When projects like a movie adaptation of a CW show that was cancelled in 2007, a non-sequel to a Nintendo 64 game, and a drama film by the guy from Scrubs manage to get millions of dollars, it's easy to get the impression that Kickstarter users will fund literally anything as long as there's a vaguely famous name involved. Well, some celebrities tried to test that theory, and they found out that, nope, even the Internet has its limits. Hence this ridiculous bunch of failures:
CBS Television Distribution
You may remember Melissa Joan Hart from Clarissa Explains It All or Sabrina The Teenage Witch, depending on whether you're a normal '90s kid or an uncultured swine. She's also had roles in a few movies, including Drive Me Crazy, which was ... well, it was a film.
20th Century Fox
Apparently, Hart doesn't get many interesting movie offers because people still see her as Sabrina, so she launched a Kickstarter for a movie that will completely transform her image. Called Darci's Walk Of Shame, the film is described as a "funny, sexy, screwball, adult, romantic comedy" that will give her an opportunity to "make out with hot sexy guys."
No, Hart doesn't actually say that last phrase in the project page. Come on. Her mom does.
Why It Failed:
Yep, the project includes a remarkably awkward introduction video in which Hart's real mom explains to her what a "walk of shame" is, because that's the central conflict of this film: Darci has a one-night stand and needs to sneak past her family and friends before they notice, but "she faces an obstacle course of hurdles that would make a hardcore Marine fall to his knees and sob like a baby." So it's like a Mr. Bean episode, but even sexier.
The video also reveals that Hart plans to break away from Sabrina The Teenage Witch by ... hiring the same people who made Sabrina The Teenage Witch. Also, doing this:
With such a winning plot, it's quite a shame that they only got $50,000 out of the $2 million they wanted before they cancelled the Kickstarter. It's especially surprising considering the extravagant rewards they offered, such as having Melissa Joan Hart follow you on Twitter for a full year -- if you give $300. Eh, we're pretty sure we could get the kids from The Adventures Of Pete & Pete to follow us around in real life for half that.
Gaiam Vivendi Entertainment
German director Uwe Boll is the Uwe Boll of video game movies. His auspicious list of credits includes being the director of House Of The Dead, Alone In The Dark, Far Cry, and BloodRayne, all of which were notable for being garbage. One of his better-performing films was an adaptation of the psycho-simulator game Postal, which has a whopping eight percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Incidentally, "eight" is also the mental age of the film's target audience.
Gaiam Vivendi Entertainment
Boll is still getting work, making such films as Bigfoot Vs. Zombies and Zombie Massacre 2: Reich Of The Dead (we are not clever enough to make that title up), but it sounds like nobody is letting him near video game properties anymore. That's probably why in 2013 he had to go to Kickstarter to get funding for his latest masterpiece, Postal 2. A sequel to a critically-panned film from a director who has made some of the worst shit Hollywood has ever seen? What could go wrong?
Why It Failed:
You may think it's obvious why the campaign failed, but you have no idea. The Kickstarter description reads like Boll hit his head while writing it and treated the concussion with a generous dose of mescaline. There's really no way to improve this, so we'll just show you:
The rewards were pretty fascinating as well. The more you donated, the more involvement you got in the movie, up to and including directing an actual scene that the backer wrote themselves, which is a pretty big responsibility -- could even an inexperienced amateur manage to suck as much as the Uwe Boll? For $5,000, Boll proposes that "you will sit and watch a film of your choosing with him at his home in Vancouver," which sounds more like a terrifying demand than a fun reward.
The Kickstarter was cancelled after only getting $29,977 out of the $500,000 needed, but Boll still had some faith in the crowdfunding model. Last month, he came back with another Kickstarter for Rampage 3, a story about a mass murderer played by the teen bully from Air Bud. Despite reducing his expectations and only asking for about $50,000 this time, the Kickstarter didn't even get close to that amount. Boll handled this with the grace and maturity we've come to expect from him: by telling Kickstarter, Hollywood and everyone else to get fucked.
The video ends with Boll claiming he's quitting movies to become the Uwe Boll of golfing all day. We have to say we feel pretty bad for the person who donated $10,000 to have a speaking role in Postal 2, though. Now that beautiful dream will never come true.
One Little Indian Records
While the idea of our children receiving a Bjork-developed curriculum gives us pause, we have to admit this project is pretty cool. Bjork's Biophilia Education Program is an initiative in which schoolchildren use musical apps (all based on songs from her 2011 album) to partake in various educational activities, setting them up for a lifetime of discovery and molly addiction.
The only problem was that the apps were developed for Apple products only, and iStuff is pretty damn expensive, what with it being made out of unicorn horns and all. So, Bjork launched a Kickstarter campaign to get the apps ported to Android and Windows 8, where they could be enjoyed by millions more people, and they could also be on Windows 8 for some reason.
Why It Failed:
Leaving aside the fact that the "philia" suffix has unfortunate associations when it comes to children, the project was probably a little too ... Bjork to succeed. For instance, one of the first things people saw when they looked at the project page was this backer update Bjork sent out in the form of a handwritten note (possibly on a cocktail napkin):
The whole idea of an "album app" is a pretty bizarre one in the first place, and it's even more confusing to realize that it will be used in schools as a teaching tool. How, exactly? Well, Biophilia's official product description calls it "an extraordinary multimedia exploration of the universe and its physical forces, processes and structures," and "a three-dimensional galaxy with a compass allowing navigation between the 3-dimensional universe and a two-dimensional track list." Which sure sounds nice, but we have no idea what the fuck we just read. Probably because we didn't have enough Bjork in our classrooms as children.
Also, it's great that she's trying to play Dangerous Minds with everyone in Iceland and all, but c'mon, she's sold like 20 million albums and she can't afford 375,000 pounds for a port? She probably spends that much on her truly legendary hair.
One Little Indian Records
The campaign ended up being cancelled after ten days, having made a small fraction of its goal. Luckily, a company soon reached out and offered to port the app to Android, and it was eventually released there anyway (but not on Windows 8, because fuck Windows 8).
Zosia Mamet is most famous for roles like Shoshanna Shapiro on HBO's Girls, Peggy's lesbian friend in Mad Men, and David Mamet's daughter in real life. Mamet, of course, is the critically-acclaimed writer behind films such as The Untouchables, Glengarry Glenn Ross, and Wag The Dog. With that sort of pedigree, a Kickstarter from Zosia and her sister Clara must be some sort of film project, right? Yeah, if you consider a music video a film. And for the $32,000 they were asking for, we would.
So whose music video is this, you ask? Theirs, of course! Zosia and Clara formed a band called The Cabin Sisters, which offers a "unique brand of folk via body percussion, banjo and harmonies," which definitely sounds like a legitimate musical style and not two bored 20-somethings fucking around in front of a microphone.
Why It Failed:
Honestly, we're not sure we need to explain why this one failed. It shouldn't come as much surprise that only 80 people wanted to put their money toward filming a music video for the side project of two already rich women. Their video pitch did make a convincing case for their need of better camera equipment, though:
One thing they didn't bother making a case for was the music video itself -- the only indication of what it would look like is a brief mention of "beautiful gowns, statues, a large opulent loft space, extensive make-up, [and] saturated tones needing anamorphic lens (for those technically inclined)." Wait, are they gonna hire Meatloaf or something? It seems that potential backers were also not swayed at some of the backer rewards, which included a Skype call with the girls for a mere $2,000. Presumably, this Skype call would then be turned into their second music video.
While musicians will sometimes have luck turning to acting, the reverse is almost never true; Eddie Murphy's masterpiece "Boogie In Your Butt" being the exception, of course. It's hard to imagine that The Cabin Sisters are going to be drastically better in that regard. We have to admit, though, that we're extremely curious if this project would've been nothing but 40 minutes of clapping and sumptuous gowns.
Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem is considered one of the greatest horror games for the Nintendo GameCube, or any console. It contained not just creepy imagery, but also plenty of fourth-wall-breaking mindfucks that knew exactly how to push a gamer's buttons.
People clamored for a sequel, but all hope seemed lost when the development company, Silicon Knights, went under. Then, suddenly a light shone through the murky haze: Precursor Games, a studio made up of the remains of Silicon Knights, announced a crowdfunding campaign to create a game called Shadow Of The Eternals, a "spiritual successor" to Eternal Darkness, if the Asylum-esque name wasn't obvious enough. And sure, they asked for $1.35 million to make the game, but if the guy who made Grim Fandango could raise over $3 million, what would stop Precursor from getting their masterpiece funded?
Why It Failed:
Oh right, we didn't mention the reason Silicon Knights died: They came down with an unfortunate case of Being Douchebags. They were sued by Epic Games for stealing parts of the Unreal Engine for their games, and had to pay $4.45 million in damages. How excited would you be for this pitch: "Help us fund a new game from the studio that collapsed under its own assholeness"?
Precursor's history was only one of the reasons potential backers were reluctant to give these people money. The company originally set the campaign on their own website (using PayPal) instead of going through a crowdfunding site, which didn't inspire a lot of confidence. People were also somewhat concerned that, according to the site, there was no guarantee the game would be made if their funding goal was reached. Also, one of their employees was arrested for child pornography. Yeah, we probably should have led with that one.
The campaign eventually moved to Kickstarter, but the project continued to languish, partly due to the involvement of CCO and infamous dickbag Denis Dyack, who had previously been accused of embezzling studio money and mistreating his employees at Silicon Knights (as if working on Too Human wasn't punishment enough). Despite his attempts to address these charges with a 30-minute YouTube video, the campaign was cancelled and re-restarted with a smaller goal, but it failed to meet even half of that.
Lots of Kickstarters fail, but few fail so hard that they destroy a company. Dyack eventually announced that the project was on hold, and that Precursor Games was "taking a break." That was two years ago, so presumably the developers have started seeing other people by now. And now, the saddest epilogue: In recent weeks, a not-at-all-bitter Dyack has thrown his hat in with GamerGate, the ultimate resting place for all the big whiny babies of the gaming subculture. Nope, never saw that coming.
When you think about D.M.C. (of Run-hyphen fame), one thing comes to mind: the phantasmagorical world of comic book superheroes. That's why in 2013, the legendary rapper announced he was launching a Kickstarter to fund a 64-page graphic novel "that is sure to change the face of pop culture!" You already know what the comic is about, on account of pop culture having been irrevocably changed by it and all, but let us remind you anyway: It's set in 1985 and focuses heavily on hip-hop culture, showcasing the "true grit of pre-Giuliani New York," since we all know that Rudy Giuliani sucked all the fun out of being a New York rapper.
Why It Failed:
By the way, did we mention who the main character was?
Yeah, the comic is seriously set in an alternate reality where D.M.C. went into superheroing instead of rapping, meaning that he wears costumes slightly less ridiculous than the ones he had in real life. When he isn't teaching junior high English in his secret identity (despite being only 20 in the year the comic is set), D.M.C. fights drug dealers. It also doesn't help that both of the suggested hero designs are basically "a normal rapper with big enormous hands," which looks a little freaky. Maybe he needs them to hold some giant microphones?
The project ended up failing, with only $5,537 of its $100,000 goal met. But the comic eventually ended up getting made anyway. And according to the quotes in the "press" section, there are actually people who like it quite a bit. We guess there is some dramatic potential in examining the hellish landscape the world must have become since "Walk This Way" never came out.
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