×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Entertainment One to Enlist Wattpad Superfans for Feedback on Scripts Based on User-Written Stories

In an unusual move, Entertainment One plans to share TV pilot scripts for two Wattpad stories it’s adapting as series with the most passionate fans of the original tales — bringing them into the development process.

Under its partnership with Wattpad, the Toronto-based production and media company is developing shows based on dystopian drama “The Numbered” by MJ Gary and time-travel romance “Kairos” by Leigh Heasley. EOne moved forward on the pair of projects after looking at dozens of potential candidates, flagged in batches of 10 per month by Wattpad out of the 500 million-plus stories on the story-sharing community. Those were culled based on eOne’s criteria centered around YA and sci-fi genres and female-driven dramas.

To adapt the stories, eOne is bringing in its own scriptwriters — which is a standard Hollywood practice. For “The Numbered,” it has tapped Sabrina Sherif (aka Sabrina Nouadir), whose credits include Netflix’s “Another Life,” the CW’s “iZombie,” and the company is looking to line up a writer for “Kairos.”

What isn’t standard operating procedure: eOne wants to take the scripts for each TV show to superfans of the original Wattpad stories to get their opinion on what works — and what doesn’t — at various stages in the development cycle, said Jocelyn Hamilton, president of eOne Television Canada. Starting later this summer, the company in partnership with Wattpad hopes to assemble groups of about two dozen fans each of “The Numbered” and “Kairos” to help shape the storylines before shopping the shows to networks and streaming services this fall.

“This is different and experimental,” Hamilton said. While such early audience focus-group testing often happens for kids’ TV shows, “in adult television we don’t do that.” Part of the reason is that producers don’t want plot details — which are subject to change — to become public in the development phase. Hamilton said eOne will ask Wattpad fans it consults with “to sign something that says they won’t leak it.”

For eOne, tapping into the user-generated stories on Wattpad is “just another arm of finding new voices,” Hamilton said. “It’s finding a needle in a haystack.” But, she said, the Wattpad partnership has yielded stories “we wouldn’t find elsewhere. The concepts are new and interesting and fresh. If we want to be in that younger-skewing arena, there aren’t many places to find things of that nature.”

Wattpad provides an entirely different way for TV and movies producers to benchmark audience engagement with a story, given the company’s reams of data, said Allen Lau, co-founder and CEO. Using audience data via Wattpad’s commenting feature, it can pull the exact moments in the story that inspired strong, neutral, or weaker reactions. It also looks at the different ways users interact with a story, including the number of reads attached to an individual story, reading time, commenting and sentiment, and shares.

“We are providing insights that didn’t exist before,” Lau said, noting that Wattpad users submit upwards of 500,000 comments on the service every day.

“The Numbered,” first published in 2013, has 4.9 million reads on Wattpad with users spending more than 20 million minutes reading the story. It’s set in an alternate world where everyone is assigned a genetic rating at birth that determines their capabilities, opportunities, and rights — except for five teens who were mysteriously mis-numbered. In analyzing data for “The Numbered,” Wattpad found dramatic spikes of engagement at certain points, particularly in chapter 24, which included the revelation that one of the characters introduced is gay. That clearly indicated that eOne’s adaptation should highlight that story arc.

Meanwhile, “Kairos,” first published in 2017, has relatively fewer reads (almost 525,000) and time spent reading (nearly 600,000 minutes) but had seen stronger-than-average engagement over the entirety of the story. Set in a near future where time travel isn’t just possible but commonplace and commercialized, protagonist Ada Bloom signs up for temporal matchmaking service Kairos, which lets clients travel back in time to date suitors of bygone eras.

In chapter 41 of “Kairos,” Ada accepts a proposal from one man over another — which sparked a vicious debate on Wattpad between the two choices. In chapters 81-91, the love complications only get more twisted, which resulted in a flurry of commenting activity. That reader reaction can inform how characters should be depicted, information eOne is incorporating into its adaptation.

The eOne pact is one of several Wattpad (which also is based in Toronto) has struck in its push into the entertainment biz. The company has similar development deals with Sony Pictures Television and Universal Cable Prods., as well as with France’s Lagardère Studios, Germany’s Bavaria Fiction, Singapore’s Mediacorp, and Huayi Brothers Korea.

In addition, Wattpad produces teen thriller “Light as a Feather” with Viacom’s Awesomeness and Grammnet for Hulu, with season 2 slated to debut July 6. Netflix’s romance movie “The Kissing Booth” started on Wattpad, where the story by Beth Reekles accumulated over 19 million reads, and a sequel is in development. And the film adaptation of “After,” based on Wattpad writer Anna Todd’s One Direction-inspired YA romance story and subsequent best-selling novel, has grossed over $67 million at the global box office (including $12 million domestically). A sequel to the movie with stars Josephine Langford and Hero Fiennes-Tiffin reprising their roles, in currently in the works.

To be sure, eOne’s deals with Wattpad for “The Numbered” and “Kairos” are just a small slice of the 40-some TV projects it has in development. Hamilton said that even armed with the data about how the Wattpad stories have connected with readers, pitching series from unknown writers is a challenge. “In today’s world, people are looking for [intellectual property] that is known,” she said. “It’s a different hill than walking in with a Margaret Atwood novel.”

At the end of the day, adapting the Wattpad stories is not solely data-driven, Hamilton noted. “We read [the stories] the same way you would when you option a book,” she said. “It is more labor intensive because you’re taking amateur work and doing the heavy lifting to take it to a place where you can say, ‘Wow, this is great.'”

More Digital

  • hdhomerun roku app

    HDHomerun App Brings Live TV to Roku Devices

    Roku users are getting another way to watch live television with the help of their favorite streaming devices: Silicondust, maker of the HDHomerun TV tuners, has released a beta version of its HDHomerun app for Roku TVs and streaming devices. “We need to start out by saying this is very much a beta product,” the [...]

  • Vox Media

    Vox Media Staff Ratifies First Union Contract, Negotiated by Writers Guild

    Staffers at Vox Media, which includes Curbed, Eater, Polygon, Recode, SB Nation, The Verge and Vox.com, have ratified their first collective bargaining agreement with more than 90% in support. The staffers are represented by the Writers Guild of America East. Vox Media’s 350-member unit began bargaining their first contract in April 2018. The campaign to [...]

  • Joslyn Davis, Lily-Marston - Shared Media

    Clevver’s Joslyn Davis, Lily Marston Launch Their Own YouTube Media Venture (EXCLUSIVE)

    Here’s the latest chapter in the saga of Clevver, the entertainment/lifestyle YouTube network marooned by the shuttering of former parent Defy Media and subsequently snapped up by Hearst Magazines. Two of the principal creatives behind Clevver — Joslyn Davis and Lily Marston — together with Clevver Media co-founder Jorge Maldonado have launched Shared Media, their [...]

  • Money-Diaries-Refinery29

    Refinery29 to Produce Interactive Series Funded by Eko (EXCLUSIVE)

    Refinery29 has been bitten by the “Bandersnatch” bug. The millennial-female-focused digital media and entertainment company inked a pact with Eko, an interactive-video platform developer whose backers include Walmart, to produce several “choose-your-own-adventure”-style series based on Refinery29 content properties. The companies have started development on their first project: an interactive scripted adaptation of Refinery29’s popular “Money [...]

  • Dan Howell

    YouTube Star Dan Howell Comes Out as Gay: 'It Gets So Much Better'

    It’s Pride Month, and popular YouTube vlogger Dan Howell had a message for fans that he’d been working on for a year: “Basically, I’m Gay,” he shared in a video Thursday. In the 45-minute video, Howell discussed coming to terms with his sexual orientation and his thoughts on labels that people use to define themselves [...]

  • Netflix Expands Korean Content Commitment

    Netflix Expands Korean Content Commitment as Industry Deepens

    Global streaming giant, Netflix is expanding its involvement in the Korean film and TV industries by greenlighting several new shows and renewing others. “When we started three years ago, we had a high degree of confidence that Korean drama would work well in Asia, but we had no internal metrics of our own,” Korean content [...]

  • Instagram Logo

    Instagram Outage: Facebook’s Photo Sharing Service Went Down For Multiple Hours

    Instagram faced another major outage Thursday afternoon, with users from around the world reporting that they weren’t able to access Facebook’s photo sharing service via its app and website. An Instagram spokesperson told Variety around 5pm PT that the issue had been resolved: “Earlier today, a technical issue caused some people to have trouble accessing [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content