'Veronica Mars’ Movie Digital Access Leaves Some Fans Screaming Foul15 Mar, 2014 By: Erik Gruenwedel
Cloud-based UltraViolet movie locker gets black eye when many users can’t access film. Warner Bros. says it will issue refunds to affected Kickstarter backers
The much-awaited March 14 release of the Veronica Mars movie left some fans of the former eponymous TV show it was based on in the dark and upset.
The film adaptation, which features most of the original cast, including lead Kristen Bell, was funded by more than 91,000 backers who pledged a record $5.7 million in 30 days a year ago through a Kickstarter.com campaign launched by "Mars" creator Rob Thomas.
Backers in North America, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Ireland pledging at least $35 were promised a Digital HD version of the Mars movie, while supporters contributing $50 were also promised a Blu-ray Disc/DVD packaged media combo available later this year. Those digital versions were made available as UltraViolet copies redeemable through Flixster.com, though playable on other UV platforms.
Flixster is owned by Warner Bros., which also distributed Mars in about 290 theaters in select markets. The movie generated an estimated $2 million ticket sales, according to BoxOfficeMojo.com.
Problems arose online when Kickstarter backers — not familiar with UltraViolet — found themselves limited to accessing Mars on Flixster, required to register an UltraViolet account, and then unable to stream the movie.
Consumers purchasing or renting Mars (from $5.99 to $16) at iTunes or Amazon Instant Video, which are not UV compatible, in addition to UV-capable Vudu and CinemaNow, among other services, experienced fewer problems.
“My first and last time using Flixster or Ultraviolet,” Jennifer Gottried fumed on the Mars Kickstarter page.
“I am very disappointed with the so-called digital download,” James Stith wrote. “It should not require a dozen extra steps and another annoying program to watch. Nor should it involve a ‘cloud.’ Total Fail.”
“I want my money back for the digital download that I CAN’T DOWNLOAD!,” added Jeff.
There were also happy crowdsourcing fans of Mars.
"Loved it! Great work Rob, Kristen, and team! I would say I'm happy to get closure, but I'm hoping this isn't the end! Thanks for a great film. Happy to have been a part of this," wrote Evan Rook.
Indeed, RottenTomatoes.com gave Mars a 76% approval rating from critics; 97% by users.
Creator Thomas, in an online statement, apologized for the snafus, but reiterated that digital access to Mars for Kickstarter backers had always been earmarked for Flixster.
“I also know that many of you use iTunes, Amazon or other platforms, and would prefer to claim your digital copies on your favorite service, so we hoped we'd also be able to arrange for more options,” Thomas wrote. “Unfortunately, it just wasn't possible. In the end, Flixster was the best option for getting the digital movie reward out to all of you, worldwide, at the same time.”
Warner said it would issue refunds to Kickstarter backers who bought the movie elsewhere.
"We are, of course, working diligently to ensure that all the Veronica Mars backers have a great experience," a studio representative said in a statement.