Crowd-Funders Laud ‘Dear White People’ Gross But Guess What? Tchotchkes Make Distribs Groan

Crowd funder Indiegogo is claiming that a film it helped birth, the Sundance award winner Dear White People, is now the top crowd funded grosser with $4.4 million, besting the $3.6 million gross by Zach Braff’s Wish I Was Here. At the same time, I am hearing more and more from the distributors that buy these films that they hate crowd funded fare, because when they buy a film, they inherit the fulfillment responsibilities of promises made by filmmakers to benefactors. Fail to make those people happy and they are a noisy bunch; you risk the wrath of the internet from all those unhappy people who spent money to help make films possible, but who have no chance of sharing financially in the upside the way that any real investor who backed a no-budget hit like Dear White People does. I don’t blame them, and have always found it odd that people would put up funding for tchotchkes, knowing if they coin a hit, everybody but them stands to make real money. I wonder if this will become more of an issue as increasing numbers of films find production and finishing funds this way. Indiegogo is understandably beating its breast, announcing that it raised $153k for the Roger Ebert docu Life Itself, $340k for Don Cheadle’s Miles Davis biopic Miles Ahead, $2.4 million for Rooster Teeth’s Lazer Team, $65k for A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, and $137k for Last Days Of Vietnam, which was a Best Documentary Oscar nominee.

“Indiegogo has experienced 115% growth in the film category over the last couple of years,” said Slava Rubin, CEO of Indiegogo. “Since our launch at Sundance in 2008, 41,106 films in 166 countries have received funds from Indiegogo.”


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