The internet’s been awash the past 24 hours with excitement over a Kickstarter campaign that will bring Veronica Mars, a cult favorite TV series that was canceled three seasons in, to the big screen. The campaign’s a resounding success, reaching its $2,000,000 goal in the span of less than a day.
The fans that contributed are rightfully exalted, celebrating another beloved-but-cancelled TV show’s resurrection. That in and of itself isn’t a terrible thing. It only get’s terrible when you realize what their hard-earned dollar has merited them:
Nothing but an idea that’s already owned, and by a multi-billion dollar corporation no less.
$10 guarantees you a PDF, $25 a shirt, $10,000 a speaking part in the film. Here’s what your money won’t guarantee: a ticket to a good movie, or any movie. Payment for services not rendered because no service is being provided.
Instead, fans’ money now signifies a placeholder: $2,000,000 up front for the privilege to pay more later. In return, Warner Brothers is now tasking themselves (remember, it’s still ultimately their decision) with delivering a product to a very small, segmented part of nerd culture; a part of the culture that’s now redefining “pay for play” as “pay to pay for play”.
This could very well signal a paradigm shift as an already stingy industry finds out fans are willing to float the dough if they want something badly enough. Want Marvel to make a Dazzler movie? Howabout Freddy vs. Jason. vs. Ash? Here comes a cigar chomping studio exact ready to ask “How much is it worth to ya?” You say those projects are of no interest to you? Fine, but they are of interest to someone. And what happens when voting with your ticket-buying dollar gets replaced with actually voting with your dollar?
While it hasn’t occurred yet, what’s been inferred can potentially open a brand new revenue stream; one the movie-going populace seems all too ready to give in to as studios go about finding new ways to exploit anticipation. This potential game-changer, good or bad, leaves us pondering the likelihood of ideas paid for by the people, for the people, but leveraged by big business to create the world’s largest focus group – one where membership comes at the price not of a ticket, but instead the promise of one at a later date.
This of course reeks of another project championed by the internet, one whose supporters were all too ready to pat themselves on the back about until it finally manifested and reality sunk in. If Kickstarter had existed then, would similar hysteria have helped finance Snakes on a Plane? And would the end result have meant anything more than another middling effort clogging up theatres?
Fans hoping for a great Veronica Mars film could very well end up with one, but it doesn’t change the fact that Warner Brothers is by no means beholden to deliver anything of quality. All that was proven is how willing we are to pay for nothingness now so we can pay for something later on.