Forget ‘Dancing With the Stars’ — Bring on the LXD

As a fan, supporter, and huge proponent of Web video’s power to be a launching pad, a destination, and a marketing vehicle, I was pretty excited to learn of Agility Studio’s freshman effort, “The Legion of Extraordinary Dancers,” also known as LXD.

You can see the trailer for the program here on director Jon M. Chu’s YouTube channel.

“LXD is a multiplatform franchise with content that will span Internet, live events, wireless, instructional video, film, television, licensing and merchandising,” said Scott Ehrlich, Agility Studios CEO, in a news release, explaining why Agility is going with Chu. “It is the quintessential project our company looks for. It has multiple revenue streams and, in Jon M. Chu, a premium talent who is fluent in all media and known for consistently delivering great product.”

This approach, in addition to the stellar production values, is exciting. Not to mention that Agility has secured brand integration in the form of a deal with PUMA — something it managed to do very early on. The series, which will officially hit in coming weeks, begins with a 10-episode first volume to familiarize people with the concept — a good-versus-evil scripted series set in the world of dance crews.

Agility Studios, announced with a bang in November 2008, is the brainchild of industry vet Scott Ehrlich, who started the company with Larry Tanz and Keith Quinn, both formerly with LivePlanet. (For those of you keeping score, that’s the Matt Damon/Ben Affleck production company that brought the world wonders such as “Project Greenlight.” For a laugh, here’s a young Shia LaBeouf from way back when.)

In addition to these production heavyweights, Agility brought in Shannon Pruitt to be Senior VP, integrated sales and sponsorships. Pruitt’s experience at Mark Burnett Productions (“Survivor”) and FremantleMedia (“American Idol”) is something not always seen in digital studios of this size and in the end may be the straw that stirs the drink.

Chu is something of a brand name, having directed “Step Up 2: The Streets.” On a budget of less than $20 million, it grossed $150 million worldwide.

But more than having a “name” director on the Web, his approach, using YouTube to find his dancers and being ingrained in the community, makes this franchise feel like it’s truly of the Web. And when I say ingrained, Chu and his crew performed at the highly produced YouTube Live event, which took place this past November. (If you can spare five minutes, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more joyous celebration of dance than this over-the-top extravaganza that the LXD, Chu’s homegrown dance crew, put on for “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” live at Caesars Palace.

To date, few have managed to pull off this combination of YouTube firepower and industry heavyweights who know their way around licensing, distribution, marketing, promotion, and solid brand integration. And as YouTube ramps up its desire to be a destination of choice for major brands, the LXD and those “franchises” that follow are definitely ones to watch.

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