Much to the pleasure of Veronica Mars fans across the world, the character made famous by Kristen Bell lives again thanks to Kickstarter. Creator Rob Thomas has raised (as of Thursday, March 21), more than $3.7 million, its goal was $2 million.
That means fans will see more of Veronica Mars, and on the big screen no less. There’s been a lot of buzz about this new model, with the big question looming: Is this good for movie fans?
Why it’s good
I know where Veronica Mars fans are coming from. I loved the Friday Night Lights TV series. But it was ratings challenged and ended after five seasons, with a rabid fan base wishing there was some way to continue the story. Since then, there’s been talk and rumors about bringing it to the big screen. Sound familiar?
The advantages to at least partially funding a movie through Kickstarter is clear: Fans can get more of what they love. Not only that, they can feel like they’re part of the process and take a sense of ownership and pride. And often there are perks involved. Veronica Mars’ Kickstarter offered incentives from going to the premiere and afterparty to a private showing, even offering some a chance to be an extra on the film. As a fan, it would be an experience you wouldn’t forget.
Why it’s bad
I’ve got to be honest, though. Even if it costs me a chance to ever see a FNL movie, there are a number of reasons Kickstarter is a bad development for movie fans.
First, the incentives are cool, but they’re not worth it. For $2,500 you could be an extra in the Veronica Mars film. Last year, I was an extra for The Incredible Burt Wonderstone. You know how much I paid to do that? Nothing. In fact, they paid me. A $10,000 donation would get you one line in the film. You know who else used the pay-to-act tactic? Uwe Boll. Just saying.
Second, movies are already a pricey endeavor for fans. I saw a movie in Las Vegas recently and it cost me $17. For one ticket. Now studios are asking us to pay to make the film and then asking us to support the film financially. So, where’s the return on investment? If the movie turns out to be great, the studios will rake in millions of dollars in revenues and the Kickstarter backers get none of that.
And if the movie bombs? Kickstarter backers don’t get to be involved creatively. Normally, when you invest in something, you have a say about the final result. If things aren’t going well, you can step in or remove your investment. There’s no opportunity to do that here.
Since Kickstarter funding eliminates the financial risk for studios, the method is probably here to stay. And if the studio’s financial risk is minimal, expect a lot more terrible films to come out. Yet don’t be surprised if the future holds big blockbusters turning to Kickstarter as well. These films can be expensive and if they can get even a couple million more from people, you bet studios will do that.
Good or bad?
For die-hard fans, I suppose it could be worth it, but this development could start a trend where studios ask us to support potential films before their release. And you know what we’ll get? The “privilege” of paying $17, even if you tell the ticket booth that you’re a Kickstarter backer.