20 May 2014

Behind the Legends of Oz

Legends of Oz is shaping up to be a legendary flop at the American box office, a computer-animated musical based on a well-known property that’s not only losing money (such movies are expensive) but hardly making any money.

After a week and a half of wide release (over 2,500 theaters), it’s made less than $7 million. Adjusted for the cost of tickers, that’s even worse than Hoot and The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising.

It turns out that financing has been an issue for Legends of Oz all along, as documented in a Metafilter post cleverly titled “Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain”:
Alpine Pictures, aka Summertime Entertainment, aka Box Office Productions, aka Dorothy of Oz LLC, began selling shares in the film in 2006, at a projected budget of $20m. By 2009, having sold close to $18m in shares, the offering was expanded to $24m. The offering would be expanded again later, with reference to future Oz sequels, merchandising, and an Oz-themed MMORPG. The film's release was repeatedly pushed back.

Complaints appeared online as early as 2008 about a Burbank, California-based telemarketing firm, First National Information Network, that appeared to exist only to aggressively solicit strangers for investments in Oz. Others report seeing the film promoted on the Global Information Network, a listing of spurious investment opportunities hawked by jailed con man Kevin Trudeau. Potential investors were told they could use retirement accounts if cash wasn't available.

Cease-and-desist orders have been issued against Alpine by the states of Delaware, Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Texas, Alabama, Washington and California for alleged violations of SEC rules against general solicitation. Alpine allegedly targeted naive, unaccredited investors with cold calls; painted unrealistic pictures of the film's potential; and collected 40% "consulting fees" on the money raised.
(Hat tip to Laura Gjovaag.)

No comments: