Mystery Science Theater 3000: Joel Hodgson on Crowdfunding Gizmoplex

Mystery Science Theater 3000 has come a long way since its Minnesota local TV roots in 1988. Expanding its influence over the course of 30 years across the cable airwaves on Comedy Central, SyFy, and even to the digital age in Netflix, MST3K and its cult following remains as strong as ever never really deviating from its original format with a human and two robot companions making fun of the worst Hollywood ever had to offer. Creator Joel Hodgson went back to the crowdfunded Kickstarter with bigger ambitions than when he went to the platform for the Netflix incarnation. Speaking with Collider, the host talked about his latest crowdfunded project to independently produce the series, which includes making his own platform Gizmoplex it's new permanent home, and how it will nurture the fanbase in its immediate future.

A photo from MST3K Mystery Science Theater 3000.
A photo from MST3K Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Hodgson distinguished what his latest campaign will do as it surpassed $3 million at the time of the interview. "It's very exciting," he said. "I mean, we hit our goal faster than the last time, but that was just the first one. And it's a little bit deceiving because we're really going for 12 episodes. So we're a little less than 60 percent. So we're working really harder. I wish it was rigged differently. I wish it was set up differently visually because some people think we've already got our goal, and we haven't, really. We're going for $5.5 [million]. So we're hoping we can get that far. We're trying."

In between filming the series and going on tour, the host had plans to formulate an idea that wouldn't rely on the stability of a network for a stable platform. "There weren't really clear networks to go to," he explained. "It's a very peculiar time. It wasn't that clear. And so the easiest, best way was to go back and do what we did the last time. The last one was such an epiphany for us, doing a Kickstarter. I kind of had a feeling that [fans] were out there. The first one was based on doing all the shows with Cinematic Titanic; over a period of five or six years, we did 100 live shows. And I did the math. I thought, "Well, there's enough people out there that are coming to these shows, that they could back us." And what I learned from it was, it really clarified everything in a big way for us, as far as who our fans were, who wanted to get involved. And it made us famous then in a whole different new way for a lot of people that got us on their radar. And so, doing it again has had the same effect in a way. And I felt like we waited long enough, six years. And we worked really hard and did an extra season on Netflix, and we did live shows, and we did three really big tours, and we did a comic book. So we've been developing it the whole time. So we've done our best to make MST even more dimensional and bigger."

Mystery Science Theater 3000 returns for another round, courtesy of MST3K.com.
Mystery Science Theater 3000 returns for another round, courtesy of MST3K.com.

The fascinating thing Hodgson runs into is the rotating fanbase and how MST3K is still generating new fans after all these years. "We always look at these networks like they're our rich uncle, and we're trying to manipulate our rich uncle to do what we want to do," he said. "The rich uncle dies, and you go, 'Hey, you know what we always wanted to do? Let's go out to eat, let's go get pizza. We don't have to talk him into it to buy any pizza. We can do it ourselves. We're grown-ups.' And so, I think that's kind of the feeling in a way. I know that when I look at the boards for the Kickstarter, I feel like people are really entertained. And they're not just entertained by what we're working on, but they're entertaining each other, and they're amusing each other, and in really unique ways. I think they like each other. And so, that's really fascinating. And the other really interesting wrinkle is that 50% of the people that are funding this weren't involved with the last one. They're all new people. They all, pretty much, came from the stuff we've done in the last six years. So that was really important for me, that that stuff worked and that it got new fans. It's almost like this cultural thing now, where there's a fair amount of old-timers that have been with us a long time, and then a fair amount of new people. I see that as a good thing, creatively and just culturally, for our fan base."

Netflix Cancels Mystery Science Theater 3000, But The Show Isn't Ending
Credit: MST3K

For 12 seasons and 217 episodes, MST3K had numerous talents of actors and hosts participate in the long-running series playing a variety of characters in addition to the robot characters of Crow T. Robot, Tom Servo, and Gypsy. For more on what Hodgson plans for the latest incarnation, how operating independently on Gizmoplex will differ from their experience on the networks, keeping up with his host successors, his cameo on Freeks and Geeks, and more, you can go to Collider.

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About Tom Chang

I'm a follower of pop culture from gaming, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, film, and TV for over 30 years. I grew up reading magazines like Starlog, Mad, and Fangoria. As a writer for over 10 years, Star Wars was the first sci-fi franchise I fell in love with. I'm a nerd-of-all-trades.
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