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You did it: you brought back MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000! Thanks to you, MST3K shot FOURTEEN NEW EPISODES in 2016, including a new holiday special, and returned in 2017 on Netflix!
You did it: you brought back MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000! Thanks to you, MST3K shot FOURTEEN NEW EPISODES in 2016, including a new holiday special, and returned in 2017 on Netflix!
48,270 backers pledged $5,764,229 to help bring this project to life.

Pledge Drive Update: Why MST3K is Still Fundraising. PLUS: Price Drops, New Reward Bundles + Region-Free Box Sets!

Posted by Joel Hodgson (Creator)

Dear MST3K Revival League,

Yeah, it's Joel again. I hope you had a nice weekend.

First, I wanted to give you a quick update on how things have been going, since there's still so much going on around here.


I'm happy to report that SEASON 12 is still on schedule, and we're working through post-production. Also, I know I keep saying this, but man: the episodes are just coming out so great. I'm really pleased, and want to give a big thanks to all of the post-production folks at Abominable Pictures who are doing such a wonderful job.

I'm also happy to tell you that the MST3K COMIC enjoyed a great reception at San Diego Comic Con last week, as well as right here online! Your feedback has been really helpful, so thanks to everyone who took the time to read the free preview, and to share their thoughts on our newest media experiment.

And, of course, preparations for the MST3K LIVE: 30TH ANNIVERSARY TOUR are still coming along. Our writing team here at Alternaversal has been working through the movies, and for those of you planning to join us, I want you to know that we're taking special care to make sure that Deathstalker (now actually Deathstalker 2) will be "family friendly" in the same way the TV show is.

In fact, you can learn more about that right here.

Now, with all of that out of the way, I wanted to take a little more time to answer some of the questions about the SEASON 12 PLEDGE DRIVE that we've been running, and to share a few big changes we've decided to make, based on your feedback.


When we first announced the pledge drive, I explained how the most important reason we wanted to do this was because so many of you asked for it, and because we loved having you so involved and connected to the whole process of making the show.

Over the last few weeks, though, we've heard from some of you who wanted to know:

"Why do we need to raise more funds, if Mystery Science Theater 3000 already has a home on Netflix?"

We've also heard from a few people who would like to know:

"How is Mystery Science Theater going to use the funds from this pledge drive? Do we really need them?"

And you know, those are good questions, so I want to take some time to answer them more clearly. To tell you the truth, I actually thought about answering them a few weeks ago, when we first launched the pledge drive – but I wondered if it was too "inside baseball."

But, since some of you are curious, I think it's worth sharing some more details, so that you'll understand why this pledge drive is necessary, and why your pledges still matter.

Here's one thing that a lot of people don't know:

Platforms and networks these days typically don’t pay 100% of the production budget for a show.

That's because they expect that the show will also get some of the funding it needs in additional ways, such as being licensed to other partners including networks in other countries.

So, for example, when you watch an episode of Doctor Who, part of the budget comes from the BBC in the UK… but some also comes from BBC America, and some more comes from each of the networks in other countries that want to run the show. It’s also translated into a bunch of other languages, including French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Chinese, Russian, and, toughest of all, Canadian.

I could go on and on, but basically Doctor Who is viewed in over 200 countries around the world… and each of those is another place they can get more money to cover the costs of production.

Now, for most shows, international distribution is pretty simple, and is an important part of covering the show's production budget.

But here's the thing: We’ve discovered that that’s a much harder job with Mystery Science Theater 3000. In fact, it's near impossible, because to release our show worldwide, we’d have to get the legal rights to use the movies we're riffing in each country where our show is available, and we’d have to pay more for each country where we’d like to offer the show… if the rights to the movie were even available!

And, even if all of the movies were available in all regions and we could afford to license them, there's another challenge: on an aesthetic level, how do you maintain the comedy of MST3K when you have to first re-dub a film, and then translate 600 riffs from English into another language to see if they still are funny?

Also, how much more would it cost for each language you’d need to dub and translate into?

How do you manage that process and decide if the show is good enough in translation? And what if it's not, and you've already spent a lot of money just to find that out?

Just trying to think about it will make you cuckoo!

Simply put:

To cover the remaining costs of producing Season 12, we figured out that we'd need about $600,000 more than we had. That's a lot less than we needed to raise to #BringBackMST3K, but it's still a lot more than we have sitting around!

Now, the good news is that, so far, the Pledge Drive has brought in almost $300,000, after the costs of making and sending out your rewards – so for those of you who have pledged, I can't thank you enough. I'm really excited about the rewards we've got planned this time around, and I'm glad we'll be able to give you some great gifts to thank you for your support.

But, yeah: this is reality, Greg. And the fact is...

We still need to raise another $300,000, just to avoid losing money on season 12.

So, now that we've had some time to read your comments and questions, and to think about your feedback, we've decided to make a few adjustments to the Season 12 Pledge Drive.


First: we're changing things around so that all rewards now include the basic MST3K Revival League Digital Membership kit, which used to be a $15 pledge by itself. If that's the only thing you want, you can still get it by itself… but we thought it should also be included with every pledge. So yeah, now it is.

For anyone who ALREADY pledged $15 for the DIGITAL MEMBERSHIP KIT, please don't worry: we want to make sure we take care of you! If you want to upgrade your pledge to get something else, you can! Just go make a new pledge, and make sure to use the same email address. Then, once you've made another pledge that includes the MEMBERSHIP KIT – or if you already did – just send an email to and let us know. Once the pledge drive ends, on August 17th, we'll start processing refunds for all duplicate pledges!

We've worked through some details with the manufacturers, and I'm happy to report that the Season 12: Collector's Box Set will now be region-free. For our friends outside of North America, that means that the DVD and Blu-ray discs will be playable in all players, with no region encoding issues to worry about. And, of course, it will still include an exclusive disc of bonus materials and behind-the-scenes content that won't be available anywhere else.

It also turns out that a lot of you miss the "pledge packages" from the original Kickstarter, which let us give you a little bit more for your pledge. We thought it was better to let you get just the items you wanted this time, but – as a lot of you have pointed out – that also makes the individual items more expensive, because each reward costs less to make if more people get it.

So, starting now, we're adding THREE NEW PLEDGE BUNDLES:

THE DIGITAL BUNDLE ($100), which includes: 

  • The DIGITAL DOWNLOAD of Season 12 ($50) 
  • Your NAME IN THE CREDITS of an episode ($75) 
  • $15 off any order of $100+ at the store ($15) 
  • So, you get $155 of rewards for $100, and you save $55!

THE SWAG BUNDLE ($150), which includes: 

  • The SEASON 12 T-SHIRT ($35) 
  • The SEASON 12 TOTE BAG ($30) 
  • The SEASON 12 POSTER ($50) 
  • The SEASON 12 BOX SET ($70) 
  • $15 off any order of $100+ at the store ($15) 
  • So, you get $215 of rewards for $150, and you save $65!

THE COMPLETE BUNDLE ($225), which includes: 

  • Everything in BOTH bundles above! 
  • $15 off two orders of $100+ at the store ($30) 
  • So, you get $355 of rewards for $225, and you save $130!

And again, for anyone who ALREADY pledged for rewards included in these bundles, please don't worry: we want to make sure we take care of you! If you want to upgrade your pledge to get a full bundle, we don't want you to pay twice. Just go make a new pledge, and make sure to use the same email address as before. Then, once you've pledged for a bundle that includes ANY REWARD you already claimed, just send an email to and let us know. Once the pledge drive ends, on August 17th, we'll start processing refunds for all duplicate pledges!

So, yeah: we've tried to make all of the pledge rewards a little bit better, so that you know you're getting more for your pledge when you support Season 12… but keep letting us know if you have suggestions or requests!

And, now that you have a better idea of why we need to raise more funds for Season 12, I hope you'll consider making a pledge and staying involved with the Revival League for another year.

Cheers & Thanks,


D-Boy, LeighAnne Winicaties, and 103 more people like this update.


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    1. Jennifer Stine on

      Do you have to translate into every form of Chinese, or do you just decide Mandarin (or something else) is enough? How do you know if something is culturally way too inappropriate in other countries? Joe Don Baker is in all countries, but things that seem small can be a big deal. The simple act of giving flowers is only acceptable for funerals in Korea. Any other time is not cool. Nice thing to know when determining if something should stay or go. My mum had a boss from Korea. She was only given living plants as gifts. Dial "mom" on a phone it's 666, "mum" 686. Fyi

    2. jt4703 on

      @ Christine: Looks like you CAN still pledge, at least it still let me add things to my cart.

    3. Christine Herholz on

      I'm sorry I missed the deadline. Like jt4703 below, I'd happily be a slacker-pledger. I just plain forgot!

    4. jt4703 on

      What's the countdown? Does this end at midnight PDT? How much more was raised since the midpoint? Will there be any last-minute additions? What about a slacker-pledger option for those of us who forgot and expected an email reminder or like me realized oh no it's today but payday is next week... So many questions

    5. Russell William Hale on

      Hey Joel how are we doing? is the show good or have we not hit the magic number, also I would have liked a Bundle of DVD, Digital Download and Credits, anyways take care

    6. Michael Gonzales on

      Mr. Joel, we're about a week away from this Pledge Drive ending. We miss watching the dollar amount creep closer and closer to the goal. How ARE we doing?

      Torgo if you please, show us the current amount on that tot-board!

    7. Michael Gilstrap on

      @Armor10 --- you keep the same number no matter what

    8. Armor10 on

      With The REVIVAL LEAGUE DIGITAL MEMBERSHIP KIT. Will we be able to keep our Original Membership #?

    9. Ted Watts on

      Operators are standing by to help you become an unsecured creditor now so the people who own the rights to the show don't have to wait to recoup their investment!

    10. Missing avatar

      Mike Truman on

      Ok, count me in.

    11. Michael Gonzales on

      Thanks for explaining the realities of the biz, Mr. Joel, I had no idea.
      Best of luck on the pledge drive. I'm in for the complete bundle and very happy about it.
      My Christmas gift list is now complete. "Here you go Grandma, an MST3k T-shirt! Never mind who they are, Merry Christmas!" :)

    12. Scott Bishop

      It might be just me but is anyone else having trouble buying the blu ray boxset?
      I've tried different browsers and it's not accepted each time.

    13. Iron Curtain (Chiptunes) on

      Ryan Barnhart: It was super low budget in the beginning, but not at Season 10 when it ended. Season 11 is where it would've ended up anyway. Also, if Shout! and Alternaversal spent $0 on licensing, they would spend NO money on movies. NONE. And that would piss off fans of the show even more.

      Sorry, but those are bad ideas. Besides, if you went to the "Watch out for Snakes!" you'd probably agree that that was the direction the show should go to.

    14. Ryan Barnhart on

      My enthusiasm for this drive is pretty low. The beauty of the show originally was it was super low budget and they were essentially free to do what they wanted. Do any of us really care if the movies being riffed are 16:9 aspect ratio and in HD? Personally I think that if this current retooling of the show doesn't fly that MST3K get back to it's roots. Spend zero dollars on licensing and focus on the silly skits and jokes. Maybe the right home for MST3K will turn out to be YouTube.

    15. Michael Gilstrap on

      I'd like just a bluray / digital episode combo ... not worried about the revival league membership

    16. David Mello on

      I agree they may have to change the price of the swag bundle only because of the price of the poster. It should be two different prices; $135 for the bundle with the small poster or $150 for the bundle with the large poster. Hopefully the administrators should keep that in mind, or just offer the $150 price with the large poster only.
      Aside from that, it's a good deal

    17. Adam Buccilli on

      I'm like quite a few others (and I haven't really spoken up at all so this is something for me), but I'd feel like there should be a digital/dvd/blu-ray bundle, or more over, the DVD/blu-ray bundle should include the digital since we'd be owning the episodes already but some of us just have it physically for material purposes and like have our episodes stored digitally so we can take them places without risk of damage or having to pack it carefully, you know?

      thank you, won't you?

    18. Missing avatar

      JAMES WEBB on

      ‪The swag bundle is nice but would be better if it was $65 off instead of fixed at $150 total cost. Anyone that picks the small poster and the DVD set only saves $40 or 21% compared to 30% if they get the large poster and Blu-Ray set‬

    19. Johnny W on

      It's a shame that this is the state MST3K is in. It seems clear that Season 12's changes are being done in an attempt to bring the show to a wider audience... and so to get Netflix to foot the whole bill next time. I really hope it works!

      Otherwise... I don't know what's going to happen :-/

    20. Johnny W on

      @ErnDarnpath Joel isn't asking for money in order to "buy" international licensing or translations. I think you misread the post?

    21. Ern Darnpath on

      So as the show runner you have no need to give us any details, of course, but then we have no need to give you more money, other than goal #1 - make sure MST3K has a future.
      I don’t ever want to exclude fans from a thing I love, but I would prioritize spending money on making sure there would be a Season 13 (or 12 part B or whatever), than I would on international licensing (or even translation, which I suspect is a much smaller piece of the pie.)

    22. Missing avatar

      Nicholas Pranger on

      I'll be honest, when I saw the word bundle in the update title my only thought was "I hope they do a Bluray/Digital bundle."

    23. Iron Curtain (Chiptunes) on

      BTW, I discovered that the digital episodes are DRM-free. Huzzah!

    24. Wendell on

      I suspected that was the case and it looks like Joel confirmed it. While MST3K is cheaper to make than the average show, there are drawbacks.

    25. Missing avatar

      sauron3236 on

      I love the bundles idea. What about one that is just the bluray/dvd and digital copies?

    26. Iron Curtain (Chiptunes) on

      Also, Melody raised VERY good points. Let's suppose this pledge drive fails. Will you find other ways to fund the show?

    27. Iron Curtain (Chiptunes) on

      The digital downloads will be DRM-free, will they?

    28. Justin Corwin on

      Melody Fohr:

      We all believe in Joel's vision of MST3K being around for a lot more seasons.. if netflix can't/won't make that happen then there are other ways to do it. If Joel throws in the towel Shout Factory still owns the rights and hopefully will continue on in some form (perhaps Jonah would start a production company). Joe Bob's triumphant return this month shows me that the future is bright for lovers of B Movies and Netflix is not the only game in town.

    29. Missing avatar

      David Scudder on

      Melody Fohr You're not alone. The idea that the show can't pay it's own way is depressing. I wonder about costs, specifically licensing these exclusively color widescreen movies.

    30. Larry Lee Moniz on

      Very glad you explained everything Joel. I am actually even happier I have again contributed to the pledge drive. My favorite show is definitely a worthy cause! Thank you.

    31. David Mello on

      Just read Melody's post, and if the revival doesn't last as long as we had hoped, at least Joel should tie up all loose ends if the end is near. Seeing Kinga being forced to apologize in the end (but still telling Max he's not her type and she shouldn't be his) would be worth it.
      It would be preferable if this happens five years from now rather than six months from now, but let's hope for the best.

    32. Melody Fohr on

      Well, it took two months, but at least we finally got an answer about what the money is for. Why couldn't this information have been included in the first update about the fund drive, or the one when it finally kicked off?

      $100,000 per episode is about the amount of funding it took in Season 11 to finish the episodes without going into debt, over and above the Kickstarter funds raised. That time it was the Netflix licensing deal that provided the money. (Source: Time code 19:30)

      Joel - "And so I think the show was easily more expensive, and so the Netflix license helped us pay for it, so we didn’t go in debt, paying for it. So the backers paid for about two-thirds of it, and the Netflix license paid for a third of it. This next season [Season 12], it would be a Netflix licensing it completely, so they would come in and pay the full amount."

      Obviously, that's not what happened, for whatever behind the scenes reasons we're not privy to. The question is out there now, though: Is it feasible to keep MST3K in production if it can't break even without crowdfunding every season? Are there enough fans willing to pay in essence twice or even three times for the same episodes (crowdfunding/pledge drive/donations then Netflix subscription and then DVD or digital ownership if they didn't donate at a high enough level) for however many seasons there might be? In the original campaign one of the goals was to prove to a network that there were enough fans to watch the show, who were interested enough to pay to support MST3K, that picking it up and funding the costs of production would be worth it in terms of prestige and revenue to the network.

      I know Netflix is having issues of their own, too, but seriously they wouldn't come up with a drop in the bucket for them of a half a million dollars to finish MST3K when they regularly spend $3 or $4 *an episode* for their popular shows? That's troubling, and it certainly doesn't make me think there's a lot of support from Netflix, especially if the upcoming season doesn't meet the goals they've set for it in terms of viewership and demographics.

      In short, I'm really, really worried about the future of MST3K as a television show. Before you ignore me or tell me I just want to hate, remember that I'm posting here because I believed enough in Joel's vision to donate to the Kickstarter, the same as all of you. I want to believe. I want there to be more MST3K in the future, so more people can discover and share something that's brought so much joy to so many. But I also can't ignore the evidence in front of my face just because of my feelings.

    33. Justin Corwin on

      We need updated Patches! ALSO host release viewing parties like last time.

    34. Dave B on

      Does this mean you'll need a pledge drive to raise $600K EVERY SEASON in order to break even?

    35. Steven Marsh on

      Can someone with power at MST3K =please= help me figure out if I've already ordered a Coffee Table Book? So far, I've tried emailing via BackerKit (July 13 — automated response: "We just wanted to confirm that we DID get your message. We'll get back to you as soon as we can, and in the meantime, we're grateful for your patience.") and via (July 20 — "We'll do our best to get back to you within the next business day."), but no response.

      I can't figure out if my $71.50 receipt on August 11, 2017 is for the Coffee Table Book or something else. (That's between the June 27, 2017 "Your LAST CHANCE to Grab Add-On Rewards!" update and the August 26, 2017 "Last Call for Add-Ons" update.) BackerKit is showing my order as "Partially Shipped," which makes me hopeful that there's still an outstanding part of the order waiting for me (the Coffee Table Book is the only thing that makes sense), but BackerKit =also= doesn't say what part(s) of my order are still outstanding.

      Alternatively, if anyone else who ISN'T with MST3K ordered just a Coffee Table Book around the same time period as an add-on and had a similar charge ($71.50), I'd be grateful if you could confirm your experience, since that might be about the closest as I'm going to get to a confirmation.

    36. Brian Jennings on

      Any possibility you can bring back the benefit of getting VHX access to all MST3K episodes? I didn't get it last time it was discounted. Wish I had.

    37. Missing avatar

      Ralph LeVan on

      Thanks! Having the story behind the drive is helpful. You've made a sale!

    38. Deana Dolphin on

      THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THE UPDATE!! And thank you for listening to the fans questions and concerns and addressing them. There is no other show in the world where the creator would ask the input of fans and actually follow through. Thank you Joel and everyone on the MST3K Team!! MST3K Forever!!!

    39. Bret Wheadon on

      As always - Joel is DA MAN! I think you underestimate just how much your fandom LOVES behind the scenes facts like what you just gave us! I, for one, am always fascinated by the "BIZ" of showbiz, and to understand just how much money it takes to produce a season, and why and how and nuts and bolts is just really interesting to me, personally. And for YOU to 'get that' and actually put it all out there is why this project totally, totally rocks. You listen, you respond. That's just sooooooo ... well, it's humanity at its finest. Way to be, Joel. <3

    40. Jeremie Lariviere

      i appreciate the details, thanks