Increasing Number of Sundance Films are Being Crowdfunded

Of the 140-plus films in this year’s Sundance Film Festival, 26 of them were crowdfunded through Kickstarter and Indiegogo. Zach Braff’s “Wish I Was Here” was one such film, which raised funds from more than 47,000 fans to make up part of its $5 million budget. Some question what kind of impact crowdsourcing might have on sales and distribution, but many filmmakers insist it’s a great way to raise awareness and interest in their productions.

“As the number of crowdsourced films and budgets continues to grow (including the March 14 nationwide release of Warner Bros.’ ‘Veronica Mars,’ which raised $5.7 million from fans alongside Braff’s $3.1 million campaign), so do the questions: What’s the impact of crowdsourcing on a film’s acquisition prospects and eventual distribution?” Variety asks.

“Wish I Was Here” co-producer Stacey Sher tells Variety that the crowdfunding is “a gift to the distributor” in that it is proof of fans’ true investment in getting the word out about the film. “It’s as close to pre-awareness as you can get,” she says.

Some distributors worry, however, that successful campaigns by productions that make big promises to fans might affect DVD and Blu-ray sales. Another concern is possibly having to take on those promises after an acquisition.

Dustin Smith, VP of theatrical distribution for Gravitas Ventures tells Variety, “You have to be sure that when you buy all rights to a movie, you don’t have to fulfill any of these Kickstarter deals. I think homevideo buyers are also wondering about its impact.”

Still, people like Indiegogo head of film Marc Hoffstatter say that many films gain more popularity even after their campaigns end. A Sundance filmmaker agrees, saying “Kickstarter is just as important as a way of articulating your voice to a wider audience.”