The Wall Street Journal this morning ran a piece detailing the plans for the release of the much anticipated Veronica Mars Movie (coming out worldwide March 14th) which raised some of it’s budget from a Kickstarter campaign.
The majority of the money really came from Warner Brothers Studios but the kickstarter showed the passion of the fans for a return of this character and her adventures and that caught someone at Warners eyes and it appears their imagination to what they could do with that property.
First off the film will not do any traditional advertising. Any advertising for the film will be done online or in the theaters where it will be shown but the real interesting part is how the film will be distributed.
Here’s how the distribution will work: In the US Warners will rent about 270 theaters from the AMC chain to show the film in rather than the theaters paying for the right to show the film in their theater and on March 14th when the film arrives in theaters it will also be available to buy or rent online… around the world. (in the UK it looks like 12 theaters will run the film but I’ve got no details on the deal with them)
This is huge and the first time I’ve seen this distribution method used in a long time. In the past people like Roger Corman and Tom Laughlin would rent theaters across the country to show their films and collect the money but that’s been a long time. AMC will sell the tickets but in this case, Warners keeps all the box office sales.
Because they are renting the theaters they are also not bound by the agreements concerning video releases which hold them off for a minimum of 90 days. This is what’s allowing Warners to go theatrical and rent and sell on the same day.
Although neither party is giving out numbers WSJ says that it costs an average of between $5000 to $20,000 a week to rent a screen.
I found a list of the UK/Ireland Theaters (I’ll put the list at the bottom of this post) but Rob Thomas has stated in this updates to the Kickstarter campaign that the film will be available to EVERYONE around the world on March 14th.
“If your rewards include a digital version of the movie, you’ll get it on March 14.”
“If your rewards didn’t include a copy of the movie, or you’ve got friends who didn’t back the project, the movie will also be available to EVERYONE on March 14 through participating digital platforms, cable providers and satellite services.”
This is a smart move. 270 theaters and 12-13 in the UK will do very well and yes, the majority of people going to the theater WILL buy or rent the film online as well.
What does this mean for the studio? Could be a massive payday. The Kickstarter campaign raised about $5 million (the official number is 5.7 but Kickstarter takes a piece of the action and I’ve heard from numerous sources that despite the best efforts of Amazon, who process the payments, a high number on many campaigns cannot be collected) from which all the rewards for the fans will be paid out and after that Warners paid the rest. The WSJ says “Some funds from the Kickstarter fundraising are being used for T-shirts, posters and other rewards promised to fans who donated money. The studio funded the rest of the movie, which ended up costing a little over $6 million in total.” Which I find confusing not sure if it means the studio paid in an additional $6 million or the total budget was $6 million.
Either way this is a very inexpensive film considering the studios desire these days to spend no less than $100 million on films that realistically could have been made for half that.
Will Warners make their money back? Immediately and then it will be a cash cow for them for years to come. I have no doubt about that.
What is really important about this whole thing is what this MIGHT inspire. My hope is that the studio will see that creating quality films at a modest budget is a great way to do business rather then dumping $200 million into a pieces of crap like World War Z but they won’t stop doing that but they might just start creating films like Veronica Mars along side these bloated, unoriginal tentpole films.
So the wait is about over, Marshmallows, Veronica Mars comes out March 14th and no matter where you are you can get to see it the first day.
The list of cinemas where Veronica Mars will be screened in the UK and Ireland:
Leicester Square (London)