Monday, November 23, 2015

Overlooked Crowd Funding: Bring Back MST3K

The campaign to bring back Mystery Science Theater 3000 is probably the most expensive one I've seen yet, but in the first week that it's been active, it has already reached beyond its minimum goal! There was no doubt in my mind that this campaign would reach the 2 million it needed to get the ball rolling on production, exceed it even. In this case, exceeding the minimum is really how the fans will get the most out of this project. I wasn't clear on this at first, but 2 million will cover three full length episodes, but if we want to see a full 12 episode season, the campaign will need to raise more than double the minimum. Which sounds like lot! 
Luckily, the man behind the dream, Joel Hodgson, could not be more transparent with how the money is to be spent. On the campaign page he breaks everything down into reasonable terms, and tells you exactly how much of the take is to be delegated to each episode. He also posted a quick break down while doing an AMA around the time the campaign launched.
When all the one time fees are paid off, each episode would get 12% of the total, which comes to about 250K. That's a bit more than episodes cost to make in the 90's, but a reasonable bit. After all, everything costs more than it did in the 90's. And keep in mind that each episode gets cheaper to make, since many of the costs will already have been covered. 

I mentioned earlier that Joel fielded questions during an AMA interview about a week ago, and you can find the whole thing here. I read through and picked a couple of the highlights:

Q: I'm curious... are you planning on featuring modern movies on the new version of the show, or are you going to focus on 50s-90s films, like how it was originally? Kind of hoping for the latter.

A: I think we're gonna go after everything. But I have to tell you, I think movies from the 70's and 80's are part of what makes MST3K, MST3K. Those movies will be what feels familiar to people. There's just so many of them! We'll slowly work our way upstream. There are definitely some movies from after 1999 that are ripe for riffing.Thanks for your support and suggestions. There's a lot of moving pieces to this puzzle, but I'm excited to see how it turns out too!

Q: If you were trapped on a desert island (or space station of love) alone and could only take one movie, what movie would it actually be?

A: If I could only take one movie, I guess it would be the Beatles' "Hard Day's Night." I'm just astonished at how talented the Beatles were, not only musically but comedically. For being in their early twenties, those guys were incredible. I mean, who does that?

Q: You guys riffed a lot of shorts in addition to the movies. Are you guys going to focus more on films, or keep the mix that you had? Also, any plans to riff The Room? "I did not hit her! I did not- oh, hi Mark!"

A: We'd love to do more shorts. They're such a key part of MST3K. I'm not sure whether they'll be part of this new season, but I'd love to include more of them in the future.
We love The Room, but I think MST3K does best when we steer away from movies that are famous for being bad. That's why we never did "Plan 9 From Outer Space" during our original run.
To me, watching Mystery Science Theater is kind of like going to a haunted house on the edge of town with your funny friends. It works best if you don't know what's in there.

Q: Where will these episodes be placed? Is there going to be a dedicated MST3K site to watch them, are you going to bring this to a network to air, or maybe an online platform like Netflix?

A: That's a really important question. The answer is that we don't know for sure yet. Part of the plan is to see how many people get excited about the Kickstarter campaign and want MST3K back, so that we can talk with broadcast networks and digital platforms about bringing MST3K back for another thirty years. There, I said it. Another 30 years.
I don't know who it will be, but we've already gotten some excited phone calls today from people in Hollywood who are watching what's happening. So it's working! Keep Circulating the URL, and maybe the next season of MST3K will be beamed straight into your eyes!
One other thing. It's really important to me that backers who help us make a new season get to ENJOY that season without spending more money, so all of the rewards above $100 include HD downloads of all of the new episodes with no DRM or copy protection. I just think that's important. It's the right thing to do. It's proper.

Q: I'm curious about how much of the reboot is in terms of the background story/host segment portions. I mean, will the old show and characters be referenced or alluded to? Or is this a hard reboot where everything that happened prior doesn't exist?

A: Everything that happened in the old MST3K definitely happened. The show will continue in that same timeline. This isn't St. Elsewhere, and it's not the new Temperatures Rising starring Paul Lynde. For example, the new Mad will be the offspring of Dr. Clayton Forrester, and the grandchild of Pearl Forrester, and therefore heir to the MST3K Experiment. Hope that puts you at ease.

One of the concerns that came up during the interview has actually been addressed already, and that was the mystery surrounding the host and mads. As the minimum goal got closer and closer, it was announced that Jonah Ray will be the new host of MST3K. 

The two met three years ago, while recording an episode of the Nerdist podcast, and then talked comedy outside of the studio, hitting it off immediately. And Jonah is also a fan of MST3K, so rest assured that he will be in favor of preserving its traditions and integrity. But even if you aren't crazy about this choice, keep in mind that he is not meant to be the host for as long as the show will run; hosts were always intended to be recast every so often, but the show was cancelled before that became obvious. 

Now, let's take a gander at the potential rewards that this campaign has to offer. All donations grant you access to exclusive updates and also come with a token of appreciation in the form of a 2" membership card. So, even if you can only give 10 bucks, you won't be left empty handed.

  • $25 is all it will take to get access to the live streaming of the first episode, complete with movie sign sounds. Great for those who have waited long enough!
  • $35 - just another $10 and you can just download the whole episode and watch it whenever you want, which is a better choice for those who battle with their internet connections. 
Under $100: 
  • $75 - this is probably more than you'd pay for a regular coffee mug, but this is an MST3K coffee mug, and it will be exclusive to the Kickstarter campaign. It also comes with collectible and easily frame-able postcards featuring movie poster art work. 
  • $100 - at this level, you will be able to download all of the new episodes of MST3K, be it three, five, or twelve. They'll all be yours. 
Breaking the Piggy Bank:
  • $200 - Most collectors I know prefer to have a physical copy, rather than a digital download of the things they like, and MST3K has those people in mind with this perk. At this level, you can get the official box set, which you will only be able to get through this campaign. It will include exclusive backer content and will be available on bluray or DVD. It sounds like a lot, but you will also get all the previous perks which definitely makes it worth the money. 
  • $250 - VHS is back! And even though most people have long since gotten rid of their VCRs, tapes are still fun to display. That's partially why this is such a cool perk, you get a collectible VHS of the pilot episode but it also comes with an MST3K patch! This also comes with many of the previous perks to sweeten the deal. 

There are several options for attending premieres in different cities, but I won't get into those. And keep in mind that every perk comes with a bundle of the previous perks, which is why it seems a bit pricey. And Kickstarter does not actually charge you until the end of the campaign, so if you need a little more time to save some money, you have just under three weeks. 
And as with all campaigns, this one has a perk that deserves some special attention...
Honorable Mention goes to the $10,000 perk, which was limited to two, but still has one available. It comes with both Crow T. Robot and Tom Servo robots in the flesh! And again, that comes with a lot more that just those two.

Currently, there are 18 days left in this campaign, and a lot of other perks that I didn't list. You can check out the campaign and read the updates in more detail by clicking here. And you can find the campaign video below. 


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