David Madden has been a senior content executive in TV and film for top Hollywood’s top shops, from Fox Television Studios to AMC Networks, Fox Broadcasting Co., Paramount to Greg Berlanti Prods., and he’s been an successful independent producer. But he’s never had such a pool of material to choose from as he has in the months since he joined Wattpad Webtoon Studios as global head of entertainment.
The latest episode Variety Podcast Strictly Business: Madden discusses his new mission to use data analytics and math to develop TV and film projects. He demonstrates this by explaining how he uses data analytics and math to draw on the many stories that have been submitted as comics or graphic novels to the Wattpad Webtoon digital platforms.
Madden’s Los Angeles-based content development team is alerted whenever one of thousands of user-generated stories that are uploaded per day begins to get traction with a critical mass of users.
“When it reaches a certain threshold, for us, it’s 100,000 reads, then it kind of gets on our radar,” Madden says. “And it goes to a very large group of book scouts In Toronto, which we call the content group. And they review anything that’s reached that threshold, they then anything they think could possibly be a movie could possibly be a TV show, they send to me and our teams, we have a film team, we have TV team and we have an animation team.”
At present Madden says he’s sorting through about 30 things a month. “We’ll cherry-pick the things that we actually think we can sell — things that actually feel like they fit the television and film market.”
Madden details the upstart company’s burgeoning efforts to grow by experimenting with independent films and streaming series and shows in a multitude of tongues.
Wattpad Webtoon doesn’t have any exclusive hold over the stories for their use. Surprisingly. It’s a negotiation from scratch each time Madden’s small team reaches out to an author “to make a shopping agreement,” He says. “So far every single time we’ve reached out to a Wattpad author, we’ve made a deal because they like the platform. They’re excited to be there.”
Madden was also an early career film executive at Paramount and 20th Century Fox. In addition, he had many years of experience as an independent producer. His new charter was at Wattpad Webtoon Studios. “I feel like I’m working for a 21st century company,” Madden says. “This company feels like it’s all potential. It’s all upside.”