Believe me, man. I hear you. If it really cost $2 million just to make three episodes, we'd be spending almost $700K per show! And you're right: by itself, an episode of MST3K doesn't cost nearly that much.
It's actually about $250K an episode, once we're up and running.
The explanation is pretty simple.
1. We don't get to keep all of the money we raise on Kickstarter!
Out of the first $2,000,000, we have to pay about 8% – that's $160,000 – in fees to Kickstarter and the credit card processor.
REWARD & SHIPPING COSTS
Then, we have to design, produce, print, sort and ship all of the rewards we're offering in exchange for your pledge. (Those t-shirts aren't free, you know!) That costs about 27%, so that's another $540,000.
(We're not charging you twice for shipping, I promise. Even though Kickstarter asks you to add more for shipping, they count that money toward the total we've raised, even though we still have to spend it on, you know… shipping!)
So, out of the first $2,000,000 we raise, we have to spend $700,000 just on the costs of this Kickstarter campaign!
2. Then, we have to spend a lot on startup costs just to get the show going.
To shoot new episodes, there's a lot we'll need to do: creating concept art and designs, building sets, making models, creating costumes, adding new features to upgrade the robots, and all sorts of other things. All of that work costs money, which is why our first $2,000,000 includes $550,000 for startup costs. The good part is that every penny of that ends up on screen where you can see it.
3. But... the more episodes we make, the less each episode costs!
We have to spend the same amount up front, no matter how many episodes we make. If we only make 3 episodes, these costs increase the budget for each episode by $183K… but if we make a full 12, they only increase it by $46K each!
Anyway, once you take out the CAMPAIGN, REWARD and STARTUP COSTS, there's a lot less than $2,000,000 left. In fact, that leaves just $750K for three episodes, which – I hope – sounds a lot more reasonable than $2,000,000!
At the end of the day, our goal is to make each episode for around $250K.
To put that in perspective, that means we're spending less to create 90 minutes of MST3K than even the low-end reality shows spend to make 22 minutes! (Really makes ya think, don't it?)
Now, if you're as tired of reading as I am of writing, here are some wicked cool graphics that explain all of this:
I know not everyone will want this much explanation, but if I'm asking you to trust me with your money, I think it's important to be crystal clear about how we're using it.
Plus, $750K for each set of three episodes feels a lot better than $2,000,000.
(But man, I'd hate to try to sell a car to you people. Tough crowd!)
Check out Update #6.
Good catch, math maven!
The simple answer is that the EXACT amount we need for each set of 3 episodes is more like $1,166,666.66. It's much easier to have goals that are easy to remember... so we rounded them off to $1.1M for each set of three, and added the extra amount to the first set.