Angry comments have erupted on the Veronica Mars Kickstarter site from donors upset that they are unable to download the movie via the service provided: Flixster/Ultraviolet. The film, which was funded on Kickstarter, promised that donors who pledged $35 or higher would “receive a digital version of the movie within a few days of the movie’s theatrical debut, plus the T-shirt, plus the pdf of the shooting script.” After Warner Bros declined to finance the idea based on its 2004-07 TV series, Veronica Mar’s creator/exec producer Rob Thomas and star Kristen Bell went to the crowdfunding site with an intention of raising $2M to bring the popular TV series to the big screen, but it quickly ended up raising a whopping $5.7M.
The comments range from, “This is a bunch of crap. Where is the MP4 download that just works, for everyone, with no problems?” and “This is ridiculous. I can’t even get a full download of Flixter (sic) to even attempt to watch the movie. Both I and my husband have been alternately trying to download it for over an hour. I have never been so disappointed … I’ve been looking forward to this for a year” to “I’m disappointed that the Flixster streaming/download isn’t working when we had a whole evening planned around watching the movie. I ended up paying $7.00 to rent the movie through amazon … ” Others wrote: “What a way to say ‘screw you’ to backers” and “I regret this funding.” And still another: “Giving up getting digital download to work. Happy movie got made but can’t help but feel ripped off for not getting the copy of the movie I was promised.” In response, Thomas sent out this statement to donors:
“We’ve read all of your comments since yesterday’s update. We know that some of you have strong opinions about the decision to provide digital versions of the movie through Flixster. As you’ll see in the original FAQ on our Kickstarter page, we’ve always planned to include Flixster as a digital distribution platform. But I also know that many of you use iTunes, Amazon or other platforms, and would prefer to claim your digital copies on your favorite service, so we hoped we’d also be able to arrange for more options. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t possible. In the end, Flixster was the best option for getting the digital movie reward out to all of you, worldwide, at the same time.” He suggests calling the customer support team … okay, a total debacle.
This comes after other problems with crowdfunding perks for the movie already. Thomas told the crowd at PaleyFest2014 on Thursday that they had a lot of challenges to overcome. For instance, he said that he wanted to give out 40 associate producer credits to the largest donors and fly them to L.A. to see the film and get feedback, but the PGA nixed that idea. Because of the overwhelming response, he and Bell were obligated to generate 5,000 autographed movie posters. He said it took three long days and 19 boxes of posters to sign.
The film bowed in a midnight screening last night to $260K on 95 screens, off to a good start fueled by its fan base. Veronica Mars will be on 291 screens this weekend and the big question is will it bring in an audience past its initial fan base. Warner Bros is paying for marketing and distribution costs. We’re waiting to hear from Warner Bros. and will add their comments when they get back to us.
Here’s what Thomas posted on the Kickstarter site tonight:
This is it. We’ve been waiting almost eight years for this moment.
Today, Veronica Mars returned, and it’s all because of you.
By the time you read this update, many of you will have already seen the movie.
Over the last week, I’ve had the chance to watch it with more than 1,000 of you in Austin, New York and Los Angeles. Starting this morning, it became available through digital retailers and on demand. Here in the United States, the first theatrical screenings started at 12:01 AM this morning. And, if you pledged $35 or more during the Kickstarter, you should now have received an email with instructions and a redeemable code to access the movie through Flixster. (If you haven’t, it’s because we’ve been unable to reach you through email.)
If you haven’t received an email about your digital version of the movie, please email Customer Support at firstname.lastname@example.org. (We want to make sure you get to see the movie right away, so Warner Bros has extra staff working to provide faster answers.)
On Flixster & Digital Download Options
As a quick aside: we’ve read all of your comments since yesterday’s update. We know that some of you have strong opinions about the decision to provide digital versions of the movie through Flixster.
As you’ll see in the original FAQ on our Kickstarter page, we’ve always planned to include Flixster as a digital distribution platform. But I also know that many of you use iTunes, Amazon or other platforms, and would prefer to claim your digital copies on your favorite service, so we hoped we’d also be able to arrange for more options. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t possible. In the end, Flixster was the best option for getting the digital movie reward out to all of you, worldwide, at the same time.
But more than anything, I genuinely want today to be perfect for all of you. It’s March 14. Today, your movie came out worldwide, and I want you to be able to watch it on whatever platform or device works best for your needs.
So, here’s the deal:
We understand that some of you prefer other platforms or services for watching digital content. If you contact our Customer Support team, they can help.
If you paid for a copy of the movie a year ago, we don’t want you to have less choice and freedom than people who decide to buy it today. And we definitely don’t want you to end up paying twice just to see the movie on your preferred service.
Please know that Warner Bros have given Customer Support a lot of freedom to help make things right, so if you’re having issues, please let them know: they’ll do their best to either help get Flixster working to your satisfaction, or, if you prefer, to provide an alternate solution.
Now, let’s take a few minutes to talk about the movie we just released together.
How I’m Measuring Veronica’s Success
Over the last month, we’ve done a lot of media appearances and interviews, and in almost every one of them, I’ve said the same thing: my number one goal for Veronica Mars was to make our fans happy.
In the past week, I’ve gotten to watch the movie several times, with over thousand of our backers. I’ve gotten to speak to many of you while walking our red carpets, on sidewalks before interviews, and in both the Kickstarter screenings and after parties. Since yesterday, as more of you started seeing the movie in far-flung time zones (where the future is now!), I’ve gotten hundreds more messages sharing your thoughts.
The early feedback on the movie from fans has been so positive that I’ve been walking on air all day.
Do I still hope Veronica Mars does well in movie theaters, and sells a hundred billion copies on opening weekend? Of course I do. And is there a number I’ve discussed with Warner Bros that would make it easier to start talking about a sequel? Of course there is. The more audience we can show for Veronica Mars, the better the odds that we’ll get to do this again in the future.
Most of the time, when you direct or produce a film, you spend opening weekend watching the box office returns, because those — for better or worse — are considered the biggest measure of success. (Happily, we’re off to a good start.) I’m still watching those numbers, but I have to be honest: for me, that feels a little bit like playing with the house’s money. If you’re happy, we’ve already hit our mark.
Why we needed to get this right.
This week, I’ve spoken with a lot of reporters. Without fail, almost every single one of them asks some version of this question: “Veronica Mars has been off the air for years. Why did you keep pursuing this movie for so long? Why not give up?”
(It’s actually been 2,488 days since the last episode of Veronica Mars premiered. Not that I’m counting.)
As I kept answering that question, I realized that there were three big reasons I never gave up: (1) Veronica Mars was a show that we’re all proud of. That’s rarer than you might think. (2) The people who worked on Veronica Mars really enjoy working with each other. That’s also rarer than you might think.
But above all: we never gave up because you never gave up.
Over the last seven years, whenever I speak with fans, I’m reminded — again and again — of how important Veronica is to many of you. And I’d like to think that also I understand what this movie has meant to many of you.
Like many of you, I am a huge TV fan. I geek out over my favorite shows. I have appointment television. I write fan mail to my favorite show creators. And I absolutely know what it’s like to love a show deeply, and to identify with the characters. (I said it last night at PaleyFest, but Judd Apatow probably wasn’t there, so I’ll say it again: if Freaks & Geeks ever Kickstarts a movie, I’ll be the first in line.) As someone who cares that much, I am constantly humbled to hear that so many of you feel that way about a show that is so personal to me.
The backers I’ve gotten to meet over the last week — and there are so many of you — fill me with awe. I’ll admit that I expected most of the backers at each premiere to be local, or at least within an hour’s flight of the theater. Instead, I met backers from Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, the UK, Germany, Brazil — the list goes on. And meeting you doesn’t just mean that you supported us in making the movie. It means you cared enough to pay for hotels, and airfare, to be there with us at our Kickstarter premieres. Several of you told me that these events were your vacation for the year, or even the next two years.
As you watch the movie, please know that we’ve done our very best to deserve your commitment.
The strangest part, in meeting all of you, was how many of you kept thanking me, and Kristen, and the rest of our team, for making the movie — and it was strange mostly because, as smart as you all are, it seemed obvious to me that you were getting this one wrong. The thanks should have been going in the other direction.
There’s more to say, but this isn’t a night for reading.
Tonight, and this weekend, I hope you’ll have a chance to watch the movie you made possible, and share the experience with your fellow backers and fans.
I’ll be watching to see how the movie performs over the weekend, but the most important thing to me is knowing what YOU think of it, so — SPOILER WARNING — please let me know in the comments below. As always — even if I can’t respond to all of you — I promise that I’m reading.
Thank you for everything you’ve done to get us to this moment.