Mars mission

The revival of a cult TV show via Kickstarter suggests a new business model for creative projects

Written by The Indian Express | Published:March 15, 2013 3:03 am

Six years after the low-rated but beloved US TV show,Veronica Mars,came to a premature end,it is being resurrected — on celluloid,no less. A movie had been rumoured practically from the moment of the show’s cancellation,but the Hollywood studio that owns the property,Warner Bros,evidently didn’t consider it a good investment. In a last-ditch effort to get a movie going,the show’s creators and actors,with the help of crowdfunding website Kickstarter,tried to get the fans to put their money where their mouths are. The fans rose to the challenge; the project met its $2 million target in less than a day. Warner Bros will market and distribute the movie but its production budget will come entirely from fans. The bigger question now: will other rudely abbreviated pop culture touchstones like Deadwood or Carnivale find an afterlife,following the Veronica Mars example?

Kickstarter was envisaged as a way for creative projects like music,documentaries,concerts and paintings to circumvent normal methods of fundraising and raise money via crowdfunding. Crowdfunding relies primarily on small donations — most common on Kickstarter is $25 — from a large number of people,thus distributing and minimising risk. Incentives such as product tie-ins or greater access to the creator are offered,though donors cannot expect a share of the profit,if any. In its three-plus years of existence,some art projects funded through Kickstarter have been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York,while Inocente,a documentary short,won its category at the Oscars this year.

Now,major studios appear to be recognising the potential of crowdfunding,which could be a testing ground for studios unsure of a movie or serial’s appeal. The notion that a project must satisfy a broad audience to be successful can be tested against the idea that intensity of interest could yield results,too. Veronica Mars’s success in reaching its goal could lead to new models that monetise depth of interest.

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