Funding Rush Hour 4: Crowdfunding Non-Blockbuster Movie Sequels

Crowdfunding non-blockbuster movie sequels would reduce the cost and risk to studios and capture the willingness to pay of fans eager to see the sequel to a movie they already loved.

Rush Hour 2 was and still is one of my favorite movies ever. Rush Hour 3 also had its great moments. I was just excited that there was another one to go watch and re-watch. So…where’s Rush Hour 4?

The sequels you tend to see come off the tail of high-profile blockbusters or multi-part stories. Let’s be honest, “Harry Potter 9 – The Owl That Got Away” could have come out in theaters, and people would have flocked to see it. But oftentimes, the lower profile movies which may attract a smaller group of followers don’t get their sequels. Or in my case, even though Rush Hour got its third movie, I STILL have a personal willingness to pay to see yet another installment in the kung-fu comedy series.

Is there a way we can capture the willingness to pay of these smaller fan bases to fund the movie sequels that studios otherwise wouldn’t make? In this blog post, I am proposing a platform that could help crowdfund the production of these non-blockbuster movie sequels. Users could submit their movie sequel demands and ideas on the platform. Studios could provide funding goals to produce the volunteered sequel, baking into the value the necessary return they would require. Users could then pre-purchase their ticket to the movie as their contribution to movie-funding.

Creating Value

A platform like this would create value in two main ways for movie studios, which must ultimately commit and take action to make these movie sequels. First, it would greatly reduce the risk in making a movie. Movie sequel or not, studios take major risks when making a movie. Aside from investing huge sums of money to produce a movie, they must then invest large amounts of money to market a movie to drive their ultimate goal of ticket sales. Instead of making a movie and hoping for ticket sales, this platform would reverse the process, guaranteeing the ticket sales (if successfully crowdfunded) that a studio would need to produce and get a return on a particular film sequel. While some studios might see this guaranteed revenue as a means to game the system and produce a poor movie in exchange for pre-paid ticket sales, their incentive would be to keep producing high enough quality films to ensure demand for additional movies.

This platform would also create value for studios by reducing the costs of making a movie. As mentioned above, the costs to market a movie are substantial and can reach hundreds of millions of dollars. This crowdfunding approach to producing movie sequels would in most cases eliminate the need to market movies. Fans are pre-paying for their tickets, and you already have engaged fans who have taken the steps to fund the movies they want to see. You don’t need to spend money to build awareness. This crowdfunding approach therefore reduces the overall cost of making a movie, and additional ticket sales outside of crowdfunders go straight to the bottom line.

Capture Value

Like many other crowdfunding platforms, this movie-funding platform could take a transaction fee off any successfully funded movie that gets green-lit. Focusing on movies that actually get green-lit would incentivize the platform to promote sequels that are getting serious funding traction and to work closely with studios to get accurate funding goals onto the platform.

Motivation

Underlying this entire proposal is the belief that many movies have fans whom are willing to pay to see a sequel. Ultimately, the motivation for these contributors to participate is the eventual movie they get to enjoy. The platform could also host special events for the releases and premiers of crowdfunded movies to incentives funders (I’ve never been to a premier, that would probably be pretty darn cool).

While studios currently need to take bets on each movie they make, this platform would reduce the cost and risk to studios to produce more niche movie sequels and capture the willingness to pay of fans eager to see the sequel to a movie they already loved.

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5 thoughts on “Funding Rush Hour 4: Crowdfunding Non-Blockbuster Movie Sequels

  1. Haha, you hooked me with the title. The Rush Hour series was also a big staple of my adolescence!

    Are you familiar with the crowdfunding success of Veronica Mars? They raised over $5m in order to produce a full-length movie, and I believe it stands as one of if not these most successful Kickstarter campaigns to date.

    For me, it also begs the question about whether the movie would need to be released to theaters at all? Why not just release as digital only? Email a link to backers with a code to login and watch the movie, and you’ve also saved costs on the distribution.

    Challenges I see are getting the stars to commit to doing the movie. These people want to have guaranteed work lined up, and schedule well in advance, so it would be difficult to commit to keep your schedule open if there is a chance the movie might not be made.

    I also think that you would need to charge more than the price of admission in order to fund it. Break-even releases are not interesting to the movie studios and directors that make these movies. But profit is. Therefore marketing would still be necessary in my opinion to draw a larger audience base.

  2. Definitely see this as an interesting opportunity, especially if the initial focus is on partial funding of a film as opposed to the entire budget.

    I believe most studio blockbuster movies currently get funded in groups of a dozen, or twenty, or thirty films (someone correct me if I’m incorrect)? This is an effort to reduce risks associated with the home run nature of the film industry. This seems like a great option for lower budget films.

  3. Couldn’t agree with you more on Rush Hour 2 and would love to see a fourth installment of the franchise!

    Building off of Jeff’s point earlier, given the success of the Veronica Mars kickstarter campaign, I do not see why their would need to be an independent crowdfunding platform for movies. I can envision a world where movie studios attempt to raise a certain percentage of their movie budgets from existing crowdfunding sites (especially for productions that have huge cult followings like the Rush Hour franchise) in order to greenlight a project. Furthermore, there are a handful of movies that fit the mold of a Rush Hour franchise that have a significant fan base and can warrant serious crowdfunding attention. I do not believe an entire dedicated platform would be necessary or sustainable.

    1. Meant to say “there are only a handful of movies”… Apologies

  4. Would be really interested to hear the writers / producers / artists point of view on this. I can see an argument that they would be worried these platforms stifle innovation – an argument i hear when studios only want to back big name sequels as it is at the expense of new or exciting ideas. I wonder if we are entering a world of Spiderman 17 being the only movie which becomes viable financially for major studios, and therefore big blockbusters become less common..

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