The Royal Heffernans

Quite possibly the best family ever

Friday, August 30, 2013

Can a Website Jump the Shark?


So we've all used the term for TV. It's the precise moment when a formerly great show takes that final and fatal turn for the worse. Fonzie was the original on Happy Days, but nearly every show has "that" moment. I wonder if the same can be said of a website?

Movies are a favorite topic hear on The Royal Heffernans blog. Probably 2nd only to Notre Dame. I own hundreds of movies, and am embracing the new technology and streaming more and more at home. Obviously, keeping up with upcoming movies online is a big part of that. For many years, my "go to" website was Ain't It Cool News. Harry Knowles and his crew liked the types of movies I liked. They had great sources, and always seemed to have the scoop on exciting new projects. They were irreverent, and would tear down a movie if it wasn't any good. It was almost a one stop shop for movie info.

Now, I think that has changed. For many reasons (all of which I will not go into here), the fans of this website, which was once the pinnacle of online movie news, have turned on Harry and the site. Suffice it to say that the quality of the website has gone down. Reviews are no longer trusted. The appearance of the website seems woefully behind the rest of the internet. Exclusive news and scoops are fewer and farther between. The website has also had some financial difficulties. 

In an effort to reinvent his brand, Harry started a web series titled, Ain't It Cool with Harry Knowles. He produced a series of short episodes, of which I had no interest in watching. By most accounts, they were self-indulgent and smarmy. In any case, Harry wanted to take his series to the next level and up the ante for season 2. So he did what anyone in Hollywood would do - he followed the current trend. That would be crowd-sourced financing.

So not only did Harry ask for financing for his new season. He WANTS $300k to build a studio, produce a show, pay for guests travel and even get a TV partner! However, he NEEDS $100k at a minimum just to allow production of the season. Why he needs that much for a web series, only Harry knows. However, the backlash has been merciless. In the most active talkbalk I have ever seen on AICN, thousands of former fans are lashing out at Harry and the Kickstarter campaign. I'll let talkbalker reflecto say it on his top comment:

Okay, look, in all seriousness, Harry:


The "first season" was just a vanity project for you - all about you, starring you, about you and your fabulous toys which you have and no one else does and we're supposed to envy you. Any guest who came on who had accomplished more than you from humble roots (like the writer of Sinister) you shit on.

You blatantly distributed fake information on the Prometheus script then refused to properly apologize and laughed it off like a joke. Just like you've refused to properly apologize for so many plant reviews. Refused to apologize for gross errors in judgment like promising for a decade to update the site and failing to, and never bothering to properly set up regular communication with your consumer base. Refused to apologize for going into movies reviewing them "in your head" as the movie you imagine them to be as opposed to the movie they are - whether good (in the case of Chris Nolan) or bad (in the case of most summer movies of the last five years which you hyped yourself about because of a director or property, regardless of the film's actual quality). You refuse to apologize for even penny-ante mistakes like being too lazy to do your DVD column, or "Brian Cox", or when you watch screeners instead of going to the actual movie. You refuse to admit any fault. You refuse to acknowledge any failure. Because to you, everyone here with a valid complaint is just a cranky joke you call "Boiler", and their negativity (and your crippling debt) doesn't belong in Harry's magical world of movies where he's special and really cool and you're not, don't you want to be just like him?

And now you expect the "Boilers" to fund another season of a boring show that is all about you, all about your toys, all about your ego and has nothing to offer the world.

Have the balls to reply to your users for once, and tell me exactly why anyone should do that after everything else I've just described.

Umm, yeah. This project is going down in flames, and I think the end is nigh for Ain't It Cool News. Any other great movie sites out there that people are following? Tough to find that one site...


Teddy said...

As an aside, if it can be done, this blog may Jump the Shark if we don't start getting some more posts and comments from everyone!

Kevin said...

I don't watch movies very often, but when I do, I prefer Tres Equis.

Kevin Lee said...

I pretty much get all my movie news from now.

Colin and Liz said...

I go to rotten tomatoes for reviews. Or I just google the crap out of it for years until it pays off, see Enders game.

Teddy said...


He raised over $70k in the final 2 days. Total joke. He must have had a few influential friends (cough - Peter Jackson, cough Guillermo del Toro) make some big donations to get it done.

Something screwy with that last frantic pace.