14 Oct New show will promote capitalism and slam socialism
Some of the folks behind The Chosen, one of Hollywood’s earliest "equity" crowdfunded shows, will distribute an animated series based on The Tuttle Twins, a group of children’s books that promote capitalism and free markets and decry socialism, Newsweek learned on Tuesday.
The best-selling 11 books include titles like The Tuttle Twins Learn About the Law, a simplified version of French political economist Frederic Bastiat’s work, The Law; The Tuttle Twins and the Creature From Jekyll Island, about a "powerful creature" stealing their grandparent’s money; and The Tuttle Twins and the Road to Surfdom, about how central planning (like government bureaucrats’ insistence on a new road to the beach) can ruin lives.
The Tuttle Twins "teaches our kids why America has succeeded, what the principles of freedom are and how they can stand up for those principles," said Daniel Harmon, who will direct the TV show. The books have sold 1.4 million copies thus far.
"Hollywood won’t touch a show like this; too many truth bombs, not enough F bombs," an actor playing a teacher says in a Tuttle Twins humorous promotional video that explains equity crowdfunding and the intent of the show to prospective investors. The video, embedded in this story, compares Tuttle Twins to animated shows like Phineas and Ferb, The Magic School Bus and The Simpsons.
Equity crowdfunding was made possible via a law passed during President Barack Obama‘s administration that allows people who give money to a project to profit from their investment, unlike they do with traditional crowdfunding where a donation to a film or TV show might get you a free DVD, a part as an extra, lunch with a celebrity or some other trifle.
VidAngel, founded by Neal and Daniel Harmon, previously used equity crowdfunding to raise $10 million for The Chosen, a streaming show about the life of Jesus Christ, each episode of which is watched by about 4 million people, according to National Research Group. The Harmons intend to raise about $1 million for Tuttle Twins.
Like The Chosen, VidAngel will distribute the Tuttle Twins series. While VidAngel is a distribution and production studio, it is perhaps best known for its streaming service that strips out scenes of movies deemed inappropriate for family audiences, though not Disney or Warner Bros. films after those companies sued.
VidAngel agreed up to pay $9.9 million in damages to multiple studios and it recently emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Neal Harmon tells Newsweek that The Chosen is profitable enough after two seasons to pay for an additional five, and profits could presumably flow to equity crowdfunders after the series wraps its seventh season, if not sooner. According to NRG, the series draws an audience similar to that of well-know shows like Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad.
VidAngel partnered with Tuttle Twins Show LLC, the production company behind the effort, to distribute the upcoming streaming series. The books are written by Connor Boyack and illustrated by Elijah Stanfield and feature the 11-year-old Tuttle Twins, a boy and girl. Each book is based on the works of famous capitalists—the seventh in the series is dedicated to Ayn Rand while the fifth is dedicated to Charles Koch, for example, and the show will add the element of the brother and sister occasionally traveling back in time to meet luminary historical figures.
With both The Chosen and Tuttle Twins, the business model dictates that profits go into future episodes in the early stages and that those who are making and distributing the shows don’t take money out until it is also shared with investors.
The first episode of what’s called Tuttle Twins (they dropped the word The) will debut in 2021, and, while it intends to make roughly 70 percent of its revenue via the sale of merchandise, as is typical with an animated children’s show, it will also generate cash via the "pay forward" method used by The Chosen. The method allows for fans who like the show to donate money to the project and VidAngel has used it quite successfully, gathering more than $10 million from 400,000 fans of The Chosen who enjoyed the show enough to pay it forward so that it can expand its reach.
"Hollywood serves the market by making what they think audiences like, but it’s more about what the Hollywood bubble likes. Our studio model allows us not to guess; we let the audience decide," said Neal Harmon.
"The principles of freedom are actually unifying but people don’t often know what that looks like. Especially kids," said Daniel Harmon.
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