Director Spike Lee faced quite a bit of Internet scrutiny when he chose to crowdfund the “Newest Hottest Spike Lee Joint” through Kickstarter - probably more so than Zack Braff or Veronica Mars‘s Rob Thomas before him. And even though the only information about the movie he gave people was that it would be about people who are addicted to blood, and that it isn’t a Blacula or vampire film, the film reached its goal and earned the third highest amount of pledges for a film or TV series, raising over $1.4 million. But as it happens, the majority of that money didn’t come from your friendly neighborhood Spike Lee fan, as the website Mars Investigations adequately lays out. Things already sounded fishy when it was revealed that Steven Soderbergh had donated $10,000. Now we know he was far from the only backer with such generous intentions.
Even though Mars Investigations lays out the top ten film and TV Kickstarter campaigns, we’ll mostly be comparing the top three, since they were the most publicized and recognizable projects. If you’ll recall, it took Veronica Mars less than a day to hit its $2 million goal, while it took Braff a couple of days to earn Wish I Was Here’s $2 million. So the fact that it took Lee almost a month to get to get his $1.25 million already shows you this project had nowhere near the amount of hype going for it. That fact is highlighted by the number of backers for each film. Over 91,000 people raised Veronica Mars’ $5.7 million and over 46,000 people donated towards Braff’s $3.1 million total. How many people ponied up funds for Lee? A mere 6,421. That’s less than the number of people who helped fund an adaptation of the comic book The Goon, and I’m damned certain more people are aware of Lee than that amazing comic series.
The average amount of money spent on Veronica Mars and Wish I Was Here per contributor was $62-$66, but the average donation to Lee’s film was $220. Astoundingly, 26.1% of Lee’s money came from donors pledging $10,000 or more, while 42.8% came from “unlisted” backers, which is comprised of people who donated anonymously without the need for rewards, and the people who donated more than the $10,000 top donation. This anomaly is made even more strange when you realize that only 8.6% of Lee’s donors were in the unlisted bracket. Combined with the 0.6% of $10,000 donors, you get a outrageous result.
9.2% of Lee’s backers combined for 68.9% of the money earned. Meanwhile, those who donated between $1-$99 made up the 79.6% majority of the pledgers, but only were only responsible for 7.8% of the entire funding. Take a look at the charts below for a complete breakdown of the numbers.
So whenever the NBA season starts and you see a revolving door of people sitting courtside next to Lee, you can rest assured that these are the people whose thick wallets paid for the director's next film. And it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if we found out Lee personally asked for it, feeling the pressure of a potential failure.
Let's hope that the movie turns out to be worth it. The recent cast addition of Michael K. Williams helps, but it’s no guarantee.