This 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.
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).
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% of 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%.
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).
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.
And if we split the first chart in this article by the project outcome we can see the same results.
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.
|#||Project||Category||Location||Launched||Total raised||Original goal||% Raised|
|1||The Veronica Mars Movie Project by Rob Thomas||Narrative Film||San Diego, USA||March 2013||$5,702,153||$2,000,000||285%|
|2||Wish I Was Here by Zach Braff||Narrative Film||Los Angeles, USA||April 2013||$3,105,473||$2,000,000||155%|
|3||Blue Mountain State: The Movie by Eric Falconer||Narrative Film||Los Angeles, USA||April 2014||$1,911,827||$1,500,000||127%|
|4||The Newest Hottest Spike Lee Joint by Spike Lee||Narrative Film||Brooklyn, USA||July 2013||$1,418,910||$1,250,000||114%|
|5||Under the Dog by Mentat Studios LLC||Animation||Tokyo, Japan||August 2014||$878,029||$580,000||151%|
|6||Bee and PuppyCat: The Series by Frederator / Cartoon Hangover||Animation||New York, USA||October 2013||$872,134||$600,000||145%|
|7||The Bill Nye Film by David Alvarado and Jason Sussberg||Documentary||Brooklyn, USA||July 2015||$859,426||$650,000||132%|
|8||Video Game High School: Season Two by Freddie Wong||Film & Video||Los Angeles, USA||January 2013||$808,341||$636,010||127%|
|9||The Cyanide & Happiness Show by Kris, Rob, Matt & Dave||Animation||Dallas, USA||February 2013||$770,309||$250,000||308%|
|10||For the Love of Spock by Adam Nimoy||Documentary||Los Angeles, USA||June 2015||$662,640||$600,000||110%|
|11||Star Trek: Axanar by Axanar Productions||Science Fiction||Los Angeles, USA||July 2014||$638,472||$100,000||638%|
|12||Kung Fury by Laser Unicorns||Action||Umeå, Sweden||December 2013||$630,020||$200,000||315%|
|13||Little Witch Academia 2 by Studio Trigger||Animation||Tokyo, Japan||July 2013||$625,518||$150,000||417%|
|14||Chug by Zane Lamprey||Film & Video||Los Angeles, USA||April 2013||$591,805||$500,000||118%|
|15||Bring Penny Arcade's Automata to Life by Penny Arcade||Webseries||Seattle, USA||July 2015||$473,494||$322,637||147%|
|16||Lizzie Bennet Diaries by Pemberley Digital||Webseries||Missoula, USA||March 2013||$462,405||$60,000||771%|
|17||Who is John Galt? by Scott DeSapio||Film & Video||Philadelphia, USA||September 2013||$446,907||$250,000||179%|
|18||What We Do In The Shadows: US Release by Jemaine Clement||Comedy||New York, USA||January 2015||$446,666||$400,000||112%|
|19||Endless Poetry(Poesía Sin Fin) by Satori Films||Drama||Santiago, Chile||February 2015||$442,314||$350,000||126%|
|20||"The Goon" Movie by Blur Studio||Animation||Venice, USA||October 2012||$441,900||$400,000||110%|
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.
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.