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I saw Veronica Mars, thanks to a $35 donation, 3 websites, 2 apps and an $8 movie ticket

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Let’s begin with a disclosure/disclaimer: I was a fan of Veronica Mars when it first premiered in 2004, and remained a fan through its three-season run. While I was disappointed when it was canceled, I didn’t spend the seven years since mourning it too much; in fact, it wasn’t until the morning that series creator Rob Thomas unveiled his record-breaking Kickstarter campaign for a film-length follow-up that I realized how much I wanted to see that movie.

So, like 25 percent of the film’s more than 91,000 backers, I contributed to the campaign at the $35 level, and over the last year I have thus received a T-shirt, stickers and almost 90 Kickstarter emails from Thomas about the progress of the project. Friday, I received the final rewards from my pledge — digital copies of the film and the screenplay. I also went to see the movie at a movie theater. It’s been a long day with Veronica Mars.

$35 donors got to log into some websites!

On Wednesday (Kickstarter campaign status update #88), it was announced how exactly us donors would be receiving our copies of the movie:

In the end, Flixster was the only service able to provide download codes to all of our backers, in all countries, on the same date, without restricting where the movie could be screened or sold. (Which, if you ask us, is pretty awesome.) If it was possible to let you choose your preferred download service, we would.

That wording might suggest that the reason for this decision was down to technical issues — except that Flixster/UltraViolet is not the only way to digitally distribute a film.

The issue, in this case, is likely the fact that Flixster is owned by Warner Bros. (s TWX) — the studio which has held the rights to Veronica Mars from the beginning, and was actively involved in creating the Kickstarter campaign and producing the film.

As someone who prefers iTunes, streaming, or copyright-free digital downloads, this meant a descent into DRM hell.

First, Flixster. While I’d previously downloaded the iPhone/iPad (s AAPL) app before, this was the first time I’d ever had reason to use it to watch media — it’s how I look up movie showtimes.

Because you don’t need to log in to a Flixster account in order to look up movie showtimes, I couldn’t remember my password and had to reset it. (And oh, it turns out that Flixster gave me a free copy of the 2003 Nicholas Cage movie Matchstick Men at some point in the past. Thank you, Flixster!)

Once I was logged in, I was then asked to link Flixster to an Ultraviolet account, which I set up for the first time. That’s where I hit a technical snag, where my attempt to link the UltraViolet and Flixster accounts didn’t appear to work, and when I tried to start the process over, my activation code for the digital download was rejected as already used.

So I Googled “UltraViolet,” found the official UltraViolet website, and tried logging into that — it worked, and some navigation through Flixster’s website eventually linked the two accounts, with both of my new movies appearing in my Flixster library across all devices.

flixster library screenshot

$35 donors still had more work to do, to watch it on television

I then attempted to actually start watching Veronica Mars. On my iPad, the opening scene loaded up quickly (once I updated the Flixster app to the most up-to-date version), but when I tried mirroring the iPad directly to my TV via a digital AV adapter and HDMI cable, Flixster recognized that I’d connected a secondary display, and refused to play because of “licensing and studio restrictions”. So my best option became the VUDU app for PlayStation3, (s SNE) which would load up all of my UltraViolet content.

I’ve used VUDU once before (after getting a free credit), so I had an account for the service. But my new UltraViolet account wasn’t connected to it, so I returned to my computer to log into VUDU via browser and address that issue.

Once accomplished, VUDU did update almost instantly, and streaming was smooth. But that’s three different accounts I had to log into or set up, to play Veronica Mars (a movie I technically helped make possible) on my television.

From a business/strategy standpoint, this makes a lot of sense: In order to watch Veronica Mars, Warner Bros. made me figure out how all of this works, and I’m now in theory set up to purchase more movies from these services.

On the other hand, I am now very, very appreciative of the simplicity of iTunes. And I’m not the only one — other donors have been quite vocal about all of this, leading Thomas to send out his 89th Kickstarter update late Friday night:

We understand that some of you prefer other platforms or services for watching digital content… If you paid for a copy of the movie a year ago, we don’t want you to have less choice and freedom than people who decide to buy it today. And we definitely don’t want you to end up paying twice just to see the movie on your preferred service.

Please know that Warner Bros have given Customer Support a lot of freedom to help make things right, so if you’re having issues, please let them know: they’ll do their best to either help get Flixster working to your satisfaction, or, if you prefer, to provide an alternate solution.

Because, right now, if you want to buy or rent Veronica Mars, you can do it via Amazon, or (s AMZN) iTunes. (Amazon has the better pricing.) You may not get the satisfaction of helping make the movie happen. (Or a t-shirt.) But on a technical level, you might be better off.

$35 donors received the screenplay

While waiting for an app to update, I also downloaded my copy of the script, which was (according to the official notification) “personalized.” Personalized! Such a thoughtful, caring way of warning me that the PDF I received from was watermarked and, therefore, I would be liable if my copy ever leaked.

veronica mars screenplay screenshot

$35 donors wore their t-shirts to the movie theater

A month ago, I bought tickets with a group of fellow Mars fans to attend opening night at one of the AMC theaters showing the film in Los Angeles. I won’t say too much about the movie itself (except there’s a solid self-depricating Kickstarter joke in there), but it’s a real movie, professional and well-made, and seeing it in the theater was fun. Especially because the audience was full of “Marshmallows” who cheered when their favorite characters appeared on screen, who laughed at all the jokes and who applauded regularly and often.

A few of them also wore their official Kickstarter t-shirts, and at least half the theater lingered all the way through the credits. And at the very end of the credits is a note thanking the movie’s Kickstarter backers for making the film possible. Those there clapped loudly, and a woman behind me shouted “We did it!” The applause? It got louder.

I wouldn’t say Veronica Mars‘s return went perfectly. But I definitely feel like, in the long run, my $35 was well spent.

20 Responses to “I saw Veronica Mars, thanks to a $35 donation, 3 websites, 2 apps and an $8 movie ticket”

  1. Cindy Sight Laupper

    many people who provide the link to watch free movies.

    but the link who they given false. just to add to the visitors they are willing to deceive us with false link.

    I’ve been fooled a couple of times with the links they provide.

    but now I’ve found the correct link.

    after all this time searching in google I finally find him.

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  2. Cindy Sight Laupper

    Don’t believe the people above, they just trick you, so that you follow the instructions!

    and you’re going to regret it!

    Trust me. I dare say this because I’ve been fooled by them.

    I found a site that you are looking for, I found last night.

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  3. Rasya Christina

    I have many fooled by invitation abnormal and misleading.
    I got stuck again and again, with sweet words, but I fooled too.
    But now I’ve found the right place to download this movie.
    Very fitting for you who always want a quick and easy process, with the best quality.
    I’m sure you agree with me, I’ve watched this movie last night with my husband.
    I want to share with you, so do not experience the bad things that I experienced.

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  4. john doe

    I donated $35 to this as well. didn’t receive my email but found it in my spam folder a day later. after I went on twitter and found the drama that everyone else had gotten though i decide to torrent it. Quick and easy and guilt free!

  5. Len Feldman

    I’m also one of those $35 contributors, and I went through many of the same headaches as you did–the primary one being that neither Flixster nor UltraViolet work with the current release version of Chrome. I switched to IE, because these kinds of browser problems still happen (although they should have stopped years ago.) Also, all the problems that you and other marshmallows went through suggest that Flixster’s never been used so much by so many people. Yes, there were a lot of contributors, but not than many compared to everyone who uses Internet video. In other words, we just stress-tested WB’s largely unused Internet video service. I’m not particularly impressed.

  6. igorfrankensteen

    In fairness to logic and accuracy, the author could do with clarifying, both for herself and for the readers here, that there were two almost entirely separate things going on here, monetarily especially.

    In essence, she did NOT pay $35 in order to be able to download the movie and watch it on the over-complicated technology we are all wrestling with.

    She paid $35 in order for the movie to be MADE. And then $8 for a ticket to see it AFTER her donation contributed to putting it on the screen for her.

    Everything ELSE she went through, was gobbledygook (I love that spell-check actually has a “correct” spelling for that word) involved with how difficult it is to simultaneously give something as a gift, while still protecting licensing and other legal rights, in a world where every large corporation has adopted a fanatical religious insistence on outsourcing EVERYTHING.

    I am glad that she was ultimately satisfied with the result.

  7. lakawak

    Of course, most people HATE iTuens…so there you have it. Little known fact…if you have ever installed iTunes on any computer or device, you have literally given your consent to Apple to take a kidney if they ever try to reanimate Steve Jobs. Forget about all the things that they can, and WILL do to your computer. All because they think that THEY know how to handle your computer more than you do.

  8. It should be noted that in a follow up email, Rob Thomas noted that backers can switch out their Flixster versions for other platforms if you contact customer service. That is awesome! They are doing whatever it takes to make it right.

  9. Good Ol JR

    The first time setting up UV/Flixster/Vudu is a pain, but after that, it’s much easier to use. Besides, I only use Vudu as my UV point of entry and I find that just as easy to use as iTunes.

  10. mathieas

    Prior to this I’d never used Flixter or ultraviolet (those cards that come in the DVD box usually end up in the trash.) Still it only took me two minutes to create an account, and stream the movie on my PS3 through VUDU. I honestly don’t understand all the people who had problems.

    I could have just as easily written this same article about iTunes… First I had to figure out what iTunes is, then I realized I had it, then I had to download a new version, then I had to try and remember my password, then I had to find the movie, then it had to download.

  11. B.Albrecht

    UV is the most worthless streaming service, treating customers like criminals at every turn. It’s services like these that drive customers who are willing to pay to illegal sites. No one should have to jump through all those hoops.

  12. Half of your article is about how you picked up the remote control, pointed it, pressed on, changed the input, the whole, incredibly boring part of your problems with flitter, blah blah, and couldn’t even say if the movie was any good or bad. No one wanted to know about your return on investment.. just FYI!