Legion is comprised of passionate entertainment fans motivated to see their company succeed - it is the perfect audience for this.”
Annison added: “I'm sure people have tried it before but I don't know anyone else with a Legion available to make it work. Without the right pool of scouts, it would be difficult to get meaningful data. Also, as Silicon Valley guys, we tend to look at the world a little differently than a lot of people in Hollywood. Using data to solve problems that are traditionally solved with gut feel and intuition is a very Silicon Valley thing to do.”
So how, and when, will they know if Scout has paid off?
“While Scout is a great tool for evaluating what an audience thinks, it's only part of the equation. Just because people like a trailer doesn't mean it will make a great movie. And just because they like a movie doesn't mean it will make a great investment,” Annison concluded.
“Ultimately, we will have succeeded when we use the data to buy a film, or partner with a distributor to buy a film, and see it succeed in the marketplace. Until then we'll continue to experiment and iterate to make the experience fun for the scouts and useful for our partners and us.”
You can find out more about Legion M and how to get involved here.