The fan-backed renaissance of “Veronica Mars” in film form was one of the darlings of last week’s SXSW. The Kickstarter project to bring the cult fave franchise back as a Warner Bros. movie premiered to generally good reviews… except from the very fans that backed the project and had trouble downloading their copy.
In a weekend dustup, many backers of the project were frustrated in finding that their copy of the film was being distributed by the perennially wonky Ultraviolet platform as administered via Flixster, a Warner Bros. property. Warner Bros. insists that the overwhelming majority of customers had no trouble getting their copy from Ultraviolet, which was designed as a way to distribute digital copies of purchased Blu-ray discs. I have had my own problems with the platform over the years, mainly in the sign-up process and limitations on playback options.
Further frustrating Kickstarter backers was that they were being restricted to the Ultraviolet platform while the film was readily available to others on iTunes and Amazon, readily viewable on Apple TV and via the Amazon Instant Video apps.
To Warner Bros.’s credit, they responded very quickly to the snafu by offering $10 refunds to the Kickstarter backers so they could purchase the film on the platform of their choice.
Producer Rob Thomas explained on the Kickstarter page that the decision to use Flixster as the primary distribution vehicle for backers was the only option at the time for redeeming supporters. Of course a lot of this has to do with the fact that it was the Warner Bros. Digital distribution outfit that greenlighted the project and had signed on to fund marketing and distribution. While the company is distributing the film through all the major digital channels to general consumers, understandably they wanted to feature their own owned-and-operated channels like Flixster among backers. And likely it was easiest to give backers access to the film via their own app.
But the user frustration is yet another indication of how consumers expect their content where and how they want it. The digital cat is out of the bag.