Opinion: Is Kickstarter a Good Thing for the Movies?
It’s really simple economics when it comes to movies: studios want as many people as possible to see a movie. More people equals more money. You’re still with me, right?
Popularity, however, isn’t necessarily all about the quantity. I have seen some crazy fandoms over the years – ranging from FOX’s Arrested Development to HBO’s The Wire with pretty much everything in between (how could I not mention FOX’s Firefly or NBC’s Community?). These fandoms make up for the quantity by offering the quality. They love their shows, movies, franchise, or whatever you want to call them.
To me, fandoms are one of the reasons the industry is so fun. I still remember hearing they were bringing Arrested Development back and being giddy with excitement.
Then, less than a year and a half ago, a Kickstarter project popped up for UPN’s Veronica Mars. This allowed the audience to have a say – and a share – in the project’s development.
Let’s go back to Kickstarter real quick. For those that don’t know, Kickstarter is a crowdfunding platform for would-be developers to get funding. The cool thing about Kickstarter is that the developers can set kickbacks, meaning if you donate x amount of dollars you’ll receive y. An example could be that $25 gets you a DVD of a movie if/when it gets released. Or, in this case, $3 gets you a bite of potato salad. Kickstarter takes a fee, then the developer takes the rest. Win, win. Right?
However, is Kickstarter a good thing for the movies?
Not to be wishy-washy, but the answer lies somewhere in between yes and no.
On the one hand, Kickstarter is perfect for indie filmmakers. Independent movies don’t have the support of big studios (or small studios for that matter), meaning they truly need the generosity of others. This also gives people the opportunity to support projects they’re passionate about or simply interested in.
In theory, this movie could end up being successful and making a filmmaker’s career possible.
Then why would do people cringe at the thought of a Veronica Mars movie? Or in the case of this weekend, why are people scared to support Zach Braff’s Wish I Was Here?
This is where I am against using Kickstarter to fund a film project. Studios – like Warner Brothers in the case of Veronica Mars – don’t need your money like indie filmmakers. This sets a precedent for on-the-cusp films in the future. Since studios want to maximize profits, they can now demand money upfront while taking fan’s money later when they actually see the movie. In reality, projects should be made because of fans’ support in the first place.
In a way, it creates a weird paradox.
Don’t get me wrong, I identify myself as a member of plenty of fandoms. If given the opportunity, I’d probably fork out money for a 24 or Arrested Development movie; however, I can still wake up and smell the roses. This is a manipulation and there’s no way around it.
As long as these Kickstarter-funded projects continue to generate the big studios even more money, I don’t see this phenomena going away. It’s just a matter of time before we get Reading Rainbow back. Oh wait, that already happened?
In the end, I am completely against big(ger) films getting extra relief at the expense of hardcore fans. It creates a precedent that I’m afraid will continue in the future while hurting the indie filmmakers that legitimately need Kickstarter or similar crowdfunding services.
What are your thoughts about the whole situation? Sound off below!
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