Kickstarter Krap Or "What I Learned On (Veronica) Mars"

A couple days ago the collective universe had a nerdgasm when it was announced that cult favorite "Veronica Mars"was coming to Kickstarter. The fan funding or crowd sourcing web site that began as a way to help indie film makers get their films made or distributed was now being used as a way to get funding for major studio projects. Does The "Veronica Mars" project violate the spirit for which Kickstarter was created, or is it just another group of impassioned fans finally having their voice heard?

First, some context. "Veronica Mars" was an hour long detective drama/comedy that ran on first the UPN and later The CW between 2004 and 2007. It followed the title character (the lovely Sarah Marshall herself, Kristen Bell) who progresses through high school, than college as a student by day/private investigator by night. While never a mainstream success, The series certainly did well enough on the struggling minor networks and inspired an extremely devoted fan base who seem to have chocked the Wikipedia page for the show with more hyperbole than a 1998 episode of WCW Monday Nitro.

Kickstarter is the internet's premier force in what it calls "crowd sourcing." The basic concept began as a place where independent artists (filmmakers, authors, comic book creators...etc.) could ask the general public for help either completing, selling or distributing their product. In turn for their monetary donation to the project, people would receive a "prize" or "gift." These prizes range from something as small as a thanks during the credits of a film all the way up to red carpet premiers, autographs and executive producer credits. Your level of prize usually is dependent on the level of donation you make.

That brings us to Ms. Mars. A show that is still owned by Warner Brothers and still makes them a hefty chunk of change every year through international distribution and DVD sales. Shortly after it's cancellation, show creator Rob Thomas (not the Matchbox 20 guy) wrote a big screen continuance for the show. Warner Brothers, citing the fact that less than 2 and a half million people watched the third season on a fifth place (at the time) network, decided to pass, much to the chagrin of Thomas, Bell and fans everywhere.

Fast forward from cancellation to 6 years later when Warner Brothers essentially tells Thomas "Alright smart guy. You raise 2 million dollars we'll make the film." Thomas calls their bluff, takes to Kickstarter with a message not only from himself but from Kristen herself - so you know it's legit. 12 hours later not only did the project reach its 30 day goal of 2 million dollars it ahd surpassed it and set the interwebs a buzz in the process. So what's the issue?

Let me preface this by saying I have nothing against Thomas, Bell, Veronica Mars, or it's fans. My issue has to do with the bullshit Warner Brothers pulled here and the precedent it sets for future cult hit projects. Essentially the success of the Veronica Mars project has given the major studios a huge out in committing funds to projects. You can guarantee every major studio executive in the world is licking their chops thinking "You want to pay for the film and then pay to watch it too? Woo fucking Hoo!"  Then they do a Yosemite Sam dance and shoot their guns in the air. At least that's how I imagine it in my mind anyway.

The idea that a major studio needs "help" funding a major motion picture is laughable. Essentially what Warner Brothers did here is stick you, the fans with a two million dollar bill for the film. Oh sure you get a copy of the script...but you still have to pay to see the movie.  Again, this has nothing to do with the film makers, Bell or the fans. I understand if you love something you want to see more of it. But it's a dangerous step to take for the hardcore fans. These are the same fans that brought back Family Guy and rallied behind Firefly. They got their wishes with those shows - without having to pay for it themselves.

Warner Brothers has already stated they will commit in excess of 12 million on distribution and promotion of the film. This just adds even further insult to injury. In doing so, Warner Brothers is admitting they have a viable product.  They know Veronica Mars has a committed fan base and a film based on the series will make them money. They just want to make the most money possible by making you pay for the cost of the the film - And that there folks is complete and utter bullshit.

So next time, and yes there will be a next time, a major studio asks you to pay for one of their films call them on their crap.

Until next time...enjoy every sandwich...

1 comment:

  1. You make a good point, however people who backed this kickstarter project were also getting exclusive rewards that were not available to the general public, and really the goal was to resurrect a dead show both from the fans and the creator. What happens after that may be f'd up, but the goal of everyone involved with the kickstarter project was fulfilled. Kickstarter is just to get the project funded and hopefully made. Everything that happens afterwards is independent of the platform.

    It was definitely a win-win for WB, but if this project did not happen, then the creators of the show and fans would not get to see their fantasy of a VM movie come true. I am wary about studios getting involved with kickstarter projects, and destroying the whole meaning of the platform, but I think the CEO of kickstarter has a solid vision for the platform and has turned down high profile bids to buy the company and poison the purpose of kickstarter.