This weekend, we took in a movie—but, like everything, it had a legal twist. We saw Veronica Mars, which was executive produced by Daniel Ornstein, former special assistant to FCC chair Julius Genachowski and the son of Reed Smith's Judy Harris and the American Enterprise Institute's Norm Ornstein. Here at the Georgetown AMC, we snapped Judy, Norm, and some of their friends before the film. It could be the new paradigm for how movies are financed and distributed—it was financed by the crowdfunding site Kickstarter and was available for live streaming online on the same day as it released in theaters.
The concept seems to have worked well: the movie made $2M this weekend on only 291 screens. Rob Thomas, the creator of the original TV series, and Daniel Ornstein conceived of using crowdsourcing to fund the movie after an outcry from fans. At first, the Kickstarter was only open to US fans, and legal issues around sales tax—since each donation is a sale—had to be considered. When overseas fans wanted in, more lawyers had to figure out how to get people contributing from abroad. Here's Norm, after the movie at a reception upstairs at Chadwicks, sporting a gift from his Kickstarter donation. There's a sliding scale for gifts depending on how much is pledged (from a poster to being an extra in the movie). With the success of this movie, look for more Kickstarter-backed movies coming up—and more legal issues surrounding them.