William Shatner fans bought up all the shares in the actor’s forthcoming feature-length documentary “You Can Call Me Bill” in less than a week — shelling out nearly $790,000 and topping the film’s funding goal.
Legion M’s equity crowdfunding round for the Shatner documentary, exploring the life and career of the beloved 91-year-old actor, as of Monday had sold out from reservation holders before the company opened the offering to the public. Within four days, the project raised $789,655 from 1,338 investors.
Unlike with other crowdfunding models, Legion M lets investors own an equity stake in the entertainment projects they’re backing. With the Shatner doc, fans were able to invest directly in the Shatner documentary for a minimum of $100, subject to certain SEC restrictions, and they will recoup their money before any profits are shared with Shatner, Legion M or the film’s producer, Exhibit A Pictures. While the offering has already reached the cap, fans can still sign up on the waitlist at this link.
The film is touted as “an intimate portrait of William Shatner’s personal journey across nine decades of a boldly lived and fully realized life.” The documentary “strips away all the masks he has worn during his storied career” — from Captain James T. Kirk to T.J. Hooker and from Alexander the Great to the Priceline Negotiator — “to reveal the man behind it all.”
“We heard loud and clear from our community that they were interested in direct investments into our projects and they backed that up by raising over $750,000 — fully funding a feature film before we even had a chance to announce the offering was open,” Legion M co-founders Paul Scanlan and Jeff Annison said in a statement. “Our signature fan-first financing model puts audience investors at the front of the line and we’re excited for the success of this to serve as a prototype to build towards future projects with higher budgets.”
Shatner, who promoted the project at San Diego Comic-Con last summer, said in a statement at the time, “For years I’ve had people approaching me to do a documentary about my life, but I turned them all down because it didn’t feel like the right fit. When I heard how Legion M wanted to incorporate audiences to be a part of it, it was perfect. Fans have been responsible for my career — it only seems right that they should own this doc.”
Once the film is complete, Legion M plans to sell distribution rights to “one or more partners around the world… Our hope is that the film will be available for wide release in 2023, though the final release plan and date(s) won’t be known until we’ve secured distribution.”
The documentary has a production budget of $565,101, according to Legion M’s listing. After “You Can Call Me Bill” deducts expenses to third parties for accounting, legal, marketing and administrative fees, 100% of any revenue generated will be distributed proportionally to the film’s investors until they have recouped their initial investment. Any additional net revenue after that will be split, with 33% going to shareholders and 67% distributed to the producers of the film (Legion M, Shatner and Exhibit A).
In addition to garnering a potential financial payback, investors in “You Can Ball Me Bill” will have their names listed in the film’s credits.
“You Can Call Me Bill” is directed by Alexandre O Philippe, produced by Kerry Deignan Roy and Jeff Annison, and executive produced by Shatner, Paul Scanlan, Terri Lubaroff, David Baxter and Matt Kemner. Other films in Legion M’s portfolio include “Archenemy” and “Mandy.”
In 2021, at the age of 90, Shatner became the oldest person to travel into space on Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin shuttle. In his autobiography “Boldly Go: Reflections on a Life of Awe and Wonder” published last year, the actor said the experience left him with “among the strongest feelings of grief I have ever encountered.”
“Every day, we are confronted with the knowledge of further destruction of Earth at our hands: the extinction of animal species, of flora and fauna,” Shatner wrote in the book. “My trip to space was supposed to be a celebration; instead, it felt like a funeral.”