After devoted Kickstarter backers of the Veronica Mars Movie complained about being forced to use the studio-approved Flixster/Ultraviolet service to watch the film, Warner Brothers is stepping up.
Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas announced last night that WB customer support would help backers who want to view the film on more widely used platforms like iTunes and Amazon.
“If you paid for a copy of the movie a year ago, we don’t want you to have less choice and freedom than people who decide to buy it today,” Thomas wrote in a Kickstarter update. “And we definitely don’t want you to end up paying twice just to see the movie on your preferred service.”
So if you’ve struggled to get Flixster working properly (and I know many people who have), or if you simply want to watch the long-awaited Veronica Mars film on your Apple TV, you now have other options. It looks like WB will offer refunds to backers who send along their receipts from other services, Re/code reports.
Let’s rewind: The Veronica Mars Kickstarter campaign was a long-shot. Fans of the show, which centered on a high schooler who also worked as a private detective, waited for years to see series resurrected. And as much as the cast and creator were willing to jump aboard, WB never stopped dragging its legs.
Enter Kickstarter and the possibility of crowdfunding the film with fans. After launching a Kickstarter campaign a year ago, the Veronica Mars movie ended up raising $1 million in four hours, breaking the site’s previous funding record. It reached its goal of $2 million in just 10 hours, and ultimately ended with $5.7 million raised. (Yes, I’m also a backer.)
After premiering at SXSW last week, the film ended up receiving generally positive reviews. So not only did Veronica Mars fans manage to make their dream project happen, it also ended up being good.
But trouble started yesterday when Kickstarter backers began receiving their codes to view the film, only to find that Flixster/Ultraviolet was their only option.
Movie studios have been pushing the Ultraviolet platform as an alternative to iTunes and Amazon — but it hasn’t received much traction. (If you’ve bought a Blu-ray recently, you’ve probably got some unredeemed Ultraviolet codes stacked up.)
Flixster, which is owned by Warner Bros., is one of many ways to view Ultraviolet titles. (You can also redeem UV titles on Vudu and other services, which only adds to the confusion.) Even though the film was funded primarily through Kickstarter, WB still put in money for distribution to theaters and other costs. If this were a truly independent Kickstarter, you can be sure the film would go through a DRM-free service like VHX.
While there’s a somewhat of a good intention behind Ultraviolet — studios want to offer a way to view their titles without being locked into iTunes and Amazon — ultimately, it’s a service that solves more problems for studios than it does consumers.
Ultraviolet isn’t as user-friendly as iTunes and Amazon, especially during signup, and people who only have Apple TVs have no way to view Ultraviolet titles on their televisions. So when tons of consumers were forced to use the service for the first time, it’s no surprise they complained.
WB’s promise to refund Kickstarter backers is the best possible outcome of this situation. And it couldn’t come too soon — the Flixster issues were shaping up to be one big black mark on an otherwise flawless Kickstarter campaign.