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July 11 2008

Variety report on the Dr. Horrible press screening. Cynthia Littleton gives the lowdown of what happened last night. Joss and all the actors were in attendance. Want more details? The Hollywood Reporter has a fab report as does iFMagazine and there's a great write-up from a fellow Whedonesque poster.

Unrelated to the sneak peek for press, but Horrible gets pimped in today's edition of The Oregonian. (Warning: Ghastly formatting in the online version.)
I've added a HR report to the entry as well.
Home studio and soundstages? That's some house Joss has got. Sounds absolutely amazing. Excited as ever.

And yes, there will be "Dr. Horrible" shirts for sale there.

Yay!
And yes, there will be "Dr. Horrible" shirts for sale there.

But where!??!!?!?! Dark Horse? California Browncoats?

I've got no news on this front yet.
re: t-shirts. He didn't say where or when, but he seemed awfully excited about them.
T-Shirts, Soundtrack, so much joy, and I'm trying to contain an annoying and kinda girli-ish squee...

[ edited by Numfar PTB on 2008-07-11 09:40 ]
In regards to the DVD release, does anyone know if it is going to be released in Region 2 format or just Region 1 (or if we are lucky will it be region neutral)?
Yay, only four more days 'til we get first yummy portion of horrible goodness. Very jealous of you, Kat, for being in the same room as all those good looking, talented people. Thanks for the report. Can't wait! Let there be blogging, singing, and streaming, like...nowish!
I've added a link to an iFMagazine report as well. There are two servers! (for some reason I'm picturing Joss saying this a la Picard's 'Four Lights').
This is so very merry.

Are the people who worked on it getting a percentage of the on- and off-line revenue? I'm hoping that's what it means by more generous compensation than the guild contracts provide. Because Whedon Bros & the Great Unrhymable would not forget where they (and this project) came from. (ETA: The iFMagazine article almost answers this question.)

May the Horriverse grow and spread like the white stuff that wiped out Earth Two (and sundry Earths).

[ edited by Pointy on 2008-07-11 14:06 ]
Are the people who worked on it getting a percentage of the on- and off-line revenue?

Sorry, but don't know where else to post the news that the SAG talks have broken off again, with no more planned. The above quote is of course about what they're trying to get, with no success yet.


[ edited by wytchcroft on 2008-07-16 18:09 ]
from T.K. Dehn's iFMagazine coverage:

"What happens if this actually shows a profit?

JOSS WHEDON: There will be profit-sharing [among the creators and the actors]."


(although he did also mention that they are - naturally - having to wait and see if this "business model" is actually a business model.)

Cynthia Littleton reported on her Variety blog:

"...and Joss was committed to offering even more generous residual terms for the talent, in success, than they would receive under guild contracts."

'You don't make a statement about what we can accomplish as a community...by screwing people over,' Joss said."


Apropos of not this, if I don't see a Doc Horrible Doc Horrible logo soon, I may plotz.

(Thanks, Kat, for your report - for sharing the love with the rest of us... Horribles?)
Profit-sharing isn't revenue-sharing. Profit is smaller than revenue. Under revenue-sharing, you get paid if anyone buys the video. Under profit-sharing, you get paid only after the expenses of creating the video are fully recovered, which means you might not get paid at all. That's why I'm hoping there'll be revenue-sharing.
"If this is just my mid-life crisis -- it's the most awesome one imaginable," he said, with feeling.

I'm not complaining, since I've thoroughly enjoyed all of the projects I recall Joss labeling as his mid-life crisis, but how long can a mid-life crisis actually last? His seems to be a marathon.
John Cassaday, Astonishing X-Men artist and astonishing X-Men artist, has also co-created and directed a web series.
From iFMagazine:

Would you ever allow midnight sin-galong [sic] screenings?

JOSS WHEDON: Never. I forbid it on penalty of awesomeness.

also from iF:


Ms. Day, you wrote and star in an award-winning Internet comedy series, THE GUILD. Will that have a Comic-Con presence?

FELICIA DAY: We’ll be at the Browncoats booth for two hours every day with DVDs.


Felicia is awesome.

The Guild DVDs will be there all the time, the Guild cast will be there limited times.
And along with everything else, sin! Yay. I'm all for sin. Especially if it involves Joss Whedon, Nathan Fillion and Neal Patrick Harris. Not so sure of the galong part. Apparently there's a Galong in Australia. Does this mean we have to go to Australia to join in the sinning?

[ edited by barboo on 2008-07-11 18:28 ]
Pointy, I think that profit sharing has gotten a bad rap because of the fuzzy math used by studios (where none of the James Bond films, or LotR, or any block buster films ever make any profit!). But in reality Joss has to pay back the "low six figures" he paid out of pocket to make this, and then split every dime over and above that. He isn't going to cheat anyone, but he isn't some huge corporation that can take a loss like that and just write it off either.

Having said that, I know that you can make some serious money with T-shirts. When I was working at Ford's Theatre in Washington, DC I was shocked to learn that we could end up making almost as much through t-shirt sales as from ticket sales!
It's a matter of choice, not necessity. No law prevents independent producers from repaying the crew for the time and labor they put into a project before repaying themselves for their investment of money. That's why I'm hoping they're sharing revenue instead of profits. Everyone involved took a risk that they won't be compensated for the investments of time, labor and opportunity costs they made, and it is not carved in stone that one kind of investment must be completely recouped before the other kinds. If it is, we get a new stone.
JOSS WHEDON: Yes, I see more comic books. Zack [Whedon, who writes them – the first one is online at drhorrible.com] is having too much fun with them.

I totally missed this before. The first one.
Pointy said: Profit-sharing isn't revenue-sharing. Profit is smaller than revenue. Under revenue-sharing, you get paid if anyone buys the video. Under profit-sharing, you get paid only after the expenses of creating the video are fully recovered, which means you might not get paid at all. That's why I'm hoping there'll be revenue-sharing.

Revenue sharing is nice, but it's only justifiable where it goes along with risk sharing. For discussion purposes, say that Joss ponied up $100K of cash from his own bank account to make the movie, it's hard to argue that actors and crew members whose contribution was limited to six days on the set should get cash back out of the revenues before Joss gets fully repaid. And yes, I know that there is value associated with time and sweat equity, but it would be hard to argue that the time and sweat equity of the crew was as much of or more than the creators.
I'm so glad I decided to blow all of my frequent flyer miles to spend just one day at Comic Con! And so glad Friday is Dr. Horrible Day.

Now to convince my 10 year old that he has to see Dr. Horrible on the big screen. At midnight. After a late night flight to LA. And the train ride down to San Diego. Just to get back on the train right away.

Thank goodness there will be lots of goodies to bribe him with.
Pointy said: It's a matter of choice, not necessity. No law prevents independent producers from repaying the crew for the time and labor they put into a project before repaying themselves for their investment of money. That's why I'm hoping they're sharing revenue instead of profits. Everyone involved took a risk that they won't be compensated for the investments of time, labor and opportunity costs they made, and it is not carved in stone that one kind of investment must be completely recouped before the other kinds. If it is, we get a new stone.

As someone who makes a living structuring and negotiating deals with a focus on the allocation of risks and rewards, I wish you the best of luck in finding someone who will put up significant amounts of money in that sort of arrangment. If you do, please send them my way, because I would love to be doing business with them. It's a nice idea, but it's a little too far detached from reality to serve as a basis of a new business model.

[ edited by BrewBunny on 2008-07-11 19:44 ]
There are different kinds of risks. Does someone who has, for example, $10,000 to risk in a venture that may or may not succeed need that money as much as a member of the crew needs a week's wages to pay the bills?
Are you of the view that people with $10,000 cash in their accounts (or $10,000 available credit on one of their credit cards, as is often the case) don't have bills of their own to pay too? And why do you automatically assume that those on the crew don't have their own sort of financial cushion that made them comfortable with working for six days without payment up front? Not to mention that if they weren't giving up the opportunity to do paying work (which was the case during the strike), they haven't given up much of anything (i.e., they haven't put anything at risk).

[ edited by BrewBunny on 2008-07-11 19:50 ]
Let's also keep in mind that clearly the cast and crew are perfectly fine with whatever the deal with them is, else they would not have signed up for this purely optional endeavor. I really don't think we need to try to speak for their interests as if they somehow might have been incapable of speaking for their own themselves.

[ edited by theonetruebix on 2008-07-11 19:53 ]
I referred to "someone who has, for example, $10,000 to risk in a venture that may or may not succeed," not just anyone who has $10,000 in an account. I hope the distinction is not lost a second time.

I also did not assume that the crew could not afford to take a week off to work on this film, since they did. I am assuming that they could have spent the week making money somehow, since anyone who works is clearly capable of work, so, yes, there is an opportunity cost.

Also, there is no assuming that the crew "somehow might have been incapable of speaking for their own themselves." As I stated more than once, I hope that they got revenue-sharing. I'm not assuming that they didn't.

A few assumptions, however, might be in play here: The assumption that an investment of money deserves to be recouped before an investment of time and labor, the assumption that any other arrangement requires a special justification, and the assumption that because people in Hollywood are willing to work for free they are "perfectly fine with whatever the deal with them is." Joss, for example, is willing to work for free on this because he is not fine with the deal in Hollywood.
Deadbessie I love your name, and I'm sure if you hype you darling child up with enough sugar and caffeine he'll be up for anything! LOL
I'm sure you'll have an awesome time, I'm very jealous (and I hope you'll post photos and experiences online so we can vicariously share your fun)!
Pointy, you will find less and less people willing to make any sort of investment into any sort of risky scheme if the investment is not paid first. Not very many people invest "low six figures" in order to be all altruistic. Risk equals reward and the risk is measurable in dollars.
You will find that the law often favors wage earners over investors in, for example, bankruptcy laws, some of which require companies that go under to pay their employees wages for work done before they have to pay off their creditors. This is a risk measurable in dollars, but it does not assume that dollars invested in an enterprise deserve to be repaid before hours of labor invested in an enterprise.

Are you all assuming that Joss is insisting that his financial investment be paid back before his crew gets paid?
Pointy, When talking about "revenue sharing" that you'd like to see, it would be useful for you to clarify whether you think that actors/crew should be entitled to is just the cost of their unpaid daily wages, which is the monetized value of their up-front investment for purposes of comparison to an up-front cash investment, or if you mean something above and beyond that, or what money-grubbing f***ers like me refer to a "upside." While it's not uncommon for deals to be structured in a way that everyone who invests something (whether cash or sweat equity) gets dibs on a portion of the initial revenues, it's far rarer to see someone start getting upside before everyone has been paid back.
None of us are assuming anything, Pointy, since that would be stupid. We don't know any of the details. Speculation is another fish entirely.
Pointy said: "You will find that the law often favors wage earners over investors in, for example, bankruptcy laws, some of which require companies that go under to pay their employees wages for work done before they have to pay off their creditors."

While it may be the case that Section 507 of the bankruptcy code gives priority to a limited amount of employee wage claims over other general unsecured claims in a distribution out of a bankruptcy case, those claims do not leapfrog over claims to be paid out of collateral backing up secured obligations. And in any event, that's only what happens when a company goes into bankruptcy - it doesn't determine how investors will be willing to contribute their own money on a voluntary basis.
And, for the record, I don't believe that any of us actually know whose "six figures" was required to get this project off the ground. Could have been Joss, could have been him and his brothers, could have been someone unrelated with a lot of cash and a love for musical superhero stories.

Or maybe they all closed their eyes, clapped their hands and repeated "I believe in money fairies! I do, I do, I do believe in money fairies!" And then Warren Buffett and Bill Gates (dressed in Tinkerbell outfits) snuck into Joss's room at night and left a big wad of bills under his pillow.
! *I believe in money fairies! I do! I do believe in money faires!!*


I'll let you all know what happens tomorrow.

[ edited by NYPinTA on 2008-07-11 21:09 ]
And, for the record, I don't believe that any of us actually know whose "six figures" was required to get this project off the ground.


I'm almost certain that he has said in past interviews that he fronted the money for it.
Well then I stand corrected. Or, to steal the words of another talented writer, you can consider me on my knees corrected. ;-)
*checks pillow*

Nothing yet.
Hey, if we know that it's Joss's money we're talking about, who are we to be sitting here commenting on the equity of however Joss chose to structure the repayment of *his* investment of *his* money? Do we really want to be in the position of posting here that he's some kind of capitalist pig if he needs to get his hard cash back before other people start getting upside above and beyond their daily wages? Because that kind of feels like that's where that track of the discussion was going.
No, BrewBunny, that is what one person (only one) was suggesting should happen. I wouldn't say "that's where that track of the discussion was going".
(zeitgeist, I am pretty sick of going to post something and you've already done it. If we're going to share a brain, I'd appreciate it if you'd let me use more of it. ; >)

Yeah, per Cynthia Littleton's Variety blog article:

"Dr. Horrible" is a Joss-led attempt to test-drive the made-for-Internet production business, on his own dime (more like low six-figures though no one would get specific on the budget)...
Yeah, Joss paid for it out of his girl-scout cookie revenues.
Mainly the mint-choccy chip, everyone loves those.
I don't think there is much light to be found in the thickets of the Forest of Business Jargon.

BrewBunny: You say that revenue-sharing is "only justified" where there is risk sharing. I note that volunteering one's labor and time on a project without guarantee of payment is considered a form of financial risk. Isn't it?

To answer that question, it would not actually be useful or necessary for me to specify whether "actors/crew should be entitled to is just the cost of their unpaid daily wages, which is the monetized value of their up-front investment for purposes of comparison to an up-front cash investment."

[As an OT point, bankruptcy law actually does affect the willingness of investors to put up their money, since it affects the level of risk they incur. The lower down they are in priority of repayment, the more risk they incur. But we already know that Joss put up the money for Dr. Horrible without knowing whether he'll make a dime, so your point, while I disagree with it, is not relevant to the discussion. The only relevance of bankruptcy law is that it recognizes that the hours people work is a financial investment that deserves to be repaid, sometimes before the investment of money.]

I don't actually agree that revenue-sharing is justified only when those involved face a financial risk. Nathan, Felicia and NPH won't necessarily incur a financial lost if Dr. Horrible doesn't turn a profit, but the talent they brought to the enterprise and the fan base each has adds something to the endeavor. I don't see why it would be unjustified in giving them -- or talented sound, camera, and light operators -- a share of the revenue from their work. Even if they wouldn't otherwise have been making a dime that week, thus incurring no opportunity costs. Even if making a musical was their idea of an ideal vacation.

And, yes, there are people assuming that Joss is insisting on being paid before the crew. That assumption is not sound. He has poured his time and talent into endeavors that are difficult to financially justify (comic books) and his whole point during the strike was that the creatives need to be paid a share of the revenue stream in order to get and maintain a position in the middle class.

I am going to assume, unstupidly, that there are some expenses he incurred on this project that he has no expectation of ever being repaid.

[ edited by Pointy on 2008-07-11 22:11 ]
He ought to make Captain Hammer Cookies and sell those to fund the next 3 episodes. Because in my dream, Dr. Horrible occurs once a year or so and they all get paid without Joss fronting the money from here on out.

Also the Captain Hammer Cookies are peanut buttery.
Now that I've caught up with the comments made while I was writing my (lengthy) ones, not one person here was heading toward calling Joss a capitalist pig. ETA: Obviously.

Revenue-sharing is a form of capitalism, a way to recruit people's energies into a money-making enterprise.

[ edited by Pointy on 2008-07-11 22:09 ]
I read that as "now that I've caught up with the communists". I think perhaps I should stop reading this thread and have lunch. ;)
Pointy, Please see my prior comment about distinguishing between actors getting repaid the value of their daily wages vs. "upside." I think we're talking about two different things. I have no objection to all contributors of capital, whether financial capital or labor and creative capital, getting part of the upside. But it's also unrealistic to expect contributors of financial captital to take a back seat while labor capital gets paid back *and* then starts getting upside.
b!X, You ought to have some of those Captain Hammer Cookies! FannieMae is selling them out on Wall Street for only $1,000,000 per box. Now maybe if they can sell a few thousand of them, they can spare us all the taxpayer funded bailout.
I'm not talking about daily wages or upside nor suggesting that any party take a "back seat." That should clear that up.
I am going to assume, unstupidly, that there are some expenses he incurred on this project that he has no expectation of ever being repaid.

You're right. You're not suggesting that when it comes to repayment of production expenses he take a "back seat." You're suggesting that he is taking no seat at all.

[ edited by BrewBunny on 2008-07-11 22:13 ]
Not really. It's revenue-sharing, not revenue-forswearing.
The whole question is just a bit moot. If this is released on DVD and the production cost was in the low 6 figures, everyone should end up a winner. Handily. No matter how the revenue or profit sharing is configured.
If only that were true. Whether everyone ends up a winner depends entirely on how revenue is distributed.
Which isn't really up to any of us. How much they make kind of is however since there is a choice to just watch it for free or watch it and then buy it on DVD. If no one does that, all of this talk will be more than just a bit moot.
BUT, as b!X already pointed out, if the actors and crew felt that they were being treated unfairly, they probably wouldn't have signed onto whatever financial deal Joss offered. In which case, it's a little inappropriate for "us" (*cough*Pointy*cough*) to be commenting on the equity of the arrangements, whatever they may be.

[ edited by BrewBunny on 2008-07-11 22:49 ]
Is there a developing consensus that Joss shouldn't have made this? Cause I'm really looking forward to seeing it.
Fortunately, the chances that no one will buy the DVD are zero.
BrewBunny, the history of business in Hollywood, up to and including the most recent labor negotiations, is of people agreeing to deals that they considered unfair because they saw little alternative.

And no one has suggested that revenue-sharing is the only fair way to treat people. I expressed the hope -- exact word -- that the arrangement was revenue-sharing, not profit-sharing.
Simon, As a self-admitted capitalist corporate whore, I wouldn't care if this project were financed through the sales of fuzzy bunny pelts to be made into gun cozies for Russian mobsters. I'm watching it, and if it's good, I'm gonna buy it. Period.
Being another capitalist corporate whore, I'll buy many copies for gifts if it is good.
Well, I've written the lyrics to three songs about it already, so I'd gauge my enthusiasm as high.

The Ballad of Dr. Horrible

Three Little Whedon Sons

The Pearl of Web TV [You have to scroll down a bit for this one.]

[ edited by Pointy on 2008-07-11 23:32 ]
Can I buy many copies if I'm not a capitalist corporate whore? 'Cuz I'm not one of those, but I do want to buy Horrible things for Christmas gifts. Maybe I could put on a CCW disguise to make my purchases . . .
I think the "we did things above-board with the union" quote means that people did get paid -- maybe low-budget union minimum, but paid. I could be wrong, though ...
He said he wanted to pay the crew, but that was during a jokey part of a sentence, so he may have been exaggerating their level of non-compensation for humorous effect. I'm assuming that virtually all of the labor, his included, will be uncompensated until the sales start.
There have been references to "waivers" obtained from the various unions, if I recall, so it's indeed possible that cast and crew only get paid out of profits, and didn't get anything up front.
Or the waivers could be because they worked on it during the strike ? Though I guess Mutant Enemy (was it ?) wouldn't be a struck company anyway so presumably that wouldn't need waiver ... ing (waiving ?) ?

Fortunately, the chances that no one will buy the DVD are zero.

Don't count your chickens Pointy, world ain't reached Tuesday yet - besides, I like to think anything's possible ;).

To my non-economist thinking, if the production costs don't include wages then the costs should be covered first, regardless of who stumped up the initial cash. Then wages after that, then bonuses after that. And couldn't they just share whatever revenues they get evenly ? I mean, surely they don't have to pay one person completely then the next etc., they could pay everyone a bit until all their promised amounts are met (or if total revenues don't reach that, they've each had a fair share of the pie).
With a rumoured 6-figured budget, obviously somebody got paid. As I'm assuming that amount of money wasn't spent on film, props and equipment.

I'm guessing that the actors and others in the crew didn't get paid as much as they normally would as they in a studio production, expecting to get more money, once profit or revenue is generated.

Also according to the articles they will be getting a bigger cut than the unions ask for in contracts, so perhaps those involved decided it would be okay for a profit-sharing model, risking that they would get more money if it's a success.

Anyways, no matter how good or bad it turns out to be, I hope that it makes a lot of money no matter what so that we see more of these types of things, from Whedon as well as other creative people in Hollywood. If I don't like this one (and I imagine I'm going to love it based on what I see so far) I might like Whedon's next one or any of my other favourite writers/directors who try this out if it's successful.
More coverage (and a photo) from the L.A. Times blog "Web Scout" here.

[ edited by QuoterGal on 2008-07-12 00:36 ]
Ooh, pretty picture.
Hah, I just new item'd that a couple minutes ago.
So excited I may break into song!

Whoah . . . moment of self-recognition.
More good press, this time from Kristin on E!

She says it totals about an hour and fifteen minutes long, and that the music "is fiercely catchy." And had this from Joss:

When prodded on the topic, Joss said, "We're so busy talking about the giant Broadway adaptation, the much longer film version and the much longer musical commentary we're writing now, but...yeah, have I thought up the sequel? Yeah, sort of. And the one after that? Little bit. Actually, what we want to do is a sequel right away that's brilliant and then maybe another one many years later that's terrible."

She also had this of interest to Pushing Daisies fans - Doug Petrie was there last night, and said he is joining the writing staff...

"Petrie and pie." (Hee.)

I feel like one of those old-timey press clipping services... and there's so much news these days...
QG, what I actually like the most about the E! piece is that the photo is the same one (or, basically so, not exactly so) as the one in the LA Times blog entry, but from the side instead of the front.
I've tried to read what's on the screen behind them, but it's too fuzzy and it's beyond me... not that it matters, really.
To my non-economist thinking, if the production costs don't include wages then the costs should be covered first, regardless of who stumped up the initial cash.

Labor is usually treated as a cost, but it can be treated as capital. Actually, most of the variables can be renamed with little rational effect by whoever is running the con.

This is not to say that I expect the same from Joss-o-nomics. At all.

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