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November 23, 2015

How much do Kickstarter film projects aim to raise?

Crowdfuning image 02This is part two of a multi-part series on the statistics behind crowdfunded film projects.  Last week, I shared when and where Kickstarter film projects are launched and today I’m addressing the target amount they are trying to raise.

This is the result of a data-crunching research project into the 47,809 film crowdfunding campaigns launched on Kickstarter between its inception in April 2009 and October 2015. In summary…

  • Half of all Kickstarter film projects are trying to raise under $7,000
  • In 2009, the average film project was trying to raise $12,800 whereas in 2015 it’s $143,007
  • Action films have an average target goal of $406,669, making them the most expensive subcategory
  • The projects asking for the least were music videos ($17,387), short films ($22,088) and webseries ($23,003)
  • 53% of projects seeking under $1,000 succeed, compared to just 11.6% of those seeking over $50,000
  • The largest Kickstarter film was Veronica Mars, which raised $5.7 million from 91,585 backers in April 2013

How film crowdfunding works on Kickstarter

I’m aware that I have a number of different audiences visiting this site, from new filmmakers right up to seasoned film industry professionals.  Therefore, here is a very quick primer in how crowdfunding works for the former, and the latter can skip to the next section.

When launching a Kickstarter film project you are required to state a target goal and a deadline date.  When the campaign is live, people pledge money (making them ‘backers’) in return for rewards (such as DVDs, t-shirts, etc) or just to help make the project a reality.  

Once the deadline date has been reached, if the total amount pledged reaches the target goal then all the backers have their credit cards charged, the money is given to the project creator (minus fees) and the creator delivers the promised rewards to the backers.  

However, if the total pledged is less than the goal amount, then nothing happens – the credit cards of the wannabe-backers are not charged and the filmmaker gets no money. 

These lessons come from my new online course ‘A Crash Course in Crowdfunding for Filmmakers‘.  The course takes you through every step of the process of launching a successful crowdfunding campaign to raise your film’s budget.  Click here to see the full list of lessons from the course and for more free previews.

How much are Kickstarter film projects trying to raise?

Between April 2009 and October 2015, Kickstarter film projects were seeking an average of $61,766.  However, the average is raised by a small number of huge projects; the median goal over the same period was just $6,800.

Target goal of Kickstarter film projects 2009-15

What types of Kickstarter film projects ask for the most money?

Action film projects on Kickstarter have an average target goal of $406,669, making them the most expensive Kickstarter film subcategory. They’re followed by television ($406,669), horror ($233,249) and sci-fi ($220,536).  

The subcategories asking for the least were music videos ($17,387), short films ($22,088) and webseries ($23,003).

Average goal by subcatgory of Kickstarter film projects

Have project target goals increased?

Yes, the average goal of Kickstarter film projects has risen considerably over the past few years.  In 2009, the average film project on Kickstarter was trying to raise $12,800 whereas the 2015 average so far is $143,007.  

In the year Kickstarter launched (2009), over two thirds of film projects were trying to raise under $7,000.  By 2011 this had fallen to 57% and since then it has leveled out so that now about half of projects are trying to raise under $7,000.  The number of projects seeking over $50,000 continues to rise, from just 2.7% of film projects in 2009 to 12.3% in 2015. 

The chart below shows the percentage of film projects which tried to raise at least a certain amount.  2.7% fo the projects launched in 2009 were trying to raise over $50,000 but by 2015 that has risen to 12.3%.  Likewise, 0.3% of 2009 projects were aiming for more than $1m and by 2015 that’s 1%.

goal milestones of Kickstarter film projects

Interestingly though, when we split the results by the outcome of the project, we can see that it’s the failed projects which are bringing up the average.  For example, in 2009 the average goal of a successful film project was $4,534 and the average goal of a failed project was $18,715 (i.e. failed projects ask for an average of 4.1 times more than successful ones).  This year to date, the average goal of successful projects has been $12,654 and for failed projects it was $195,546 (15.5 times the average of successful projects).

Average goal by outcome of Kickstarter film projects

Does the size of a project affect its success rate?

Very much so.  The success rate for projects trying to raise $1,000 or less is 53%, compared with just 11.6% for those aiming for more than $50,000.

Success rate of  Kickstarter film projects

And if we split the first chart in this article by the project outcome we can see the same results.

Target goal of film Kickstarter film projects

The biggest Kickstarter film projects to date

The largest film on Kickstarter to date was Veronica Mars, which raised $5.7 million from 91,585 backers in April 2013.  Their original goal was a measly $2 million, which they reached just ten hours after the project was launched.

The table below shows the completed Kickstarter film projects which have raised the most money to date.  It’s worth noting that right now it looks likely that there will be a new entry before the end of the year.  The project Bring Back Mystery Science Theater 3000 is currently raising money and has already reached $2.4 million (112% of its goal). Only time will tell if it will manage to beat Zach Braff’s Wish I Were Here‘s $3.1 million by its deadline of 12th December in order to claim second place.

#ProjectCategoryLocationLaunchedTotal raisedOriginal goal% Raised
1The Veronica Mars Movie Project by Rob ThomasNarrative FilmSan Diego, USAMarch 2013$5,702,153$2,000,000285%
2Wish I Was Here by Zach BraffNarrative FilmLos Angeles, USAApril 2013$3,105,473$2,000,000155%
3Blue Mountain State: The Movie by Eric FalconerNarrative FilmLos Angeles, USAApril 2014$1,911,827$1,500,000127%
4The Newest Hottest Spike Lee Joint by Spike LeeNarrative FilmBrooklyn, USAJuly 2013$1,418,910$1,250,000114%
5Under the Dog by Mentat Studios LLCAnimationTokyo, JapanAugust 2014$878,029$580,000151%
6Bee and PuppyCat: The Series by Frederator / Cartoon HangoverAnimationNew York, USAOctober 2013$872,134$600,000145%
7The Bill Nye Film by David Alvarado and Jason SussbergDocumentaryBrooklyn, USAJuly 2015$859,426$650,000132%
8Video Game High School: Season Two by Freddie WongFilm & VideoLos Angeles, USAJanuary 2013$808,341$636,010127%
9The Cyanide & Happiness Show by Kris, Rob, Matt & DaveAnimationDallas, USAFebruary 2013$770,309$250,000308%
10For the Love of Spock by Adam NimoyDocumentaryLos Angeles, USAJune 2015$662,640$600,000110%
11Star Trek: Axanar by Axanar ProductionsScience FictionLos Angeles, USAJuly 2014$638,472$100,000638%
12Kung Fury by Laser UnicornsActionUmeå, SwedenDecember 2013$630,020$200,000315%
13Little Witch Academia 2 by Studio TriggerAnimationTokyo, JapanJuly 2013$625,518$150,000417%
14Chug by Zane LampreyFilm & VideoLos Angeles, USAApril 2013$591,805$500,000118%
15Bring Penny Arcade's Automata to Life by Penny ArcadeWebseriesSeattle, USAJuly 2015$473,494$322,637147%
16Lizzie Bennet Diaries by Pemberley DigitalWebseriesMissoula, USAMarch 2013$462,405$60,000771%
17Who is John Galt? by Scott DeSapioFilm & VideoPhiladelphia, USASeptember 2013$446,907$250,000179%
18What We Do In The Shadows: US Release by Jemaine ClementComedyNew York, USAJanuary 2015$446,666$400,000112%
19Endless Poetry(Poesía Sin Fin) by Satori FilmsDramaSantiago, ChileFebruary 2015$442,314$350,000126%
20"The Goon" Movie by Blur StudioAnimationVenice, USAOctober 2012$441,900$400,000110%

Data and methodology

I looked at all film crowdfunding campaigns on Kickstarter launched between the start of Kickstarter in April 2009 (the first film project I have was launched on 29 April 2009) and 2nd October 2015.  I excluded any projects still live when I collected the last of my data.  My formula for calculating success rates was “successful campaigns / (successful campaigns + failed campaigns)“.  This is very similar but not identical to how Kickstarter calculates success rates on their stats page.  

In today’s article, when I looked at goal averages for the sub-categories within Kickstarter’s Film and Video category I excluded Movie Theaters because they’re not strictly film projects.  Their average target goal was $779,979 and they have a success rate of 22.6% (28 succeeded and 82 failed).

All amounts mentioned are in US dollars.  If the project was run in any other currency then the figures were converted into US dollars using the exchange rate on the date the project was launched. 

To read more about my methodology and notes please read the Methodology section at the bottom of last week’s article

Epilogue

This is the second of my film crowdfunding articles – please bear with me as there will be a number of them.  There’s just so much data to share!

Next week, I’ll look at the amount projects received and by how many people.

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