The startup Legion M was founded in 2016 as “the world’s first fan-owned media company” by Paul Scanlan and Jeff Annison. In addition to partnering with an array of established fan-centric production companies and digital geek culture brands, Legion M has crowdfunded over $2 million from 7000 fan investors via WeFunder. With a relatively steep $100 minimum investment and the explicit promise to “open the gates of Hollywood” and give fans input into content creation, Legion M represents a decisive break from prior fan funding or “fanancing” efforts, like the crowdfunded Veronica Mars film (Scott, 2015). Because the JOBS Act of 2012 and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s adoption of Title IV in 2015 has opened the door for Legion M and other “fananced” media initiatives, we are now confronted with happens when fan "investment" is rendered literal.
While Legion M fans/funders might have a vested interest, both affectively and economically, in the company’s productions, what Legion M is ultimately selling is the promise of access to and a tangible sense of ownership over the creative process of mainstream media prodiction. What they deliver is a pedagogical vision of corporatized fan culture, in which the perks of professionalization (e.g. access to “pitch elevator” contents, Hollywood premiere and parties, and celebrities) are valued above creative autonomy or fan community.
This is clearly messaged in both their correspondence with fan investors, as well as their public web presence and promotional videos such as this one, which promises fan investors a “seat at the table” and discursively touts the collective power of fans, while offering no meaningful opportunity to have a “voice in the process.” Legion M may very well be “of the fans,” and “for the fans,” but it is pointedly not “by the fans.”
Scott, Suzanne. “The moral economy of crowdfunding and the transformative capacity of fan-ancing.” New Media & Society 17.2 (2015): 167–182.