Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return
set a record for the all-time worst opening weekend for an animated film
. Executive Producer Greg Centineo attributed the failure to a "conspiracy" of Hollywood's powers-that-be
against independent production company Alpine Pictures. In light of Oz
's glacially-delayed release schedule and shabby production values, it would appear that the heads of Alpine are completely incompetent…or are they?
Much of the animation was produced in India at Prana Studios, a popular outsourcee for major studios like Disney. At $70m, Oz
was "the most expensive CGI film ever produced at [Prana]."
(For comparison: the second-tier Disney sequel Planes
was co-produced at Prana on a budget of $50m.)
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
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.
and future (perhaps one day profitable?) projects, Alpine has raised an additional $75m from Chinese investors through Serenity Media Group
, its $150 million partnership for US-Chinese film coproduction and distribution.