Kickstopper

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Kickstopper

MovieBob has some concerns that major film studios might start looking to Kickstarter to back their next big project.

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Much as I'm excited to see a Veronica Mars movie, I'm in full agreement with Bob that the industry-related implications of this are frightening. Then again, Kickstarter as a whole has already been moving away from being an "indie thing" to a promotional and financial tool used by ever larger companies.

Big business will eventually co-opt any successful idea. Remember when "online business" used to mean some kind of small cottage-type operation?

I'm not entirely clear on your point here, Bob. If Kickstarter's raison d'etre is to finance projects that otherwise would never have seen the light of day due to a lack of mainstream support... isn't that exactly what's happened here? Moreover, the $35 reward for this project is a digital copy of the movie - about the same price you'd pay for a Blu-Ray ("The Silver Lining Playbook" is going for $28 on Amazon right now) - so at the most basic level, investors aren't required to pay again once the movie actually comes out...

I'm a bit torn. On one hand, Bob is right- Kickstarter was supposed to be about independents and exiles from the mainstream coming in swinging, proving that good projects could find backing in this cold cruel world of ours if they brought their message directly to We The People (cue eagles swooping, flags waving, stirring brass fanfares and/or the patriotic/revolutionary images of your choice.) I'm not thrilled with the idea of Warner Bros. co-opting that system, and I've already basically said that the moment an EA or an Activision gets involved in such a process, our collective response should be to spit in their faces and slam the door on them. If nothing else, we should make sure the Kickstarter legal process is sewn up tight so no matter how big you are, if you try to renege you get hammered for everything the fans gave you and then some.

But another part of me says, "If Joss Whedon said the whole cast was willing to make another Serenity movie and they just needed to prove that there was interest out there, would I contribute?"

Oh, holy fuck, yes, I would. And if there was a speaking part available for top-tier bidders, I would sell an organ.

We have met the gullible sheeple, and he is us.

Diana Kingston-Gabai:
I'm not entirely clear on your point here, Bob. If Kickstarter's raison d'etre is to finance projects that otherwise would never have seen the light of day due to a lack of mainstream support... isn't that exactly what's happened here? Moreover, the $35 reward for this project is a digital copy of the movie - about the same price you'd pay for a Blu-Ray ("The Silver Lining Playbook" is going for $28 on Amazon right now) - so at the most basic level, investors aren't required to pay again once the movie actually comes out...

But what happens when they stop handing out the movie when you pay. What happens when you only get signed posters for $50 or a trailer for a $100.

Thats one question. But the point Bob is trying to make is that studios can now say that there may not be interest in this project. So pay us upfront to prove you want more. How long before a popular show like say The Big Bang theory is in 'danger' and fans need to raise five million to keep the going. Thats the point that Bob is trying to make. That studios no longer have to make a show or movie to sell it, they can now threaten not to make it at all unless fans pay up front. And that is scary.

CrazyBlaze:
But what happens when they stop handing out the movie when you pay. What happens when you only get signed posters for $50 or a trailer for a $100.

Then you do what you would do any time there's a kickstarter with crappy rewards: decide if you still want to give money or if you want to give at a lower level because you don't think the rewards are worth it. This question isn't even a real issue.

I don't know why, but after reading Bob's last line about the revolution looking just the same as the original, it reminds me of Tommy Lee Jones's character in Under Siege.

Tom Breaker: Look, Bill, if this is about reliving the 60's, you can forget about it, buddy. The movement is dead.
William Strannix: Yes, of course! Hence the name: movement. It moves a certain distance, then it stops, you see? A revolution gets its name by always coming back around in your face. You tried to kill me you son of a bitch... so welcome to the revolution.

Vivi22:

CrazyBlaze:
But what happens when they stop handing out the movie when you pay. What happens when you only get signed posters for $50 or a trailer for a $100.

Then you do what you would do any time there's a kickstarter with crappy rewards: decide if you still want to give money or if you want to give at a lower level because you don't think the rewards are worth it. This question isn't even a real issue.

But if its a great Kickstarter with crappy rewards. Like say. A new season of Firefly. Who cares about the donations rewards, the end goal would be all that mattered.

CrazyBlaze:
But what happens when they stop handing out the movie when you pay. What happens when you only get signed posters for $50 or a trailer for a $100.

Then you don't invest in that Kickstarter. It's that simple. I think we all need to take a step back and remember that donating to a project - any project - is entirely voluntary. No one's making you do anything. If you're willing to pay $50 for a signed poster, that's your responsibility, not anyone else's. (And I think that, evidence to the contrary, there is a limit to how far fans can be manipulated.)

CrazyBlaze:
Thats one question. But the point Bob is trying to make is that studios can now say that there may not be interest in this project. So pay us upfront to prove you want more. How long before a popular show like say The Big Bang theory is in 'danger' and fans need to raise five million to keep the going. Thats the point that Bob is trying to make. That studios no longer have to make a show or movie to sell it, they can now threaten not to make it at all unless fans pay up front. And that is scary.

I've never been a fan of the Slippery Slope argument, because it relies on a lot of conjecture and speculation rather than empirical evidence. To wit: one can just as easily argue that any studio which attempted to manipulate its audience in this way and then failed to deliver would be burnt to a crisp by the backlash. Alternatively, one could point out how slowly studios adapt to new situations and new technologies, and how utterly useless they tend to be at doing anything but following their marketing research. I don't think there's any cause for concern there.

CrazyBlaze:
But if its a great Kickstarter with crappy rewards. Like say. A new season of Firefly. Who cares about the donations rewards, the end goal would be all that mattered.

Again I say: in that scenario? Don't donate. If it's funded regardless, you benefit anyway because the product is still being put out there for you to enjoy; if it isn't funded, better rewards will be offered as incentives.

Callate:
I'm a bit torn. On one hand, Bob is right- Kickstarter was supposed to be about independents and exiles from the mainstream coming in swinging.

But another part of me says, "If Joss Whedon said the whole cast was willing to make another Serenity movie and they just needed to prove that there was interest out there", would I contribute? Oh, holy fuck, yes, I would.

Yeah, I was going to bring up Firefly too. I would totally get onboard for another Serenity movie.

Or a new Xenosaga game (cough cough, are you listening Monolith Soft?).

But the other point bugs me a lot too. Big studios using KS as an extra money grab is really shady and could go very bad very fast. I hate the idea of shows or movies being held ransom to the fans' willingness to contribute to a KS. KS is for avoiding big studio involvement, not a prereq.

Diana Kingston-Gabai:
Moreover, the $35 reward for this project is a digital copy of the movie - about the same price you'd pay for a Blu-Ray - so at the most basic level, investors aren't required to pay again once the movie actually comes out...

They are if they want to see it in the theater.

Also, who really pays 35 bucks for a digital copy? For movies, I don't pay more than 10 bucks (I recently got X-Men First Class for 5 bucks on DVD). I only pay 35 bucks for a TV series, and only if it comes a whole season at a time (minimum of 13, 40 minute episodes). I wouldn't pay more than 15 bucks for a Futurama season because the episodes are only 20 minutes long, and I love that show.

Yeah, I remember when showing support for a show or project meant eating half a million Subway sandwiches, or flooding the studio with pie tins. The implication was clear; you don't think the fan base exists to make this worth funding? Well it's here and here's the pile of letters to prove it. It's not that you haven't got the money to do it - you're a studio, of course you have. You just want more.

Just wait until Activision kickstarts $300 million to make the next COD.

Bara_no_Hime:
They are if they want to see it in the theater.

That's still their choice, isn't it?

Bara_no_Hime:
Also, who really pays 35 bucks for a digital copy?

Uh... anyone who buys it via Amazon? Of course there are better deals out there, but that's the ballpark of retail price.

Diana Kingston-Gabai:
Uh... anyone who buys it via Amazon? Of course there are better deals out there, but that's the ballpark of retail price.

Amazon has sales. If you add a product to your wish list, Amazon may even e-mail you if the price drops (I've noticed this particular feature is very inconsistent, but it does work sometimes). Just get it when it's on sale. I never buy things at full price. The very idea!

Bara_no_Hime:
Amazon has sales. If you add a product to your wish list, Amazon may even e-mail you if the price drops (I've noticed this particular feature is very inconsistent, but it does work sometimes). Just get it when it's on sale. I never buy things at full price. The very idea!

Kind of missing the point: Bob's viewing this as "give us money so you can give us more money later", except that the actual movie is being directly distributed to donors who pay the equivalent of DVD retail price.

Well that was weird. The whole article kinda vanished for a day, then came back, complete with forum thread. Weird. Anyway....

Diana Kingston-Gabai:
Kind of missing the point: Bob's viewing this as "give us money so you can give us more money later", except that the actual movie is being directly distributed to donors who pay the equivalent of DVD retail price.

True. But you're kinda missing his and my point.

His Point: A DVD isn't what they're paying for. A movie is something released in a Movie Theater. That is what they're funding, not the DVD. And they will have to pay again to see that in a theater as it is meant to be seen.

You may not care about the difference, but I am sure Movie Bob does because he's Movie Bob.

My Point: Hardly anyone actually pays retail price for DVDs. And a Digital Download is something you often get FREE with a DVD purchase (or, more often, with Blue Ray purchase). I have a free copy of Avatar (the movie) that I have never used because I have the Blue Ray.

I'm one of those people who prefers a physical product. A lot of people are like me. I would be upset if I only got a digital download after paying 35 bucks.

For comparison, I pledged 20 bucks for the current Torment KS. I will get a digital copy of a game that will sell for 60 dollars. For going digital, I am getting a 66% discount, and I'm getting it at release.

20 dollars for a game is what I'd expect to pay for a game on sale on Amazon a few months after release. Torment is offering me that upfront if I get a simple digital download rather than a product in a case - if I wanted a physical product, I'd have to pledge 65 dollars.

Games cost more than movies. Go to Amazon, or Best Buy, or Wal Mart. The games cost more than the movies. The TV shows usually cost more than movies too.

Thus I do not feel that 35 dollars for a digital copy fits the comparative price range for a movie - particularly as a digital download requires no expense on their part to deliver or package, unlike a physical product.

And yes, I see you point - they are getting a product. But I hope you at least see our points (mine and Bob's).

I honestly wonder if Bob would be peeing on the parade if it was a fandom he was interested in... somehow I doubt it...

I'm not sure I have a problem with it. This isn't likely to be an expensive movie to make and it's based on a property that got dropped from CW because of not particularly good ratings, so any executive worth his salt is going to be highly skeptical that they'll get even a modest return on a no-budget movie.

In a way, this could be a good thing as part of movie making is looking for investors. Lack of money is the biggest reason why there's no Terry Gilliam "Don Quixote" starring Johnny Depp. I'm assuming Kickstarter projects are run as investments (with the possibility of returns) and not just people buying really expensive movie tickets. But this really isn't all that different from George Harrison funding "The Life Of Brian" because he was willing to spend a good chunk of his fortune to watch a new Monty Python movie.

So if a marginal hit can gain new life because its fans are willing to make a proper investment (i.e. one with the potential for profit), then this could be very good indeed. The stuff which meets the requirement will get a bit of good press and people might check it out because fans are willing to put their money where their mouths are.

And you should check out Veronica Mars. Yes, there is a lot of pretty people having pretty people problems, but the character of Veronica Mars makes it so worthwhile as she provides a pretty cynical opinion of it. It's kind of like the Josie & The Pussycats movie was a scathing criticism of itself.

Joss Whedon's already come out and said he couldn't even think of a Firefly Kickstarter project for at least 3 years because of how tied up he is at Marvel.

I agree that crowdfunding was supposed to level the playing field for the independents. It's been a real boon for comic creators, tech inventors, musicians tired of being screwed by the labels, retro and indie video game developers, and especially tabletop RPGs, where there are still devoted, passionate fans but fewer and fewer publishers left with ready capital to develop new products.

But the big publishers, labels, studios, et al were watching the likes of Rich Burlew, Double Fine, Pebble, and Amanda Palmer just like the rest of us. It was only a matter of time before they decided to dip a toe in the water themselves.

The thing about revolutions: it's easy to be idealistic while you're still fighting the good fight. But when the revolutionaries win, they have to get down to the business of running things. Then they learn it's not as easy as they thought. They will probably have to sell out some of their ideals. They might end up being as bad as the regime they overthrew. They might even be worse.

I'm worried about this. I'm currently working on a game as a writer and I might have to use Kickstarter to fund it. Yet if this keeps up, people are going to think I'm just scamming them cause I'm secretly working for a big name studio or some BS.

Callate:
I'm a bit torn. On one hand, Bob is right- Kickstarter was supposed to be about independents and exiles from the mainstream coming in swinging, proving that good projects could find backing in this cold cruel world of ours if they brought their message directly to We The People (cue eagles swooping, flags waving, stirring brass fanfares and/or the patriotic/revolutionary images of your choice.) I'm not thrilled with the idea of Warner Bros. co-opting that system, and I've already basically said that the moment an EA or an Activision gets involved in such a process, our collective response should be to spit in their faces and slam the door on them. If nothing else, we should make sure the Kickstarter legal process is sewn up tight so no matter how big you are, if you try to renege you get hammered for everything the fans gave you and then some.

But another part of me says, "If Joss Whedon said the whole cast was willing to make another Serenity movie and they just needed to prove that there was interest out there, would I contribute?"

Oh, holy fuck, yes, I would. And if there was a speaking part available for top-tier bidders, I would sell an organ.

We have met the gullible sheeple, and he is us.

I agree. I don't want to see the big corporations use kickstarter, because it's something that should be used by independent artists and similar. However, there are some shows I would love to see more of, like Firefly for example.

I don't think there's really an issue here. If a movie studio wants to seek Kickstarter support for a movie they don't have total faith in but it has decent fan support, then why not? Being a larger studio should not mean we deny them access to sites such as Kickstarter.

I can't imagine this will become to common place for the big studios anyway. I don't think there's too many shows (movies, sequels, whatever) that could generate that much support. This thread alone is telling. The only thing that has been consistently mentioned is Firefly and I can't really think of many more that I'd be willing to donate towards.

In the end, I like having the option. I never watched Veronica Mars and I did not donate towards its movie, but I think its great that fans of the show were able to. So, I'm fine with any creator, producer, studio, and whoever else I'm leaving out putting up projects like this. I'll happily give them a look and see if I'm interested. As long as everyone can submit their projects, the playing field is still level (at least on my end).

Bob is just afraid of industry change. He is use to the studios making the huge decision and the consumers just hoping. What's wrong with consumers having more power over what gets produced?

ellers07:
I don't think there's really an issue here. If a movie studio wants to seek Kickstarter support for a movie they don't have total faith in but it has decent fan support, then why not? Being a larger studio should not mean we deny them access to sites such as Kickstarter.

I can't imagine this will become to common place for the big studios anyway. I don't think there's too many shows (movies, sequels, whatever) that could generate that much support. This thread alone is telling. The only thing that has been consistently mentioned is Firefly and I can't really think of many more that I'd be willing to donate towards.

In the end, I like having the option. I never watched Veronica Mars and I did not donate towards its movie, but I think its great that fans of the show were able to. So, I'm fine with any creator, producer, studio, and whoever else I'm leaving out putting up projects like this. I'll happily give them a look and see if I'm interested. As long as everyone can submit their projects, the playing field is still level (at least on my end).

I agree, if a studio went to kickstarter to pitch a movie or TV show I would just go "nope, dont watch TV enough to care." but if Joss and Co pitched a new season of Firefly or a new Serenity movie...

I know they would get atleast a few hundred dollars from my friends and I.

I think this is more of a misunderstanding of what kickstarter really represents. I don't even believe the people at kickstarter really understand what they started. Kickstarter isn't about leveling the playing field. Rather, it's about charging more money to people who find more value from a project. Look, airlines do this all the time. They change up their airfares so that for the people that desire cheaper tickets will take the time out of their lives to find the cheapest prices and the people who are insensitive to cost will simply save their time and pay more money. To the perspective of a publisher or producer, people who are willing to pay more should be allowed to pay more money for something. The downside to that is that no-one wants to feel cheated, so you can't attempt direct price discrimination (accept based on age evidently). With kickstarter, however, one is not simply applying price discrimination. Every individual is allowed to choose whether they want to contribute more or not.

This way of thinking, however, does break down the nature of our current social contract: producers take a risk in producing something and consumers are given the choice of whether or not they buy it. The benefit to producers is that they control their product. This new model where consumers can directly vote with their wallet, rather than metaphorically as before, is inherently riskier for the consumer. You could be backing something that's complete crap or you could be backing something that is amazing. The fundamental problem, however, seems to be that this isn't an investment and people who support kickstarters don't get any benefit beyond the knowledge that they donated to bring a product to market. From an economic stand point, the only way one should support a kickstarter is if you very much desire a product to exist and you believe it won't come to the market without your funding.

If they do this with Gravity Falls, I'll be so pissed. And I will donate up whatever amount of money it takes to get an official Dipper hat.

As others said, it's a difficult issue, on one hand you don't want big studios and corporations taking advantage of fandoms, on the other hand there's a lot of risk in the industry and no way to tell whether something will make money. In years past people complained about good series ending but corporations basically said "it didn't get enough watchers, if you wanted it to stay you would have gotten more people to watch!" Then DVDs of TV shows became popular, and then Family Guy came along... that's when they started to learn about cult and sleeper hits and how much money that can make them. But there's still a risk, because they can't accurately predict what will become a cult/sleeper and what won't for some time, and they have to make decisions during that amount of time.

So they do stuff like this. Liked Veronica Mars? PROVE you liked it and prove our metrics wrong, prove that it will be profitable and that you're true fans... sad, but it's a reality and it might give such poor cancelled shows a shot at being revived and renewed. Pros and cons, I guess.

In my experience, every sentence that starts with "Kickstarter was supposed to be..." tends to end with an incredibly arbitarily chosen obsession of whoever is speaking at the moment. "Kickstarter was supposed to be like a charity!", Kickstarter was supposed to help poor indie artists as a last resort!", "Kickstarter was supposed to increase innovation and original IPs!"

Crowdfunding is just another model to fund creative projects, but with more audience involvement. That's it. Isn't that revolutionary enough on it's own?

If you think that's "exactly like what came before", then your expectations for innovation are way too high. As long as projects are based around public demands, they will always have to balance between innovation and familiarity. It's part of human nature, that whie we don't want our entertainment to be boringly same-y, we also don't want it to be disorientatingly unusual.

So far, most big Kickstarters are way more original than the media general. Sure, they describe themselves by established genres, or they are the spiritual successor of something, or there is a familiar face behind them, but that's not quite Transformers 4 either.

Callate:
I'm a bit torn. On one hand, Bob is right- Kickstarter was supposed to be about independents and exiles from the mainstream coming in swinging, proving that good projects could find backing in this cold cruel world of ours if they brought their message directly to We The People (cue eagles swooping, flags waving, stirring brass fanfares and/or the patriotic/revolutionary images of your choice.) I'm not thrilled with the idea of Warner Bros. co-opting that system, and I've already basically said that the moment an EA or an Activision gets involved in such a process, our collective response should be to spit in their faces and slam the door on them. If nothing else, we should make sure the Kickstarter legal process is sewn up tight so no matter how big you are, if you try to renege you get hammered for everything the fans gave you and then some.

But another part of me says, "If Joss Whedon said the whole cast was willing to make another Serenity movie and they just needed to prove that there was interest out there, would I contribute?"

Oh, holy fuck, yes, I would. And if there was a speaking part available for top-tier bidders, I would sell an organ.

We have met the gullible sheeple, and he is us.

I'd go a bit farther than that; I'd lock down the system against any big companies (Let's say above an annual revenue of 100 million). Smaller companies and start-ups can use it to kickstart a large project, while bigger companies have to rely on their own revenue.
(I know that this is unrealistic and the math is probably bad, but you get my point.)

And I would only fund a Firefly film if it was cut off entirely from 20th Century and Universal; both those companies could easily make the movie, but they haven't because they aren't sure of the profits (and they might not be able to get the cast and crew involved, etc.), and I don't want to pay them so that either a) they make a ton of money off a successful movie, or b) there is little to no financial loss to them for making a movie that doesn't sell well.

tkioz:
I honestly wonder if Bob would be peeing on the parade if it was a fandom he was interested in... somehow I doubt it...

It definitely helps that he isn't in love with Veronica Mars, but that doesn't mean the point isn't valid. I've seen enough Kickstarters to know that perspective goes out the window when it's something you love.

Bara_no_Hime:
My Point: Hardly anyone actually pays retail price for DVDs. And a Digital Download is something you often get FREE with a DVD purchase (or, more often, with Blue Ray purchase). I have a free copy of Avatar (the movie) that I have never used because I have the Blue Ray.

You probably don't even have it anymore; if you never used it, the voucher probably expired by now. And "hardly anyone" pays retail price? If that were true, they would have noticed and made the standard retail price lower. Nobody wants merch to just sit on the shelf for weeks unsold because 90% of potential customers are waiting for the price to go down. Maybe nobody you know pays retail price, but nobody I know is a Twilight fan either.

I don't understand the problem at all.

I mean, worst case scenario is we get an investor who pockets an extra 2 million or whatever that he didn't need. Unless he's Scrooge McDuck and enjoys filling swimming pools with money, what's he going to do with that extra cash? Right.. invest it. Probably in another movie.

The thing of "they might run Kickstarters for things they were going to do anyway.." Uh.. yeah. So what? See above. It's not like anybody is forced to give any money.

Really, the only group this is bad for is the middle-man markets who sell licensed stuff to fandom.. because now fandom will be getting their stuff directly from funding the studio at various tiers. And that's called efficiency folks.

Steve the Pocket:
You probably don't even have it anymore; if you never used it, the voucher probably expired by now. And "hardly anyone" pays retail price? If that were true, they would have noticed and made the standard retail price lower. Nobody wants merch to just sit on the shelf for weeks unsold because 90% of potential customers are waiting for the price to go down.

Well, first of all, do you look at the actual retail price on most products? Amazon, Best Buy, and Walmart all typically sell below "suggested retail price" as their default. Anyone who buys at those locations at the normal shelf price is still getting it below "retail" price.

For that matter, any game you buy used is below retail price. Maybe only 5 bucks below, but still. Sure, some sales are more significant than others, but I'm pretty confident that at least 50% of sales on most consumer products like DVDs, games, and similar occur below "retail" price.

Secondly, I don't really think this is the issue. Look at my other reply on the topic.

RaikuFA:
I'm worried about this. I'm currently working on a game as a writer and I might have to use Kickstarter to fund it. Yet if this keeps up, people are going to think I'm just scamming them cause I'm secretly working for a big name studio or some BS.

I am in a similar position people won't want to sponsor me and my game with only 2 people working on it and both paying our way through college at the same time when they already are funding giant studios for projects that really don't need the money nearly as much.

I mean Veronica Mars got its chance and it got canceled and all this says it that they deserve a second chance before a lot of other people even get a first try.

Man everyone talking about backing a Firefly kickstater is EXACTLY the kind of thing Bob was talking about here. Firefly (last I checked) is still owned by Fox, a company that is not exactly short on cash. They could easily put the show back on the air with money out of their own pockets, so why would you give them money to do something they can already afford to do?

Thunderous Cacophony:

It definitely helps that he isn't in love with Veronica Mars, but that doesn't mean the point isn't valid. I've seen enough Kickstarters to know that perspective goes out the window when it's something you love.

Yes, it means exactly that.

If all these negative portrayals of Kickstarter projects can only be agreed by those who are not the target audience, you fail to portray how the model is actually bad.

Like if you want to argue that all FPS games are bad because they have the same generic atmosphere, while a fan of the genre could enthusiastically describe several art styles and atmospheres inside a genre, your argument fails, your distance from the subject matter doesn't make you more neutral, just more ignorant.

It's the same deal with Kickstarters. If you want to argue that a given Kickstarter is bad because it's not innovative enough, or because it means that the work is "held at ransom", but anyone who actually desires the promised work is enthusisastically claiming that it's interesting enough, and that the franchise getting "held at ransom" is better than it getting buried, then you make any objective point beyond "I don't care about this Kickstarter".

Stevepinto3:
Man everyone talking about backing a Firefly kickstater is EXACTLY the kind of thing Bob was talking about here. Firefly (last I checked) is still owned by Fox, a company that is not exactly short on cash. They could easily put the show back on the air with money out of their own pockets, so why would you give them money to do something they can already afford to do?

Because I would rather watch Firefly season 2 made by Fox, than punish Fox for not making Firefly season 2.

synobal:
Bob is just afraid of industry change. He is use to the studios making the huge decision and the consumers just hoping. What's wrong with consumers having more power over what gets produced?

There's a fine line between the consumer having more power, and the illusion of having power while you're really just getting jerked around.

He touched on that in the article.

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