Although Greg Centineo, the producer and chief fundraiser of Summertime Entertainment’s Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return, had hoped for a big second weekend, the film plummeted 48% and ended its sophomore frame with $1.9 million. The movie has struggled to find a fan following, except for the film’s Facebook page which is filled with a curiously large number of middle-aged and elderly people who absolutely adore the film.

It’s increasingly becoming clear that these Facebook fans are among the film’s investors, some of whom can also be seen in this photo album of the film’s investor events. These are the people who gave Centineo a reported $60-70 million to produce Legends of Oz. If that figure holds accurate, it would be the most expensive CGI film ever produced at India’s Prana Studios.

According to one of the investors, Joe Occhiogrosso, the minimum required investment in the film was $100,000 per person. Here’s what he wrote on Facebook last February:

With an estimated one thousand investors in the project, that means that Centineo raised over $100 million to produce the film and its followups. And now that the film has tanked at the box office, the disappointed investors are pushing a new theory: that there was a conspiracy in Hollywood to destroy the film. If you recall, Centineo has subtly suggested the same scenario in interviews.

David Yancey, one of the film’s investors, wrote a rant on Facebook that he encouraged people to reprint. It spells out how the investors of the film believe that there was a concerted smear campaign coordinated between Hollywood studios and movie critics to bury their film’s chances. Here’s Yancey’s take:

The new animated movie Legends of Oz (NOW in theaters) is not owned by one of the big Hollywood studios, and the film needs your support. When you go to see this film, you are supporting over 1000 regular people just like you and me, who worked together for over a decade, through some of the worst economic times in history, to bring this project to the big screen for your enjoyment. Over 1000 regular people worked together on this massive project because they love and believe in the story of Oz — the original American fairytale. When everyone in Hollywood said it could never be done, it took a while but we all made it happen.

The big Hollywood studios do not want this effort to succeed because they don’t want any serious new competition. Maybe we got their attention because they amassed their army of top paid critics who wielded their poison pens in a smear campaign against this wonderful family picture. These seemingly aren’t just reviews of an average film not liked by critics, they are propaganda written expressly to dissuade everyone from seeing the film.

And yet over 90 percent of viewers (young and old) absolutely love the film. It looks like over 1000 regular folks just like us are in the classic battle of David and Goliath against the gigantic power of the Hollywood mega-studios.

Please see and support this film today. Tell your friends about #legendsofoz Share this post publically on Facebook to help spread the word about a good thing — about a film with love, adventure, teamwork and family values.

The following interview offers a good idea of Centineo’s future plans for the franchise, and presumably the pitch that was heard by the investors of the film. It’s a convincing story if you don’t know anything about how the film business works:

If you are an investor in Legends of Oz and have more details about how the investment was structured, please contact Cartoon Brew.

UPDATE: A Cartoon Brew commenter “R.I.” posted a link in one of our earlier posts to this massive 17-page comment thread in which people are discussing the histories of the people involved in the fundraising, providing links to SEC filings, and alleging deceptive practices in how the money was raised and spent.

Amid Amidi

Amid Amidi is Cartoon Brew's Publisher and Editor-at-large.