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.
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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.
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We’ll see whether the entertainment industry can gin up some big news at this week’s 2012 International CES for its UltraViolet streaming initiative — such as an alliance with a major retailer. But for now, this is what we’ve got: Panasonic will load its Viera Connect TV sets and Blu-ray players with connections to Warner Bros’ Flixster. The entertainment company wants its Web destination to become the chief gateway for consumers to stream movies after they buy discs that include UltraViolet access rights. Warner says that there’ve been 50M downloads of the Flixster app for Android, Blackberry and iPad devices. Read More »
Everyone thinks of TV Everywhere as a mobile service, enabling pay TV subscribers to stream shows to Internet devices. But Time Warner CFO John Martin told the Citigroup Global Entertainment, Media and Telecommunications Conference that the initiative may have its biggest impact in the living room. TV Everywhere will create “an enormous amount of on-demand programming, and that could radically change the way people with Web-connected TV sets access their favorite shows. Time Warner has been promoting just such a shift based on the theory that it will help TV’s most popular channels and programs. It has signed TV Everywhere deals for its Turner channels — including TBS, TNT, and CNN — and for its HBO GO application. “HBO GO is now available to virtually everyone and Turner isn’t far behind,” Martin says. He adds that “a lot of progress is going to be made over the next 12 months” as viewers figure out what they can do with TV Everywhere. “This is all happening quickly. … We’re on the cusp of seeing the television viewing experience get dramatically better.”
There are still bumps along the way. Time Warner saw a slowdown in scatter market ad sales in 4Q; expectations of mid-single-digit growth ”may be aspirational.” But Martin is “cautiously optimistic” about the current quarter based on low cancellations, and ads for NBA games selling at “very attractive rates.” Home video sales also were weak at year end with 4Q results that “look more challenged” than 3Q. Time Warner expects help from the UltraViolet initiative, which makes it possible for DVD buyers to also access movies remotely. The company bought a website, Flixster, to serve as a gateway for consumers. ”The product is not where we want it to be, but someone has to take a leadership position,” Martin says. Read More »
HBO plays a bigger role than you might imagine in Apple’s negotiations with Hollywood to offer recent movies via the iTunes Store and its new iCloud service to devices such as the iPhone and iPad. HBO’s deals with studios including Warner, Fox, and Universal give it the exclusive right to digitally distribute their films during the premium TV window. (Others such as Starz have similar rights.) That’s been an issue for the new UltraViolet cloud initiative backed by most major studios and consumer electronics companies. Except Disney and Apple: UltraViolet is designed to reinvigorate home video sales by giving people who buy certain DVDs and Blu-ray discs the right to access their movies from the Internet cloud.
Warner Bros had to restructure its deal with corporate cousin HBO to clear the way for this week’s first UltraViolet release, Horrible Bosses. But Apple’s now talking to studios to secure the right to offer movies at the iTunes Store that can be accessed via the iCloud service — which was launched on Wednesday. That poses two challenges to Time Warner: The company has lot invested in UltraViolet as it reintroduces its web site Flixster as a user-friendly gateway for films stored in those digital lockers. And HBO is making a big push to promote its HBO Go digital streaming service. So keep an eye on Time Warner and HBO: The fate of their initiatives, as well as iCloud, will be shaped by the positions they take … Read More »
Time Warner provided a little more insight today into how it will use Flixster to fend off competition from Netflix. The movie-listing and info service that Time Warner bought earlier this month will provide a user-friendly interface for people who want to manage their home video collections in the digital cloud, the company’s CFO John Martin told an investor conference sponsored by Barclays Capital. Consumers will be able to “upload your existing physical DVDs, have the ability access them across multiple devices anywhere you want, have the ability to manage your collections with social aspects as well, go in, have friends see what movie collections they have, (and) see who has been watching those films,” he says. Martin called it “a very big idea” that Time Warner will describe more fully soon. The initiative comes as Martin says Warner Bros expects 2011 to be an “all-time record year.” But the big driver will be television, which accounts for “roughly half of the profits.” Although Warner Bros earns “in excess of our cost of capital in the film business,” television is “off the chart in terms of returns.” Broadcasters picked up 27 series from Warner Bros for this fall — including 12 new ones. The total is one more than last year and enables Warner Bros to boast that it’s still the No. 1 supplier of TV shows. Read More »