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The last episode of the web series Prom Queen airs today, so you have till about 4 p.m. PDT if you want to pack in the archives before spoilers start littering the internet (Shut up already about the Sopranos finale, people! I might hear you!).
Vuguru, the company managing Prom Queen, told us today it considers the series successful and is picking it for another season. It has notched nearly 15 million total views, according to Vuguru. The show will resume airing online soon, following the same characters in the summer after their senior year of high school. Jane Hu of the Tornante Company promises me that’s not just a loophole to avoid all the cliffhangers expected to be resolved in today’s episode (which officially airs Wednesday, but diehards know they can find it almost a full day before on MySpace).
The addictive high school drama, which has been closely watched in part because of its ties to Michael Eisner, had previously said it was seeing about 200,000 views per day across the ten or so sites it is uploaded to.
As of last week, the series has received over 14,000 comments and over 21,000 forum postings, said Hu. The MySpace forums for the site are “on fire,” as creator Doug Cheney put it.
“When somebody has taken a still and and drawn a circle around a clue, it’s so satisfying,” he said, “because we think about that stuff and we talk about that stuff, but we don’t know if people will notice.” He pointed me to a special forum where a group of hardcore fans had split off, fed up with newbies asking stupid questions.
Reading up on the forums over the weekend, I got the other side of things — the fans watching the creators and the universe thev’ve maintained over the last three months, complete with frequently updated MySpace profiles for their characters. Determined to see if the show was really as interactive as it claimed to be, posters dared the creators to feature a pineapple in one of the episodes. Why a pineapple? I’m not quite sure; I haven’t yet found the original post — but it’s something just random enough so if it were included you’d know it was on purpose.
“Imagine this being an hour long program but stopping every 90 seconds and asking the audience what they think,” said Cheney. It’s like a focus group on steroids. “This isn’t TV and it’s not features, it’s something else.”
The season will live on, in various forms, the first of which is a downloadable compilation of the season to be sold through Amazon Unbox, said Hu.
Prom Queen has been a great experiment — with far more resources than just about any web show — and we’ll be paying close attention to additional details about its audience, revenue, and distribution.
Update: The Washington Post also has a story on the series today. Eisner discloses Prom Queen has made back the $100,000 to $150,000 spent by Vuguru.