Comments on watching and making films.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Veronica Mars, Crowd Funding, and the easiest decision Warner Brothers ever made.

Earlier today it was announced that the cult TV show Veronica Mars would be coming back as a movie, assuming they could crowd fund the production costs through Kickstarter. Some people have taken this opportunity to publicly wonder if Warner Brothers, who owns Veronica Mars, has gone completely insane, or if this is the beginning of the end for the studio system. If Veronica Mars can get crowd funded to the tune of 2 million dollars, in the span of less than 24 hours, do we even need studios anymore?

The answer, ultimately, is yes, we still need studios and no, they probably won't be going anywhere anytime soon. For all of their complaining about how poorly the box office seems to perpetually be doing (even though, in recent years, profits have shown a sharp rise), these folks are ridiculously shrewd, and have so many back door deals going on, they have an almost endless supply of cash coming in. Even in hard times, they will be able to pay the bills.

But what about Warner Brothers? Are they really so insane, or so strapped for cash, that they would simply let Rob Thomas, creator of Veronica Mars, crowd source a big screen version of the show? I'm not an insider (obviously), so I have no idea what WB's fortunes look like, but, ultimately, this is one of the most shrewd, and potentially profitable, decisions they could make.

Think about it - A studio allows a show runner to take the idea that the studio owns the rights to, and crowd source funds to create a movie out of it. This person is able to raise the funds for the production and (I assume post production), and the studio takes over on distribution. Warner Brothers has, essentially, just gained an extra film for their 2014 schedule, and didn't have to put out a single up front penny. They don't have to squeeze out a single, up front dime until the movie is finished. And then, all they have to do is distribute it, which is easy, because they already have all of their necessary channels and deals set up. Getting the word out is a cinch - They simply continue to take advantage of the army of folks that helped them raise that staggering sum of 2 million dollars.

Put simply, Warner Brothers wins. They put out nothing up front, they give away some BS prizes for the different Kickstarter levels, they get content (of which, THEY still own the rights to), and they collect the profits.

Don't get me wrong, Veronica Mars fans win, too, but only because WB wins. Don't think, not even for a second, that WB would allow this to happen if they didn't see dollar signs. There is a reason Veronica Mars was cancelled, and there is a reason it has never been made into a movie before now. Warner Brothers sees a sure thing, and Veronica Mars fans are willing to do whatever it takes to get their little piece. The awful truth? 2 million is a drop in the bucket for someone like Warner Brothers. They could EASILY have floated that at any time, if they truly believed in this project, but they don't.