Veronica Mars is/was a much-loved tv show that ran for 3 seasons. Most notably it launched the career of Kristen Bell (and featured an early and very short appearance from Amanda Seyfried). Something of a genre mashup – a fun noir set around school kids – it followed Veronica Mars as a proto-PI solving cases at her school (including the murder of her best friend, and her own rape at a party).
When its run ended there was a lot of talk about a follow-up film, and apparently a few deals that nearly went through and then fell apart. The movie, the studio said, didn’t have a guaranteed audience – at least not one big enough to punt a few million dollars on.
Then the team got back together and launched the project on Kickstarter. They set a target of $2 million (the largest ever for a film project). In less than 12 hours they got $2.4 million, and are tracking to make $39 million at the current rate.
A few things are now going to happen:
1) The film is going to get made
And then some. Whilst $2 million is a relatively small amount to make a film with, what was going to be a labour of love for the cast and principal crew can now become something more clearly professional. And I wouldn’t be surprised if Warner Brothers don’t kick in a little too…
2) The movie studios are going to sit up and take notice
Warner Brothers, who own Veronica Mars, are like most corporations fairly hot on copyright theft and so on – but they gave their permission for this to go ahead. Why? Well, it’s a safe bet for them. If the project fails then the film doesn’t get made and they lose nothing. If it succeeds then they’ve discovered that there is an audience out there for the film – without taking on any financial risk. Since they’ve also already signed on to distribute the film, they now have something that is almost guaranteed (Hollywood accounting aside) not to lose them money.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see a lot more projects like this coming to life – it’s far more effective than merely petitioning to keep your favourite show alive; studios listen to money far more than they do to angry emails.
3) You are going to see a lot more articles like this one.
The industry has changed! The numbers are so big! How exciting! Expect the blogosphere to go mad. We’re only getting away with this because it’s fairly early in the day.
Crowdfunding studio-esque projects – is that really fair? Shouldn’t crowdfunding be reserved for the really cool stuff like Love.Honour.Obey.?
Well yes and no… Crowdfunding is still in its infancy really and we’ve yet to see it really embraced by big businesses. Whilst there will probably always be really cool low-budget projects like Love.Honour.Obey. on places like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, I wouldn’t be surprised to see studios building their own crowdfunding systems into their own sites. Want to keep your favourite show going? Want to see your beloved comic become a film? Put your money where your mouth is. Will that pull money away from the smaller crowdfunded projects? Perhaps.
Also – what happens if the movie turns a huge profit, bringing in say $100 million from a $20 million budget? Will the crowdfunders see any of that?
Expect more insightful insight from other insightful commentators… everywhere.