If fans want it, these days they will probably get it

If fans want it, these days they will probably get it
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POSTED: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 - 10:12am

UPDATED: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 - 12:15pm

So, what would you like to see make it to your screen next?

Soon it might just be that easy to bring a movie or TV concept you have been longing for to fruition.

As the recent successful Kickstarter campaign to partially fund a "Veronica Mars" movie proves, fans are having more say today about Hollywood's direction than ever.

It begs the question: Will fans soon have the power to override studios and TV executives altogether to get a project green-lit?

"We are seeing the next wave in the democratization of media," said Craig Detweiler, director of the Center for Entertainment, Media and Culture at Pepperdine University. "It's gone from 'everyone can be a filmmaker' to, in a sense, 'everyone can be an executive.'"

"For decades studio execs have tried to figure out what fans want. Now Kickstarter is giving (fans) the ability to vote with their dollars.

In some ways, it seemed destined to happen.

Thanks to the explosion of social media in the past few years, viewers were able to quickly rally around -- or in some cases skewer -- everything from new music to the latest viral video. Who needs to wait until the morning after to dissect an awards show with friends when you can share your feelings with the Twittershpere in real time, with a hashtag to make it easier to find?

With so many people marathon watching their favorite TV shows, Netflix took the innovative step of making their first original series, "House of Cards," available as a full season at once, rather than week to week like the average show.

The gamble appears to have played right into the hands of consumers who hate to wait. (Don't believe that? Check social media when ABC pulls "Scandal" for a few weeks here and there; the roar from fans is deafening.)

The Verge recently reported that Ted Sarandos, chief content officer at Netflix, said "House of Cards" is "the most-watched thing on Netflix right now." The executive said that despite having an entire season available to viewers to watch at their discretion, or ahead of their friends who may also be watching, "it's still water cooler" chatter. "

"It creates a whole other etiquette around discussing shows and potentially spoiling plot points," The Verge reported on its site. "We're not encouraging people to binge," Sarandos said, but adds he thinks the show works better when watching one or two at a time.

Hollywood appears to be paying attention to the power of the fan. Thomas Gewecke is Warner Bros. Digital Distribution president and was an internal studio advocate for the Kickstarter campaign, which so far has netted more than $3 million in pledges for a "Veronica Mars" film. (Warner Bros. is owned by CNN's parent company.)

"The 'Veronica Mars' show has such an incredible fan base," Gewecke told the Los Angeles Times. "When Rob (Thomas, creator of the 'Veronica Mars' television series) came to us with the Kickstarter idea, we saw a unique opportunity to take a fantastic product, a wonderful universe that has so much richness and depth to it, and to try to have a new approach to how we do these projects."

Pepperdine's Detweiler said it's a smart move by studios.

"You have a built in fan base that is already working as your promotion and marketing department," said Detweiler, who is also the author of the forthcoming book "iGod" about how technology shapes people's spiritual lives. "They've already bought in for the first weekend of screenings, so the only thing you have to figure out is your upside."

It's not just movies and TV where audiences are wielding influence. When '90s female band Luscious Jackson reunited to produce more music, they sought out fan donations via PledgeMusic. Detweiler pointed out that along with the fan support could also come big expectations for those who may have raised their hopes possibly as high as the dollar amounts they paid to get the project off the ground.

"It could end up with fans (feeling) the same thing as execs, which is often buyer's remorse," Detweiler cautioned. "That thought of 'What was I thinking when I thought that was a good idea?'"
 

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