Thursday, August 8, 2013

Did Rifftrax Overpromise A Bit In Kickstarter Campaign? Not Really

Like about 4300 people, I was looking forward to having my own digital copy of the Rifftrax gang taking Starship Troopers apart after they have their live show next week.

Then, I got this message:

Unfortunately, we’ve been unable to secure the rights from Sony to provide a digital version of the live show. The rights are completely different for theatrical and digital release, and even though we were able to work out an agreement with the theatrical division, it’s just not possible for a digital version.

Fortunately, they had a plan "B" in case they couldn't get the digital rights. Still, I did notice many people were disappointed they would not get the digital download they had expected. One person said he had lost his trust in Mike and Rifftrax because he didn't get the digital rights. Others said they wanted the download because they wouldn't be able to see it live. For the most part, especially the day after, people understood what happened, and gladly accepted an alternate package.

Did Rifftrax promise a little too much in its Kickstarter campaign?

They did the best they could, trying to pull off something they never tried before.
It just wanted to take what it does to alleged movies (Manos, Birdemic, Jack the Giant Killer, and Reefer Madness, to name a few) to the next level, and found out it's much tougher than expected. This was still a good first try, and we hope Rifftrax can get bigger movies in the future.

Mike Nelson was upfront about how this big move to get a more mainstream movie for a Rifftrax Live event was a gamble at best. They wanted to riff on Twilight, which inspired fans to raise the 55 thousand dollars needed in record time. They wound up pledging nearly 265 thousand dollars, which could have been enough for Mike, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett to give Bella and Edward the business.
Not quite for Lionsgate and Summit Entertainment, though, which is why Rifftrax had a list of alternate targets, uh, movies. It eventually got the rights to Starship Troopers, a sci-fi bug movie so cheesy it's practically asking for it. More than 70 percent donated 20 dollars or more to get a digital download of a fully-riffed Casper van Dien, Denise Richards, and really big bugs.
In a Kickstarter update just before Memorial Day, and I emphasize certain words in this update, Mike admitted that while he got the theatrical rights, getting digital rights may be a different bug to hunt:

In the interest of full disclosure, we want to let you know that while we are thrilled to be doing Starship Troopers, working with a big studio is more complicated than how we usually do things on our own. For instance, negotiating the rights to riff a movie live in a theater is not the same as negotiating for the digital distribution rights of said live show. They are two different departments and what works for one may not work for another. We know that the digital download of the live show was one of our most popular rewards choices and are going to do everything in our power to be able to deliver the reward. But we have not secured these rights as of yet, and there’s a chance that Sony may not let us do this. Hopefully it won’t be an issue. If for any reason we’re unable to deliver the digital download, we will of course offer up what we hope is a reward that is more than a fair substitute. You will be kept in the loop as this develops, and we may even run ideas by you if we’re forced to choose a new reward.

Since that was the case, Mike and his minions have offered (and about time) the Rifftrax Live version of Manos, Hands of Fate. This is great because it's a version that's more complete than the classic MST3K version (I reviewed it for this blog). They will also provide a riff of ST, plus five bucks from Depending on the donation, others will get an extra mp3 for any movie they want. So, it's a good peace offering.

So, don't be too mad at Mike Nelson and his Rifftrax minions. It's not as easy as making an mp3 riff on The Avengers while no one's looking. Getting something like Starship Troopers for Rifftrax Live  is an accomplishment in itself, and a reward for those who contributed to the Kickstarter campaign.

Let's hope that our dreams of Twilight getting eclipsed by Rifftrax Live will happen eventually. Until then, we'll have to do it the old-fashioned way: getting the DVDs and mp3 riffs, and pretend we're at the local Cinemark Suburban 14.

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