More than five years after Mystery Science Theater 3000 first launched a record-breaking Kickstarter campaign that ultimately raised more than $6.3 million and led to two seasons of the cult series’ Netflix revival, MST3K has returned to the crowdfunding platform with a new goal to produce more episodes. Today, series creator Joel Hodgson kicked off a new project labeled as MST3K’s “next chapter,” seeking millions more from the show’s wide-ranging online fanbase in order to create a new, self-produced and self-financed version of MST3K, independent from any TV or streaming network. Along the way, Hodgson and crew intend to create their own app and streaming platform, dubbed the “Gizmoplex,” which would be used to premiere newly crowd-funded episodes of the classic movie-riffing series, along with other content. Minutes after the campaign’s launch, it’s already generated more than $500,000.
Edit: In less than 24 hours, the MST3K campaign has just about reached its initial, $2 million goal.
Faithful MSTies will no doubt have hundreds of potential questions about this new project, but to begin with some of the most obvious: Yes, it seems like the core of the Netflix iteration of MST3K would be returning, including comedian Jonah Ray as host character “Jonah Heston,” and the voices of Baron Vaugn and Hampton Yount as Tom Serovo and Crow—or at least, it certainly sounds like them in the Kickstarter video. Other cast members are not as clear, although the Kickstarter mentions characters such as Felicia Day’s Kinga Forrester multiple times, so who knows? Sadly, the Kickstarter campaign doesn’t mention things like appearances from past cast members, or Joel himself. AV Club, meanwhile, states that both Felicia Day and Patton Oswalt would be returning as the current iteration of “The Mads.”
The full cast of the Netflix era of MST3K.
The accompanying Kickstarter video does makes the dollar values necessary to self-produce more MST3K episodes plain, and suffice to say, it ain’t cheap. For $2 million, Hodgson says the crew will be able to produce three new MST3K episodes, which would be uploaded to Gizmoplex as soon as they’re completed, rather than going up as a single, blocky season. For $3.3 million, the number of episodes increases to six, all the way to a final goal of $5.5 million that would fund a full, 12-episode season along with 12 bonus short films, in addition to funding Gizmoplex app development on more platforms. Where these episodes would be shot is unclear, but Hodgson states that work would begin on them “right away,” with new episodes potentially debuting as soon as the fall of 2021. This would certainly be a considerably faster turnaround than the wait for the first season of MST3K on Netflix. The Kickstarter states that the Gizmoplex would be hosting at least one live event per month for its first year, with Joel writing that “Our live events could include new sketches, trailers (done “MST3K style”), live Q&A panel discussions, interviews, contests… even the return of the MST3K “viewer mail” segment.”
Joel goes on to say the following: “If we get this right, the Gizmoplex Pass won’t just give you a monthly subscription to a catalog of MST3K episodes, or a place to watch the episodes you own on-demand: it’ll be more like a “Season Pass” that gives you tickets to every show at your favorite theater: front row, opening night, every time. Take that, Moviepass!”
Gizmoplex is the true central feature of this new Kickstarter campaign.
As for backer rewards, they include various lengths of subscriptions to Gizmoplex, coinciding with various numbers of episodes. For $50, for instance, a backer gets a six-month subscription to Gizmoplex, to include the premiere events of “up to six new episodes.” These rewards range all the way past the $6,000 level, where you can riff a short alongside Joel, to executive producer credit for a cool $25,000.
Of course, there are still many questions about the campaign, and especially the Gizmoplex, waiting to be answered, which Joel will no doubt end up addressing in future updates and interviews. For instance, will Gizmoplex host other, classic episodes of MST3K that are currently available through Shout! Factory? Is Shout! Factory funding any portion of this new iteration of the show? After this first season (season 13, technically), would subscriptions for Gizmoplex be expected to fund the next season? Or will every season come with a new crowdfunding campaign that needs millions of dollars to keep it going?
This is clearly a very ambitious goal for the MST3K crew, who always seem to think big when it comes to these projects. One has to think the cost could probably have been less if new MST3K episodes had been intended to premiere through Shout! Factory’s existing app, or even via YouTube, but Joel and co. are clearly intending to go big with their own platform, hopeful that they can build a self-sustaining fanbase that could produce new episodes indefinitely.
For more updates, check out the newly unveiled MST3K campaign at Kickstarter.