Because Rupert Murdoch wants to buy Time Warner, and journalists have reported Murdoch would sell off Time Warner‘s cable news network CNN, Jon Stewart last night launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $10 billion in order to buy the network “and do…something with it. Not quite sure what yet.” ”CNN, America’s first 24-hour cable news network, has been terrible for many, many years. Does it have to be that way? Who knows, maybe it does,” The Daily Show host’s campaign explains. “So let’s find out for ourselves! This $10 billion, all-cash bid for CNN would secure control of a massive television network reaching over 100 million homes in the US alone, which we could then use to rebuild a news organization befitting this proud land. Or more likely we’d use it to make a lot more poop jokes. Either way, you get to watch!”
A mere $10 contribution gets your photo in an on-screen “21 box” of talking heads. For $15,000 it’ll be just you and Carol Costello in a “2 box”, with 5 minutes of freestyling. And for $5 million, CNN will initiate a 24-hour, 2-week hunt for your lost car keys. Watch here:
UPDATED, 2 PM: Instead of slowing down after hitting its stated $1 million goal in less than one day, LeVar Burton‘s Kickstarter campaign to bring back Reading Rainbow as a web series seems to be picking up steam — hitting $2M early this afternoon.
Watch Burton’s reaction when the campaign hit $1M:
PREVIOUSLY, 2:38 PM Wednesday: Hours after its launch this morning, a Kickstarter campaign launched by LeVar Burton to bring back Reading Rainbow as a web series hit its goal of raising $1 million dollars. The campaign had set a deadline of Wednesday, July 2 to raise the cash, using incentives that range from offers of Reading Rainbow mugs and calendars, to passes to the Star Trek Convention in Las Vegas in July, to (for $10K) a private dinner with Burton at which you could wear the “one-and-only original visor” he wore when he played Geordi La Forge on Star Trek: The Next Generation.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that we would reach our goal on the very first day,” Burton told Deadline. “People are getting involved — it’s been pretty overwhelming. ”
On the Kickstarter page, Burton wrote the $1 million will get the web series launched and into 1,500 classrooms, “but once we get there, we’ve got some big ideas for stretch goals!” Reading Rainbow aired more than two decades on PBS.
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NBC’s Today today unveiled the new full trailer for Wish I Was Here, the film by Garden State helmer and Scrubs star Zach Braff that became the poster child movie for crowdfunding after it raised a big chunk of the budget through Kickstarter. Focus Features, which acquired it for $2.75 million out of Sundance, releases it July 18. Braff stars as a thirtysomething guy with a life crisis. Here’s the trailer:
Spike comedy series Blue Mountain State was cancelled in 2012 after three seasons, but a second life on Netflix and Hulu reinvigorated fan interest. Now the show’s creators are hoping to channel that demand into a big-screen film continuation with a Kickstarter campaign launched today. “We’ve seen fan activity on social media since the show ended and went on to Netflix, and we’ve seen the audience continue to grow through that platform,” said Alan Ritchson (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire), who played high-strung All-American linebacker Thad Castle on the show and is aboard to produce the film project with co-creators Chris Romano and Eric Falconer. “When they find it on Netflix, they also find out it’s no longer airing on Spike or being made. A lot of them are asking for another season. We didn’t get our senior year and we want to do that.”
Ritchson, Romano and Falconer seek to raise a minimum of $1.5M to produce a Blue Mountain State movie based on the series, an idea that’s been brewing since Spike cancelled the show. Producer Lionsgate TV passed on doing a feature film but sold the rights back to Ritchson and company and retain a first-look option on the potential movie.
Taking a beloved TV series to the big screen through crowdfunding worked well for recent Kickstarter successes Veronica Mars, which raised $5.7M and opened day-and-date via Warner Bros last month, and Zach Braff’s Wish I Was Here, which raised $3.1M and opens July 18 through Focus Features. Both high-profile films, however, also encountered their own high-profile snafus. Read More »
The Past Is A Grotesque Animal centers on the Athens, GA-based indie pop band of Montreal and is in postproduction after a Kickstarter campaign that raised almost $95,000. Oscilloscope has acquired worldwide rights to the Jason Miller-helmed pic, and plans to release it this year. The movie focuses on frontman Kevin Barnes, whose pursuit to make transcendent music at all costs drives him to value art over human relationships. As he struggles with all of those around him — family and bandmates alike — he’s forced to reconsider the future of the band, begging the question is this really worth it? “As fans of of Montreal, we have been excited by this project since we first became aware of it via Kickstarter,” Oscilloscope’s Dan Berger and David Laub said today in announcing the pickup. “We were exceptionally pleased when The Past Is A Grotesque Animal turned out to be an incredibly well-made, relatable film and are extremely excited to come on board at this early stage to unleash it upon the masses.” Read More »
It’s too early to tell if movie crowdfunding just got a platinum card membership level or if serious investors now have a new way to potentially reap the rewards of a hit pic but Junction Investments is looking to evolve at least one of those business models. With Midas touch producer Jason Blum and casino king Steve Wynn on board as advisors and the Tom Hanks-starrer A Hologram For The King as its first offering, the San Francisco-based members only investment start-up launched today. The basic idea is that big-ticket investors will get “the chance to invest in fully-financed movies, film projects that will get made regardless of whether Junction participates,” according to Junction. In the case of Hologram, financier Silver Reel Entertainment are offering a piece of their deal in the big screen adaptation of the Dave Eggers novel via Junction’s online platform to outsider investors.
Unlike Kickstarter or Indiegogo, the upmarket oriented Junction isn’t about getting the pics off the ground at all. Instead it aims to allow original investors to offer Junction investors a portion of what they put into a particular film. The real selling point here is the access and that the new Hollywood newbie investors get the same terms as the original investors. Which means, unlike more wide spread reward or credit granting crowdfunded movies like the Zach Braff-directed Wish I Was Here or the recently released Veronica Mars, backers who get onboard a film via … Read More »
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.
Related: ‘Veronica Mars’ Movie Opening Scene Hits Web: Video
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.
elated: ‘Veronica Mars’ TV Series To Stream On Amazon Prime
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EXCLUSIVE: The rush to build new filmmaking ecosystems based on crowdsourcing is still in full effect, as industry-watchers have seen with the high-profile success of crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter, its peer site Indiegogo, and online financing communities like Slated. Debuting in time for SXSW is another new digital film hub using crowdsourcing as its hook. Tentsquare, created by Modernciné and Modern Distributors CEO and filmmaker Andrew van den Houten, is a new web platform that integrates a social networking element in the making of short and feature-length film projects in what van den Houten describes as a digital production studio. He’s recruited fellow indie filmmakers including the McManus Brothers (2012 SXSW Official Selection Film, Funeral Kings) and Jeffrey Reddick (the Final Destination franchise) to the budding platform, in which members can track and interact with each other via the Tentsquare network and, in theory, contribute input into story, character development, and casting of Tentsquare projects. Users also can submit themselves as directors, screenwriters, actors, and cinematographers, with fellow members and a panel of expert judges voting on who gets selected to work on the company’s films. “The goal is to democratize the filmmaking process,” said van den Houten. “No creative executive at any studio has ever been willing to give control over to the audience.” The platform officially launches this week at SXSW, where Tentsquare will have a … Read More »
Focus Features will release Wish I Was Here on July 18, 2014 in a platform release in NY and LA before the pic expands the following week and again on August 1. The news was announced via the film’s page on Kickstarter, the crowdfunding site that gave life to the Zach Braff comedy that marks the writer-director second feature following the well-received 2004 indie Garden State. Overall the film raised $3.1 million after eclipsing its $2 million goal in three days, and Focus acquired rights for $2.75 million at Sundance after its world premiere there. Kickstarter backers who pledged for advance screenings rewards will be invited to attend early previews in their local markets. Wish I Was Here enters on a thirtysomething man who finds himself at major crossroads that forces him to examine his life, his career, and his family. Braff, Kate Hudson and Mandy Patinkin star.
UPDATED, 3:05 PM: Forbes wasn’t alone in the sights of hackers this past week. Crowdfunding platform Kickstarter today confirmed that a hacking attack occurred on their system on Wednesday exposing the data of Kickstarter users, although “No credit card data of any kind was accessed by hackers,” said Kickstarter. The security breach affected user email addresses.
PREVIOUSLY: Forbes‘ online site was hit in a “digital attack” yesterday that compromised the publication’s publishing platform and may have exposed sensitive user information including email addresses and passwords. “The passwords were encrypted, but as a precaution, we strongly encourage Forbes readers and contributors to change their passwords on our system, and encourage them to change them on other websites if they use the same password elsewhere. We have notified law enforcement. We take this matter very seriously and apologize to the members of our community for this breach,” Forbes acknowledged Friday.
Related: Financial Times, NYT Hit By Hackers
EXCLUSIVE: Matthew Modine is the latest celeb filmmaker to seek funding via crowdsourcing with his just-launched campaign for The Rocking Horsemen, a 1960s-set music pic about five high schoolers who hear the emerging sound of rock ‘n’ roll and decide to form a band. But he’s not following the likes of Zach Braff and Spike Lee down the Kickstarter yellow brick road. Modine, who wrote and will direct the film, is using Slated, an online platform/marketplace launched last year, to raise just his under-$5M budget. (Check out his Slated project here.) Unlike backers on Kickstarter or Indiegogo who typically receive small rewards of sentimental value in return for donations, Modine’s Slated investors will get the opportunity to participate in a meaningful financial way as equity investors, owning an actual piece of the project they’re investing in.
Related: Zach Braff On ‘Wish I Was Here’ Kickstarter Campaign & Backlash
In the brave new world of film financing wrought by big-name campaigners like Braff, Lee, and the Veronica Mars gang, donation-based Kickstarter and similar crowdfunding ventures aren’t win-win for everyone. Fans throwing cash down in exchange for “perks” don’t benefit monetarily from becoming Kickstarter donors. Even Indiegogo, which unlike Kickstarter allows filmmakers to take home funds even if they don’t reach their posted fundraising goals, isn’t the most viable option for mid- or higher-budgeted projects, particularly those lacking in name stars or sizable fan support. Equity film crowdfunding, on the other hand, was made viable by the 2012 JOBS Act which allows for the solicitation of accredited investors by entrepreneurs and start-ups. Since the SEC is still finalizing regulations on exactly how that’s to be implemented, platforms like Slated — and others in the works — can’t yet broker monetary transactions themselves. But they can match-make filmmakers with financiers, who can then privately seal the deal.
Related: Sundance: ‘Dogfight’ Producer Richard Guay Floats New Crowd-Funding Model
Slated, then, is less a Kickstarter peer and more akin to an OKCupid for film financing: a gated online marketplace intended to connect like-minded filmmakers, investors, sales reps, and other industry figures with the ultimate goal of financing indie projects of a certain size. Read More »
Just days after the domestic rights to the Zach Braff-directed and Kickstarter-funded Wish I Was Here sold for $2.75 million to Focus Features at the Sundance Film Festival, there’s a new crowd-funding plan making the rounds here in Park City. While his Passion First Funding isn’t up and running yet, Dogfight producer Richard Guay, who has been part of the New York indie scene for years, thinks he’s found a way that people can actually see some financial return for contributing to future projects like Braff’s movie. “It’s going to bring traditional financing and the power of the crowd together,” he told me today. The idea comes out of aspects of the 2012 Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act that permit general solicitation of accredited investors. The act was intended for startups in general, of which film is but a niche, but in this case people putting money in to a project seeking crowd-funding won’t just be getting a signed poster or set visit but they could actually make their money back as well as profits. Read More »
UPDATED 9:49 PM: Focus has sent out a release about its acquisition of Zach Braff’s pic. Read it below.
PREVIOUS: Focus Features is getting on the board here at Sundance, just closing a distribution rights deal to Wish I Was Here, the film which Zach Braff wrote and directed, and stars as a father struggling to home school his kids. Braff stars with Mandy Patinkin, Josh Gad, Kate Hudson, Jim Parsons, Ashley Greene, Pierce Gagnon and Joey King. The deal is $2.75 million for a theatrical release over 500 screens, and generous P&A to support it. There is also a strong back end.
Related: Zach Braff On ‘Wish I Was Here’ Kickstarter Campaign, His Critics & Industry Change
Interest in this one kick-started right after the film debuted Saturday night at the MARC. It came in as one of the high profile pics at Sundance, by merit of the Kickstarter crowd funding campaign undertaken by Braff and his producers, Stacey Sher, Michael Shamberg and Adam J. Braff. The film was repped by CAA with Wild Bunch. Kickstarter and Worldview financed the film.
It’s the first major acquisition since Peter Schlessel took over the shingle.
Related: Zach Braff’s ‘Wish I Was Here’ Kickstarter Hits $2 Million Goal In 3 Days
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Zach Braff understands critics of his multimillion-dollar Kickstarter campaign for Wish I Was Here, which premieres today at the Sundance Film Festival, but says they’re missing the big picture. “I have money, I’ve made money in my life and I put a great deal of money into this film as it were, but I certainly couldn’t write a check for $5 million to make the film and that’s why I looked to Kickstarter as a way of doing it,” the director and former Scrubs star says. “I understand why people got all upset about it but, when you look at all the data, we drove an insane amount of traffic to the site,” he adds. Weathering a hailstorm of “Why does a rich guy with a sitcom in syndication and lots of famous friends need to hit up the Internet for cash?” critiques, Braff took to the crowdfunding site last spring to raise $2 million for his second directorial feature; in 30 days his comedy-drama about a struggling thirtysomething actor looking for meaning in his life after the death of his father raised $3.1 million towards the $5 million-budgeted pic.
Related: ‘Wish I Was Here’ Kickstarter Hits $2M Goal In 3 Days
That had a digital spillover effect for less high-profile projects, Braff says. “The analytics show what drove [backers] there, be it my Facebook, my Twitter or an article on Deadline, but then you see what they did. They didn’t just go on my site. They spent a fair amount of time pursuing the site for other movies they might want to fund.” Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Authentic Entertainment, the reality-TV production company behind Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, Toddlers & Tiaras, Flipping Out, etc, has turned to Kickstarter to try to raise the $350K it says it needs to pilot its first scripted program, Project Moonbase. Beth Riesgraf, Erika Christensen, Greg Behrendt, Erin Daniels, and Jenni Pulos star. Ironically, the show, set in the year 2043, is about a space administration that turns to Hollywood to finance its space base — allowing a cast of reality TV rejects to join its astronauts in exchange for the money it needs to keep the base operational. At time of publishing, the crowdfunding campaign has raised raised a little more than $10K with 27 days remaining.
While some diehard fans follow the career moves of Twilight Saga cast members with fervor, I find myself more interested with the post-franchise careers of the cast of my favorite movie trilogy, The Lord Of The Rings. Especially the Hobbits. I’ve written often about how Elijah Wood, beyond starring in the FX series Wilfred, has gotten into producing and has turned his Frodo image on its ear with roles like the slasher he plays in Maniac. Dominic Monaghan found his calling on the TV show Wild Things, crawling into godawful places to grab onto dangerous-looking oversized insects and animals. Now, Sean Astin, of Samwise Gamgee fame, has taken to Kickstarter for his passion project. That is hosting Vox Populi, a political interview show on the web. Astin, who still makes his living acting and is currently part of the cast of Guillermo del Toro’s FX pilot The Strain, is looking for $30,000 from Kickstarter to take his web show to the next level. That means hiring a couple of people so he doesn’t have to do everything himself. Read More »
Ain’t It Cool News blogger Harry Knowles already has a polarizing rep for getting chummy with the makers of the movies he covers. Now Peter Jackson is the latest high profile filmmaker to throw his support behind a crowdfunding campaign to raise $100K for Knowles’ fanboy talk show. In a video posted today, the Hobbit helmer urges backers to contribute to Knowles’ Kickstarter which is just about $18K shy with a day left to reach its goal. I hear Jackson has not made an official monetary donation to the campaign but other directors including Rian Johnson, Eli Roth, and Guillermo del Toro have backed the project, with del Toro notably donating $5K to the cause. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: All summer we’ve debated the merits of Kickstarter as Zach Braff, Spike Lee and the makers of Veronica Mars successfully used the mechanism as a way to fill in funding gaps for movies they wanted to make. Well, here’s a new wrinkle: John Herzfeld, who wrote and directed 2 Days In The Valley, 15 Minutes and The Death And Life Of Bobby Z, was already shooting the ensemble film Reach Me when one of his backers fell out to the tune of $250,000. Rather than squash the movie, he, his star Sylvester Stallone and producer Cassian Elwes have made a pitch for the funds through Kickstarter.
With a cast that includes Stallone, Lauren Cohan, Kelsey Grammer, Kyra Sedgwick, Nelly, Entourage‘s Kevin Connolly, True Blood‘s Ryan Kwanten, Thomas Jane, Tom Sizemore, Elizabeth Henstridge, Terry Crews and Danny Trejo, you wouldn’t imagine they would have any trouble finding the coin for a film about a group of very different people connected by a self-help book written by a reclusive football coach. Herzfeld says he put everything he had into the film and that he and his producers Elwes and Rebekah Chaney went through hell to get this far. Stallone himself does most of the talking in the Kickstarter pitch along with Herzfeld. Read More »
Spike Lee has exceeded his $1.25 million Kickstarter goal to crowdfund his next joint, about humans who are addicted to blood (“Funny, Sexy and Bloody. A new kind of love story – and not a remake of Blacula,” he wrote when the campaign launched). Lee’s Kickstarter has hit $1.29M with four days to go, marking the third-biggest film project to date on the fundraising website behind the Veronica Mars movie’s $5.7M and Zach Braff’s $3.1M. Lee’s success marks a subtle shift in the burgeoning era of celebrity Kickstarters, which routinely have earned scrutiny from critics who accuse them of stealing limelight from smaller campaigns — a backlash Wish I Was Here producer Stacey Sher called “excruciating.” But while Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas and Braff mostly appealed online to established fanbases to raise their budget dollars, Lee waged an unabashed PR campaign in traditional and broadcast media, including an appearance on CNN, to promote his fundraiser. “I’m bringing to Kickstarter who’ve never even heard of Kickstarter,” he said in an interview last month.
Related: Spike Lee Offers Courtside Knicks Tix To Crowdfund New Film