Legendary Digital Entertainment announced today that it has acquired the feature length thriller “The Thinning,” toplined by Vine star Logan Paul and Disney Channel actress Peyton List (“Bunk’d”).
Production will begin in this month, and Legendary Digital will distribute direct to consumers via digital sell-through and video on demand. It marks Legendary Digital first foray into direct-to-digital influencer-driven filmmaking, popularized by the success of “Camp Takota,” “Expelled” and the just-released “The Outfield,” the latter of which recently debuted at top of the iTunes drama chart. It looks to be the first in a string of such moves for Legendary Digital, which says it plans to acquire rights to more films and series for direct to consumer distribution in 2016.
To promote the film, Legendary Digital will harness Paul and List’s combined 26 million social media followers, which Legendary says gives “The Thinning” one of the biggest social footprints of any digital film produced to date. (Sorry, but we’re not going to do the arithmetic.) Paul has more than 16 million followers, including 8.7 million on Vine and 5.2 million on Facebook, and his videos have generated over 1 billion views in the past three months. Compared to Paul, List’s social media following is relatively small, at just over 10 million followers, but her show “Bunk’d,” a spin-off of “Jessie,” ranked as Disney Channel’s #1 premiere of 2015.
“The Thinning” will target young adults with a plot that plays on their academic anxieties. The film is set in a dying world where population control is dictated by an aptitude test in high school. When two students discover the test hides a larger conspiracy, they must go against the system to expose it.
Michael Gallagher will direct “The Thinning” from a script he co-wrote with Steve Greene. Gallagher, Greene and Jana Winternitz, their partner in TotallySketch YouTube channel (1.1 million subscribers), were the winners of Legendary’s House of Horrors short film program, a joint initiative launched with YouTube Spaces last year to identify emerging creative talent. The short film from the trio was selected from over 150 submissions shot on gothic sets inspired by the works of Guillermo del Toro (director of parent company Legendary Pictures’ “Crimson Peak”) at YouTube Spaces in Los Angeles, London, Tokyo, Sao Paulo and New York.
Gallagher and Winternitz will produce “The Thinning” alongside partner Michael Wormser through their Cinemand label, along with content studio Kids at Play. Kids at Play’s Amy Laslett and Jason Berger will serve as executive producers.