Will Kickstarter replace Hollywood? That seems to be the question on everyone’s mind in the wake of a Veronica Mars Kickstarter campaign that met its goal in just over four hours. PBS’ Idea Channel has put a lot of thought into the question – and while it doesn't have a definitive answer, it does highlight all the possibilities (both good and bad) moving forward. If you’re interested in fan-funding and the business of movies, this is some pretty interesting stuff.
Gamers have been asking themselves the same questions for over a year, as Kickstarter – once the source for average Joes to find funding to make their dream projects – has slowly caught the eye of major developers and studios. What was once a sort of DIY grassroots thing “for the people” has slowly seen an influx of projects offered up by “professional creative types” who could have probably found funds through more traditional means. This annoys some people – and rightly so. There’s only so much money our modern age “patrons of the arts” on Kickstarter can donate – and every dollar that’s given to a project that could have theoretically found funding through normal channels means there’s a dollar that’s not going to a project that has no other chance at ever existing.
The Kickstarter phenomenon is potentially a double-edged sword in that it allows people to support a project like Veronica Mars at a grassroots level, but it also allows Hollywood to potentially make films with a guaranteed audience without having to pay those investors in anything more than trinkets. Think of it like the Europeans buying Manhattan for a handful baubles worth about $24 and you’re on the right track. That’s troubling, considering the Hollywood film industry makes over $10 billion a year, on average. Do the rich need to get richer?
Of course, these are the potentially bad things. If everything worked like it does in some fictional utopia, both Hollywood and Kickstarter backers would win. Hollywood could use Kickstarter to gauge potential interest in new projects (something its insular community of studio people aren’t always so good at…), and fans could be sure that their favorite projects had a legitimate shot at actually being made. As the video says, this symbiotic relationship could lead to something like HollyStarter – and could be pretty cool.
We don’t really know how this will all play out – but we suspect more studios will be interested in testing the Kickstarter waters in the wake of the Veronica Mars event, in much the same way game studios hopped on the bandwagon after Tim Schafer’s Double Fine Adventure raked in millions. Kickstarter will likely never fund a full-fledged big-budget blockbuster game adaptation like Call of Duty or a film like The Avengers, but it can certainly provide the seed money to get those projects rolling and secure the real funding from the big investors. The question is, will people be happy with a product they wanted and few donation baubles while the bigger investors rake in cold hard cash?
Check out the video and let us know what you think. Have you given to Kickstarter projects before? Were you happy with what you got for your investment? Do you find the idea of studios with real streams of funding relying on the masses distasteful or are you cool with it?