For more than 30 years, the award-winning comedy television series Mystery Science Theater 3000™ has been known as one of the best cult TV shows in history. The story of human hosts and their robot sidekicks trapped aboard a satellite and forced to watch cheesy movies by their captors, MST3K™ has maintained its reputation thanks largely to its devoted fan base, known as MSTies. In 2017 the show returned after an 18-year hiatus thanks to a record-breaking Kickstarter campaign, enjoying two critically acclaimed seasons on Netflix, as well as a sold-out series of live national tours. However, there isn’t currently a home for new MST3K™ episodes, something that series creator Joel Hodgson is hoping to change with today’s launch of this Kickstarter campaign.
“A year in quarantine gave us a lot of time to think, and we realized two important things. First, nobody’s virtual Zoom background is as amusing as they think it is. And second, that Mystery Science Theater 3000 is back because it’s what the fans wanted. So, you know, it doesn’t make sense for a network to decide the show’s fate after each season. That should be up to the people we’re making the show for. We want our fans to decide how long we keep going, and how many new episodes we make each year.”
Through Kickstarter, Hodgson has an initial goal of $2 million, which will fund three new episodes, as well as the development of “The Gizmoplex,” a new “online theater” where Hodgson and his team can host live episode premieres, real-time watch parties and special live events year-round.
After the initial goal is met, fan interest will determine how much farther the next season goes. At $3.3 million, the next season will expand to six new episodes, and the release of new apps that let fans visit the Gizmoplex using mobile and OTT devices. At $4.4 million, the season will grow to nine episodes, and at $5.5 million, a full season of 12 new feature-length episodes. If the top goal is reached, the team will also be able to riff 12 new short films, a favorite tradition amongst long-time MST3K fans.
If Mystery Science Theater 3000 succeeds in adopting a direct-to-fan distribution model, it will also allow Hodgson to honor one of the most common requests he hears from fans: releasing each new episode directly to fans as it is finished, rather than holding them until the entire season is complete. “Back in the day, each new episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 was kind of an event to look forward to, and you could discover it with your family or friends,” Hodgson notes. “So, we’re pretty excited by the idea that each new episode can become this kind of ‘communal event’ again. Also, we’ve got a lot of fun ideas to make our virtual theater, The Gizmoplex, feel different from any other place you can watch MST3K online.”
With a fresh batch of cheesy movies to riff, Hodgson will be involved in all facets of the production of the new episodes. While a cast has not yet been announced, Hodgson confirms that all major cast members from Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return and Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Gauntlet will be involved in the new episodes.