Crowdfunding for Specific Episode Rights?

I’m was wondering if there’s any fan interest or demand to raise money to get specific movies on the show that would normally be cost prohibitive?

For example, lets say that obtaining the rights for something like “The Giant Claw” (which I think would make an amazing Thanksgiving episode) , a certain Christmas movie , a Godzilla movie, etc. are too expensive for the show to afford.

If the production presented it to the fans as a, “If you want to donate “X” amount of money, we can afford to riff this film”, do you think fans would welcome that model?

Or maybe knowing that if they raised a certain amount of money, that would allow them to secure rights to record and release the Live Tour shows for the movie they’re showing there.

It’s tricky because what you wouldn’t want is to raise a certain amount of money, then go back to the rights holder and them raise their asking price, but obviously Rifftrax has had some success with this, and I’m thinking it might be something that could work for MST 3K too.

What do you think?

  • Yes, I would donate money if I knew it would secure a specific movie?
  • No, I prefer the current model of not knowing the films that are being considered before production.

0 voters

something like that?


I voted “No.” My objection isn’t based on whether or not I know of a prospective movie beforehand, though. It’s about not wanting to tithe directly to a studio or owner when they’re sitting on a crappy film out of greed or obstinance.

Plenty of other stanky fish in the sea. :wink:


Answered somewhat similarly to @CLANG_Potroast.

Acquiring rights has a lot of moving parts. Money is just one hurdle.


I would under the right conditions. Were a contract pre-negotiated and settled ahead of the raising of funds to where the money was the only remaining obstacle? Then Yes.


This is a completely valid point of view- can very much appreciate where you’re coming from on this.


Bingo. While we should encourage the redemption of bad cinema, not at the expense of rewarding studio incompetence.


Along with what everyone else said, I don’t think Toho will ever let Godzilla out of their grasp again so I think it would not be possible even to crowdfund a Godzilla movie.


Valid point- those probably aren’t ever coming back up for grabs. I just put it there as an example for the thought experiment.


I don’t think a movie like “The Giant Claw” would be the best to showcase in such a campaign. Like if MST3K wanted to do a blockbuster for a change, then maybe a RiffTrax style Kickstarter might be good, but it would also be kind of not what MST does. I think the movies MST does generally can’t be bigger than MST.

I’d rather more episodes of MST than more expensive movies.


Yeah, I changed my vote to “No” due to the persuasive argument outlined by several above.

Also, I don’t care that much: let the writers and production staff forage whatever weird stuff they find amusing. I’m fairly sure, despite some tedium, that must be a rewarding task to find some outrageous piece of some Wankel’s rotary engine wherever it can be found.


So lot of good responses here. I do want to say I see some comments that are addressing the quality or type of film I mentioned.

I agree I don’t want to see MST go
down the road of using blockbusters. Keep finding off the beaten path films instead of getting low hanging fruit.

I was just throwing out ideas, towards movies, but also want to suggest this concept could be used towards other aspects.

The current live tour (which apparently is getting great feedback!) shows, “Making Contact”. To our knowledge, this isn’t going to be recorded.

Same happened with “Super Argoman”. That was a GREAT riff and deserved to be recorded.

As mentioned in the Kickstarter update, that might be because of rights issues separate of just projecting it in theaters for the tour.

My initial question still applies to this scenario. If Joel and team said, “hey, we have this great film we can riff live, but can’t record unless we can raise “X” amount of dollars”, would that be something that would interest donors?

Perhaps the same responses would be made again, I just wanted to clarify my question.


I think there would probably be a much higher likelihood on something like “crowdfund a full theatrical release of live shows” or such, as you note. We have an idea of what we’re getting there.

Thats not to say I -wouldn’t- contribute if Joel wanted to get rights for something he felt strongly about (let’s say a film he wants for a second feature length mst).


Came here to say this. Plus, MST3K has a lovely habit of bringing us little known gems. For me it’s less about the surprise and more about sustaining the show longer term.

Thanks, @InterestingWerewolf, I think this is an interesting thought experiment, and worth discussing and airing out.


This interests me much more, considering how I’ve pestered Lesley and Ivan about it. It sounds like the rights secured were for performance, it similar, but not for distribution or streaming. This would be required for recording and selling/streaming/DVDs/what have you.

Boy do I wish that had worked out… I’m unlikely to ever make it to a live show, so a recording was kind of a dream.


Thank you @NotTVsFrank - appreciate the feedback! And as @JoeC and you both say, I think most everyone here would agree that first and foremost, the biggest concern is longevity.

We all want the show to continue on as long as possible- that should always be the goal. :slight_smile:


That is one downside to the live shows. They truly are unique experiences. There is just something different about watching the show with people in a live setting where anything can happen.

Hopefully one day that option will exist to allow people that can’t make it to the shows (maybe after they live crew is done touring for a season) to watch a recorded copy.

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I loved seeing Cinematic Titanic live and I love having those shows on disc, and wish we could have had more. If crowdfunding is what it took to have the same for MST, for sure I’d back it - to able to revisit “No Retreat, No Surrender”. would be a real treat. To see the shows that didn’t come to my town, like Argoman, damn straight I’d throw my money into that.


Hmm, this is a head-scratcher. I like the idea in theory – crowdfunding has done some pretty amazing stuff. But in practice I’d have doubts, for all the reasons already mentioned here. People certainly deserve to be compensated for creative work, but there’s a difference between reasonable compensation and greed, and greed seems to dominate.

Tragically, I think riffing is in some ways a victim of its own success. The well was poisoned as soon as MST became popular; every rights holder in the world sitting on some dusty old Z-grade film suddenly saw dollar signs, and I don’t think that cat can ever be put back in the bag.

So I’d really have to trust my gut on a case-by-case basis to determine whether to support a rights holder in this way.


I fall in-between. I’d like to know which films are going to be riffed in an upcoming season, but I don’t want to get bogged down in raising money for specific episodes. As has been said, having the money isn’t the only issue, and the rights aren’t eternal once they’re obtained.


If Joel and the team need a little more money because they see something good just out of reach… they should ask us backers. Likewise if things get a little tight and it’s a question of shaving things to make budget—I imagine COVID inflation is an issue for film production too, and I can scrounge a few more bucks if needed.

As for the live shows—I wouldn’t mind a RiffTrax-style “bring your own movie” track for those. The filmmakers of “The Brain” don’t seem to be charging Amazon too much, since it’s available free on Prime. I’d love that, even if slats are the new stairs.