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'Mystery Science Theater 3000' kicks off crowdfunded comeback… no network required

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Apr 7, 2021, 4:34 PM EDT

Through nearly three decades of hilarious sniping at delightfully bad movies, Mystery Science Theater 3000 has earned a loyal and definitely devoted fan base. It was the fans, after all, who helped MST3K revive for a pair of new seasons at Netflix, thanks to a wildly successful crowdfunding campaign back in 2015.

But with Netflix electing not to renew the series following its last appearance in 2018, we’re now three years out from the last batch of new episodes.

MST3K creator Joel Hodgson thinks he’s struck on a winning formula not only for bringing the series back, but for making sure it never again has to go searching for a streaming or network home. In a just-launched Kickstarter campaign, Hodgson is appealing to fans to fund a fresh round of episodes — and, perhaps more importantly, to help create what he’s calling the “Gizmoplex,” an online streaming platform created exclusively to feature new MST3K content.

In a bullet-point explanation to fans, Hodgson lays out the rationale for bootstrapping MST3K under its new, platform-independent model. “If enough of you want more MST3K, maybe we don't need anyone to renew us,” he reasons. “From now on, we want you to decide how long MST3K keeps going… We don't need a network to ‘let us’ make more MST3K. We can make it for you.”

While the campaign aims to raise enough money to fund a new season, what’s really key to the whole plan is the “Gizmoplex” — “an online theater for live screenings & monthly special events,” according to the crowdfunding page. Setting up a home base that delivers new episodes directly to fans, it adds, would also help engage the MST3K fan community through “frequent live screenings, premieres, and community events” that even include fan-hosted “MST3K watch parties with friends whenever you want.”

The $2 million base goal would allow for three new episodes of MST3K and the creation of the Gizmoplex virtual theater — but things grow way more ambitious in the stretch. At the highest goal of $5.5 million, the series pledges 12 new full-sized episodes, as well as 12 additional shorts. Hodgson even teases bigger ideas, should the fan response go over the top, including MST3K’s first-ever 3D movie, as well as bringing virtual reality to the Gizmoplex viewing experience.

Though it only just launched, word of the crowdfunding campaign is apparently getting around via the associated #MakeMoreMST3K social tag. At the time of this writing — and with nearly all of its allotted 30 days still to go — the campaign already had raised more than $700,000 toward its $2 million goal, a figure that’s sure to have grown by the time you read this (in fact, it grew by approximately $100,000 in the time it took to write this article.)

As Hodgson notes on the Kickstarter page, fans and critics alike warmly welcomed MST3K’s short-lived Netflix run, with the show’s two seasons at the platform netting a 100 critics’ Tomatometer rating and a 91 percent approval rating from fans at Rotten Tomatoes. If more MST3K is a dream you share with Hodgson and the rest of the fan community, head on over to Kickstarter and check out the full campaign.