MST3K IN DEPTH: The Movie Selection Process

Hey pals, today’s update is an in-depth look at how we source movies for MST3K episodes! This update focuses on the first part of the process; the next will go deeper into the details around how we acquire movie rights.

Got questions or thoughts? Let us know below!

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Heads up, @Lesley — I get a 404 error from that link.

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Thank you SO MUCH, whoooops! I’ve fixed it now.

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That is a most excellent update, but I was hoping we might get to see some of Matt McGinnis’s many hats! :wink:

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It’s good that you all are still working with Shout Factory, and not say Netflix. When Shout gets bad stuff, it’s good bad stuff. When Netflix gets bad stuff, it’s bad bad stuff.

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Very cool update! Thank you @Lesley and thank you Matt for taking the time to sit down and explain the selection process. I agree there is sometimes a very fine line between good-bad and just bad-bad. If there’s nothing there as a movie, there’s not enough riffing in the world that will make watching it enjoyable (and this from someone who thinks Lost Continent is a forgotten gem of an episode)

Question for Matt:
So what do you do if you go through the lists and there’s just nothing there that will work? (either the picture/sound is bad, the content is just a no, or whatever) Do these lists come out monthly or quarterly that you can try again, or do you end up picking the best of a worst lot?

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One other part of the Sidehackers story that goes unmentioned is that the violent scene in question was actually an extremely important plot point, setting up everything that happens in the second half, forcing a very awkward moment where Crow just addresses the viewers directly while in the theater to explain that the hero’s girlfriend is now dead. Incidentally, the full movie is actually on Youtube now for anyone morbidly curious enough.

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Really well-written, informative update! My question is about after the picking of the films, then there is an order that must be chosen. Is there any theory as to shifting tones or genres in cheesy films or are they just put in whatever order and written from there?

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This update is AMAZING. THIS is the kind of stuff I’ve wanted to see all along from the MST3K Kickstarters. Thanks for making it happen!

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Thanks Lesley and Matt for the update on the movie selection process. Interesting stuff!

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First time poster, as I usually don’t have much to say that’s worth posting :).

That being said, I had to post to say that was a fantastic update. It was very informative, entertaining, and well written. Thanks for the peek behind the curtain.

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I love that you guys are leaning into the forum with frequent links to the threads here. I’m still waiting for my silly D&D character thread to get its link. I know it’s on the list, I’m patient. :wink:

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What about space for making riffs? How much does that go into it? Presumably there needs to be relatively quiet lulls so riffs don’t compete with film audio?

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That was very insightful. Thank you!

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This is certainly interesting when compared to the process for the original series, with the packages of VHS tapes being mailed to Best Brains and watched blind essentially. When Shout! acquired the Corman library, the first thing I thought of was its potential as MST3K fodder.

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Great question. Sometimes I come across lists that have nothing to offer. There’s no set schedule for when title lists come my way, but if a particular list has nothing usable, I’ll revisit an older list and see if there was anything I forgot about.

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This was super interesting! Can’t wait for the next part.

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This was my favorite update ever!!! I’m glad we get to learn more about the process of how mst3k works, and the quotes in the white boxes were great!

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I’ll preface this by saying the obvious - we all have different tastes - and while I agree, a good mix of genres and such is a plus, I found it funny that Delta Knights and Catalina Caper were used as examples as a counter to the Manos’ and such, as they are 2 of my least favorite episodes, I don’t get a lot of laughs out of them. Carnival Magic, however, was a gift, I love that weirdo movie (and want to buy the unriffed BD).

Season 6 is one of MST finest seasons IMO, and it’s filled with gray (Yucca Flats), depressing (High School Big Shot) nothing movies (Starfighters) that rank among the funniest, at least for me.

So yeah please don’t skip on those types, make sure they are part of the mix.

  • Interesting read, btw, I’m looking forward to next week’s update.
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I wonder if one of the reasons we got episodes like the Coleman Francis films and The Starfighters is because the 24 episode season order forced them to take on stuff like that. Also, now that MST3K is a bigger brand than it was during the initial run, I wonder if that has allowed them to be choosier when it comes to the movie selection. I do think that the movie selection for season 11 felt like the most representative of the spirit of the show, a distillation of what makes the show work, and that includes the occasional inexplicable train wreck (Carnival Magic in this case).

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