As a Hollywood producer, Dean Devlin has brought such (literal) monster hits to the screen as Independence Day, Godzilla, Stargate and The Patriot. His latest directorial effort, the suspenseful horror/thriller Bad Samaritan, was produced in partnership with Legion M; the world’s first fan-owned entertainment company. Legion M funds its films by connecting filmmakers with fans who invest directly in the movies themselves. The company takes the Kickstarter-style crowdfunding approach to a whole new level by introducing equity into the equation; when fans donate to films on Legion M they actually OWN part of the movie. Through this model, Legion M has produced such films as the kaiju comedy, Colossal, the upcoming Sundance-acclaimed shocker, Mandy, starring Nicolas Cage, and Icons: Face to Face, a VR interview series with Kevin Smith and Stan Lee.
The minimum investment is $100 and Legion M’s ultimate goal is to reach a million members and thus have hundreds of millions of dollars to invest in projects along with a million fans to support them. The guiding philosophy behind Legion M is that entertainment companies belong in the hands of fans instead of with Wall Street and by democratizing the green-light process, fans can veer Hollywood off of its stale trajectory of repetitive, over-budgeted reboots, remakes and sequels, and more towards the fresh-thinking and unique storytelling that made us all fall in love with movies in the first place.
This notion of reinvigorating Hollywood’s pipeline with more original films and backing them through the hearts and wallets of fans was particularly resonant to Devlin who dove head first into a project with Legion M shortly after learning of their existence. As unlikely as a partnership between an accomplished Hollywood titan like Devlin and an ambitious upstart like Legion M may seem, their relationship is indicative of larger trends affecting Hollywood as a whole. We spoke to Devlin about Bad Samaritan, his partnership with Legion M, and what their unique production model may mean for the future of filmmaking.
Dread Central: What prompted you to start your own production company and what did you do differently with Electric Entertainment?
Dean Devlin: When the studios all got bought by larger corporations there was a feeling that if you’re going to spend a lot of money making a movie you need to know there is a preexisting audience that’s going to go see it. So there’s been this attempt to systematize the process of making movies and the problem is that if every movie is based on something else you already experienced, eventually it’s going to feel like kissing your sister … Under this philosophy they never would have made Star Wars or Indiana Jones or E.T. or Terminator! A lot of great franchises started because someone had a crazy idea that they thought was nuts and someone took a gamble on it. The studios originally said they wouldn’t make Independence Day unless they could call it War of the Worlds. There are some great franchises that are based on previous stuff, but as a recipe for the industry, it’s dangerous. The proof is that every year our (movie theater) attendance goes down … we’re losing people’s interest and it’s sad. There’s something very special and magical about the theatrical experience and it feels like it’s dying.
DC: I think that horror in particular is best as a shared experience in a theater.
DD: The great thing about horror movies is that they have been greatly over-performing at the box office because horror fans know that experiencing a horror movie in the movie theater is very different than watching that movie at home. When you’re in the theater with a room full of strangers and you’re all facing your fears together in a dark room, there is this collective catharsis that happens that is completely unique to scary movies and it’s a real reason to go to the movie theater.
DC: I just saw Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich, which is a total gore-fest and a real treat to watch in a theater with an audience … by the end I thought to myself, that would have still been great to have watched at home, but watching with an audience made it exponentially more fun!
DD: It’s not just the gasps, it’s usually the laughter right after the gasps, because people are embarrassed that they gasped in the first place so they laugh. I must have read over 200 tweets about people saying that they spilled popcorn while watching Bad Samaritan. I’ll take that over an Oscar any day of the week! Having popcorn thrown in your lap from the guy sitting next to you makes me feel like I did my job.