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'Critical Role' campaign for animated 'Dungeons & Dragons' special breaks Kickstarter record with $5.8 million raised in four days

Key Points
  • The "Critical Role" Kickstarter campaign is now the most-funded film/video project on the crowdfunding site.
  • In less than four days, the campaign has raised nearly $6 million from more than 42,000 backers.
  • The campaign still has 42 more days until it closes.
Source: Critical Role

The folks behind web series "Critical Role" never expected their Kickstarter campaign would raise more than $5.8 million, let alone smash records on the crowdfunding website.

The group launched a Kickstarter campaign on Monday to create an animated series based on the first "Critical Role" campaign. Within an hour of its launch, it raised more than $1 million in funding and is still gaining steam.

The campaign, based on "Dungeons and Dragons," had raised nearly $6 million from more than 42,000 backers by Thursday. It is now the most-funded film/video project and the 15th most-funded campaign on Kickstarter, according to the fundraising website.

The "Critical Role" campaign still has 42 more days until it closes.

The previous record holder for the most-funded film/video project was Joel Hodgson's successful effort to revive "Mystery Science Theater 3000" in 2015. Hodgson's campaign earned a total of $5.76 million.

Currently, the most-funded project is the Pebble Time smartwatch, which garnered $20.3 million from 78,000 backers in 2016.

"We are eternally humbled," said Matthew Mercer, the dungeon master behind "Critical Role's" two campaigns.

"Critical Role" is a weekly livestreamed "Dungeons and Dragons" game played by voice actors from TV shows "Avengers Assemble," "Spider-Man" and "Transformers" as well as video games including "Overwatch," "The Last of Us" and "Fallout."

The group started sharing adventures on livestreaming platform Twitch in 2015 and has racked up more than 17 million views on YouTube.

Mercer said the group behind "Critical Role" had the idea to do an animated special as a "love letter" to fans, known as Critters. They pitched it to a number of different distributors and investors, but "understandably, they were all reticent," he said.

So, the group turned to crowdfunding the special.

"At the very least, we could do a 20-minute piece of animation," he said, noting that Critters had been asking for an animated project.

"Critical Role" will be able to do much more than the 22-minute special it had planned when it launched the Kickstarter with a goal of $750,000.

"Critical Role" smashed through its initial monetary goal and its initial "stretch goals" to its backers. Stretch goals are monetary benchmarks on Kickstarter that, when surpassed, give backers more rewards, such as merchandise, art or downloadable content.

Instead of a special, "Critical Role" will now be doing an animated series. So far, backers have funded four episodes of "The Legend of Vox Machina" and, if more money is raised, the team will be able to produce even more content.

The series, having been successfully backed, will be produced by Titmouse, the production company behind Netflix's "Big Mouth," and it will be written by Jennifer Muro ("Star Wars: Forces of Destiny").