Reward upsets Veronica Mars' Kickstarters

MATTHEW BUNGARD
Last updated 14:51 17/03/2014
KICKSTARTER HAS LANDED: Veronica Mars star Kristen Bell in the theatrical followup to the cult TV series.

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What's the worst way to reward some 50,000 fans who donated to your cause? By not giving them the promised reward. Or, at least, the reward in a format they're accustomed to.

When a Veronica Mars movie project was unveiled on popular crowd-sourcing website Kickstarter, the campaign quickly gathered momentum as devoted fans (or Marshmallows) emptied their pockets to the tune of $5,702,153, the most ever raised at the time.

If a fan donated $35 or more, they were promised a "digital copy" of the film on its release date, March 14. All in all, there were 91,858 backers for the film, with more than 50,000 of those donating enough to receive a copy of the movie.

Fans were in for a rude shock however, when they found out that in order to watch the film, they had to register for both social film website Flixster and cloud-based streaming service UltraViolet. Following this, users were forced to watch the movie inside an app, rather than actually have a downloaded copy of the film which could be watched anywhere, or transferred to a different device.

This digital copy, which was locked to Flixster, also only came in standard definition.

These might seem like the definition of first world problems, but in an age where companies are fighting harder than ever against online piracy, you would think that making it easier to acquire media legitimately would be top priority. For many, their response was to turn to Amazon or iTunes - effectively buying it twice - or torrenting websites for a copy of the film.

Director Rob Thomas was quick to try and appease fans after negative feedback, saying "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 favourite 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."

Warner Bros US has said it will compensate fans who contacted customer support after buying the film elsewhere. A spokesman for Warner Bros Australia told Fairfax that they were unaware of any backlash from Australian fans.

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This is not the first time that fans have tried to purchase or acquire one of their favourite shows/films by legal means only to get caught up in red tape. In 2013, many fans of Arrested Development tried to buy the long-awaited fourth season through Netflix, only to run into problems with geo-blockers. In the end, when illegal downloading is just easier, can movie and television studios really blame anyone but themselves?

Reviews for the feature-length version of the popular crime drama have been largely positive - Veronica Mars currently holds an 8/10 rating on IMDB, and a 75 per cent "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

- Sydney Morning Herald

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