For a few months now, the words ‘crowdfunding’ and ‘Kickstarter’ have been on the lips of producers and studio executives all over Hollywood. The tremendous success of the “Veronica Mars‘ movie on the crowd-funding platform has seemingly opened the way to all kinds of other projects, most notably Zach Braff and his second feature “Wish I Was Here.” But we’ve always been a little worried that it could be a double-edged sword; that executives would stop rolling the dice on risky projects and simply go straight to the fans to root through their wallets.
And lo, it came to pass. Deadline reports that Ron Howard (estimated net worth: $140 million) and Brian Grazer (estimated net worth: $100 million) were in Cannes to introduce their slate for their company Imagine Entertainment, and among the news is that the duo are planning to use crowdfunding to raise money for the movie version of the TV series “Friday Night Lights” that’s been talked about for some time. As Grazer points out, it’s the latest twist for the property, based on the book by Buzz Bissinger, saying “We made a terrific feature with Pete Berg, turned it into a terrific TV series and will now make a movie from that series. I’m not sure such a thing has been done before.”
Now, “Friday Night Lights” is great stuff, maybe the last truly great network drama, but this is always what we’ve been afraid of; full-on, inside the system folks like Howard and Grazer turning to Kickstarter and its similar properties because, frankly, it’s easier than getting a movie funded in a more traditional way. This isn’t the first time the idea’s been mentioned, but it feels pretty gross for Howard and Grazer to be so upfront about it here. When “Veronica Mars” did it, it was at least innovative; this just seems cynical, and if you’re planning on giving to it, we have a bridge we’d like to sell you. Also: there’s already a “Friday Night Lights” movie, and it was pretty good.
Away from that, the duo (whose latest film “Rush” hits in September) have plenty more in the works. Their long-planned, long-delayed adaptation of Stephen King’s “The Dark Tower” is creaking forward; Media Rights Capital have committed to make a single film starring Russell Crowe, with the possibility of the additional movies and TV series that were originally planned if it’s a success. But that said, Grazer’s apparently had an offer from a single investor willing to back the original plan, so we’ll see how that turns out.
Also in the genre department is a reboot of Anne Rice‘s Lestat series, produced by “Star Trek” writers Alex Kurtzman & Bob Orci, with an adaptation of the fourth novel in the series, “The Body Thief,” while they also have Tate Taylor‘s James Brown biopic, a new comedy-drama called “The Most Wonderful Time,” starring Diane Keaton, Alan Arkin, Annette Bening, Liam Hemsworth and Amanda Seyfried, a Pele biopic, and two Howard directorial efforts; Jay-Z concert movie “Made In America,” and seafaring picture “In The Heart Of The Sea” with Chris Hemsworth. No news yet as to whether any of those will be Kickstarted too…