Spike Lee’s Kickstarter is the latest celebrity crowdfunding project to come under fire, after the director turned to the service despite his decades-long successful career. First, Lee was accused of not being clear enough with details about the project's script—key information to withhold from an audience, but necessary to share when looking for potential investors. Then he was called out for only offering rewards that amounted to overly expensive pairs of used sneakers. Then, after he went back and added new donor levels, better rewards (including memorabilia from his past films), and provided videos that explained more about the project, he was criticized for only including one female co-director.
And even now that the campaign has ended successfully, with Lee’s project raising over $1.4 million, the project remains under scrutiny, with people poking around in the data to figure out how the numbers shook out. Veronica Mars site Mars Investigations has a handy chart comparing the donation data of the top film projects in Kickstarter’s history, including the Veronica Mars film, projects from Lee and Zach Braff, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, and others. And once the numbers are stacked up against each other, one thing becomes very clear: That Spike Lee is an outlier when compared to the rest of the big-money Kickstarter film projects.
It's already known that Steven Soderbergh publicly ponied up $10,000 to Lee’s project—and for the typical Kickstarter campaign, that level would be an anomaly. But the newest Spike Lee joint has a disproportionate amount of other high-level donors. As The Bitter Script Reader points out, only about 9 percent of donors put up nearly 70 percent of the funding for Lee’s film. Veronica Mars will have studio support and distribution, and Braff sought funding from multiple channels in addition to Kickstarter. But it appears Lee’s film will go into production thanks to circumstances similar to those that allowed him to complete Malcolm X—i.e. being saved by a handful of wealthy individuals—rather than thanks to the grassroots effort a Kickstarter campaign implies.