How did Warner Bros. screw over the people who made the Veronica Mars movie happen? One word: Ultraviolet.
I was one of those people who giddily donated to the Veronica Mars Kickstarter on its first day, and despite the issues I've had with the campaign (from the decidedly minor, like the increasingly self-satisfied backer updates, to the decidedly less minor, like Warner Bros.' precedent-setting manner of exploiting crowdfunding to gauge fans' interest and save themselves millions of dollars), I'm still looking forward to seeing the movie in a theater this weekend.
Why am I paying it to see it in a theater instead of watching it for free at home, since one of my Kickstarter rewards was a digital version of the film? Oh, right: Because it turns out one of my rewards wasn't a digital version of the film that anyone could actually use. Instead of giving backers a downloadable file, or a code to download the film via iTunes or Amazon, or an easy streaming option, Veronica Mars was released to the people who made it happen using Ultraviolet, a studio-backed streaming system that's a huge pain in the ass and never, ever works.
Never heard of Ultraviolet? That's because nobody fucking uses it, because it fucking sucks. But studios are terrified of piracy, so they make constrictive things like Ultraviolet; not coincidentally, Ultraviolet is so constrictive that anyone with half a brain realizes, roughly five seconds into trying to use the thing, that it's both easier and faster to either (A) buy whatever they're trying to watch on iTunes or Amazon, or, more likely, (B) pirate whatever it is they're trying to watch.
Case in point: You can already watch a pirated version of Veronica Mars, as noted by Jason Bailey on Flavorwire. Bailey's piece—"Veronica Mars Digital Download Is a Clusterfuck for Kickstarter Backers"—is a must-read for anyone interested in how major studios are trying (and failing) to deal with the sort of digital accessibility that people who are comfortable with the internet—e.g., Kickstarter backers—have become accustomed to.
Or, as Bailey points out, maybe giving backers the film via Ultraviolet was part of a plan to make even more money off the fans:
When the time comes, we’ll probably end up punting the Ultraviolet option and just buying the damn thing on iTunes. And not to sound all conspiracy theory-minded, but I can’t help but wonder if that’s a not-unattractive side effect to Ultraviolet being so goddamn terrible; it allows the studios to make giving something away as difficult as possible, and some people aren’t going to go to the trouble. (Via.)
If that is the case, well... hey, it worked on me! I'll be seeing Veronica Mars—paying to see Veronica Mars, a movie which, technically, I already paid for—at the Living Room Theaters tomorrow night. On the upside, at least it's supposed to be good.