A reader pushes back:
Your readers are wrong on a few key points about the Veronica Mars movie. First, depending on the deal, Warner Bros will not be getting all the profits. Producers and others will get a cut, actors will be paid royalties, etc. Furthermore, WB is distributing the movie and promoting it. This costs quite a bit of money. So there is not “no risk”, as one reader claimed. And having that corporate muscle at your back can make a big difference. But WB believed that there wasn’t a fanbase for this movie that was willing to pay for it, and they have good reason to be skeptical (I’m looking at you, Snakes on a Plane). Also, if you really gave $100, you would get to see the movie for free because they’ll be sending you a digital copy of it (as stated in the rewards). As for transparency, the Kickstarter video clearly states that they need $2 million to get off the ground, but that all additional funds will be used to expand the film (able to do more action/effects/locations, etc).
Now, this shouldn’t be the model for all productions, but for a cult show with a loving fanbase that has been wanting it for years, this sounds just about right. Kickstarter is about making projects that people want but wouldn’t be funded otherwise, how does Veronica Mars not fit that mold?
Can we please stop with the crowd sourcing snobbery. I’ve never seen Veronica Mars, but this movie kickstarter is an unmitigated good. A dormant intellectual property with a passionate fan base is being used to create something new. The creators get to work on a project they love, the fans get a movie they’ve been hoping for, and yes, a studio makes money. No one loses here.
Plus, if your reader had looked at the Kickstarter page, he or she would have realized that the backers are getting much more than a T-shirt for $100. Here is how much each piece of swag they are offering would cost if they were unbundled:
Digital Script: $10
Digital Movie: $10
Blue ray: $25
Complete TV Series: $75
Just by selling these products at reasonable prices they raised ~$1.7 million. What is much more interesting is that by selling things like a 15 second voicemail greeting by one of the cast members ($500 for Kristen Bell, $350 for others), tickets to the premier and after party ($1,000), being a background actor ($2,500), and even a line in the movie as a waiter ($10,000), they were able to raise ~$1.2 million.
Some may worry that letting fans pay to get this close and even become a part of the process jeopardizes artistic integrity, but for years Hollywood and the Indie movie scene have been luring in big money by offering access to the glitz and mystique of movie making. Now Kickstarter is allowing producers to offer a piece of that to their fans too. Plus it’s a hell of a lot more transparent because everyone knows the waiter paid to be in the movie. I expect we’ll see more movies and creative endeavors take this fan involvement approach. (Maybe if the Dish can’t make it’s budget in future years I’ll hear Andrew greeting me on my friends voicemail.)
It sits poorly with me when anyone thinks they get to determine how a crowd “should” behave. Perhaps Veronica Mars rests uncomfortably inside the current tent of crowd-sourced projects, the Dish included, that are truly independent and transparent. But maybe the tent is going to get bigger and more various, with crowd-sourcing doing something simpler: giving the people what they want. If the people want a corporate-owned franchise that doesn’t release revenue figures, so be it. I think their priority, in this instance, is spending time with characters in a universe they love. Who are we to judge?