Joel Hodgson, creator of Mystery Science Theater 3000, is doing a new Kickstarter with a new goal: to make more MST3K, to do it in a more sustainable way free of reliance on networks (in this case he means Netflix), and to build an online virtual theater where you can have watch parties and see MST3K whenever you want! It’s a bold idea, and frankly MST3K is so much of a fixture in the geeking world that it just may be an idea whose time has come.

The show premiered on KTMA-TV (now WUCW) in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on November 24, 1988. It later aired on The Comedy Channel/Comedy Central for seven seasons until its cancellation in 1996. Thereafter, it was picked up by The Sci-Fi Channel and aired for three seasons until another cancellation in August 1999. A 60-episode syndication package titled The Mystery Science Theater Hour was produced in 1993 and syndicated to stations in 1995. In 2015, Hodgson led a crowdfunded revival of the series with 14 episodes in its eleventh season, first released on Netflix on April 14, 2017, with another six-episode season following on November 22, 2018. As of 2021, 217 episodes and a feature film have been produced as well as three live tours.

How Good an Idea Is It?

The Kickstarter just launched today, and they’re already within $172K of their first tier $2M goal. There are 29 days to go.

What Happens If They Hit Their Stretch Goals?

Glad you asked. If they hit their $5.5M third tier stretch goal, they’ll have the online virtual theater, apps for every device to view it with, plus enough money to make 12 new episodes of MST3K, a year’s worth of live events, and a dozen new shorts as well.

No, not that kind of shorts. They mean short films, not underwear.

Sheesh.

If things go really really well – and at the rate things are going, they just might – we might see things like Joel and the gang from the Satellite of Love riffing on their first 3D movie, or bringing the Gizmoplex into the world of virtual reality so you can watch with your VR headset. Or what the heck, maybe both.

The previous Kickstarter showed Netflix that there was not only still an interest in MST3K, but a big one – they broke all kinds of records on Kickstarter, and were able to fund two seasons of the show,  including 20 new episodes, 6 comic books, and 3 live national tours.

How Are They Spending the Money?

What Joel has published in the Kickstarter description is a valuable insight into how you can budget your own crowdfunding for your own project. We can see from his pie chart (mmm, pie …) exactly how much he’s budgeted out of each dollar contributed.

  • A full 65% of the money goes to making new episodes.
  • Rewards and customer support and maintaining staff to do backer updates gets 24%, and this is a slice of the pie that many Kickstarter creators often overlook.
  • The Gizmoplex they don’t think will cost more than about 3% of what they get from backers, though we think they’re in for a rough shock when they find out how much it’s really going to cost. There are a lot of hidden costs in the development of an online service, and it’s pivotal to how MST3K will be accessible to the public from here on out if all this goes according to plan, so we think they may have to adjust those percentages a bit.
  • Kickstarter itself takes another 8% in fees, so between fees and perks, 35% of what they take in goes to just that.

From where we’re standing, Mystery Science Theater 3000 appears poised to launch into its own orbit, free of the confines of both gravity and dependence on streaming services.

Want to help? Go to the Kickstarter and pledge. And if you can’t do that, help spread the word.

Disclaimer: Joel Hodgson has no idea we said anything about his Kickstarter. It would probably help us a great deal if he did. If you pledge, mention SCIFI.radio by name. Lets’ see what happens.

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