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April 24, 2014

Dr. Horrible by the numbers

by Brett Love, posted Jul 23rd 2008 3:20PM

Felicia Day - Dr. HorribleNow that we've all had a chance to take in and digest the saga of Dr. Horrible, one of the big questions is "Did it work?" It certainly seemed to work for the viewers. In our poll, an astounding 74.2% of you gave it 5 out of 5. Another 22.5% went with 4 out of 5. The bigger question though, is did it work out for everybody on the money end? And I ask that rather selfishly. Sure, I'd like to see Whedon, Fillion, Harris, Day, and the whole crew make a few bucks. But really, I'm more concerned with getting to see more of the story. If the numbers worked out for all involved, the chances of that happening increase greatly.

Jeffrey McManus has made some educated guesses at just how the numbers shake out for those involved. The short version of McManus' analysis: At a million iTunes downloads he has the principle actors bringing in something in the neighborhood of $100,000 with Whedon coming in at around $4 million $2.6 million. I'm not sure how feasible one million iTunes downloads on iTunes is, but I do know that at the moment Dr. Horrible counts for 3 of the top 4 episodes and the top season on the U.S. lists. Add in the international markets and it's certainly not an outlandish goal.

For what it's worth, Whedon chimed in on the McManus article in the comments over at Whedonesque, noting that the estimates were not far off, as far as he noticed. He also adds that all of those involved with the production did it for the fun, even though the scads of money would be nice.

And, of course, none of that takes into account the two other obvious revenue streams. Is there any reason to think that the DVD won't be successful? I'm sure there are those that passed on the iTunes purchase who are waiting for the DVD. And I'm just as sure that there is a large portion of those that did get the iTunes episodes that will also add the DVD to their collection. The same goes for the soundtrack, which is definitely coming. The Dr. Horrible twitter account was updated this morning with the message, "Working on the soundtrack. Polishing shoes for the Con." It's not unthinkable that a good portion of the Dr. Horrible fan base will buy the thing in all three different media.

What it means for the future of our entertainment is a little bit more murky. I liken the success of Dr. Horrible to that of Radiohead's In Rainbows experiment. Both of them are astounding successes, but both of them rely largely on the fact that there were huge followings beforehand. I'm sure that somewhere out there on the internet someone has already made a show that is in the good doctor's league. Unfortunately, their name isn't Joss Whedon, so getting the word out becomes worlds more complicated.

It is a good first step though. A few more projects built on this model, with recognizable names involved, could draw enough eyeballs that some of those lesser known creators may start to gain some traction.

How many versions of Dr. Horrible do you see yourself buying?
All of them. Anything they release, I'm on board.764 (26.7%)
Three. iTunes, DVD, and the Soundtrack for me.357 (12.5%)
Two. No need to go all crazy.857 (29.9%)
Just the one is all I need.683 (23.9%)
None. The streaming release was good enough.202 (7.1%)

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17 Comments

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Miss Zahrah

If you can't get enough of that wacky singing mad scientist bent on world domination stuff (because it was only 3 episodes for a limited time) ... then check out Doctor Steel! The ongoing movement for world domination with robots, toys, puppets and Mind Control Cookies!- definitely not here for a limited time only!

Check it out his music at www.doctorsteel.com under Audio Experimentation or on YouTube. (psst.. it's free, too!)

July 27 2008 at 4:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ladytex

I can't wait for the dvd to come out. I wanted to buy a t-shirt, too, but they were all out of stock ...

July 24 2008 at 10:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jaerisk

Whedon for the win.

July 23 2008 at 10:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Nathanael

I'm also waiting for the DVD... the three episodes were pure awesomeness. I thought about buying it on iTunes but I figure I'll just wait for a hard copy.

July 23 2008 at 10:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Gemini

Hmmm... 90% of the people polled are willing to buy at least one format of Dr. Horrible. Just over 65% said they wanted 2 or more formats.

And the networks claim there's no money in the internet! Leave it to Joss to make them eat their words.

July 23 2008 at 9:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jenny Hu

Yay! Sounds like Joss will be busy soon with more Dr. Horrible: http://news.tubefilter.tv/2008/07/21/dr-horrible-sequel-in-the-works/

July 23 2008 at 8:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
purplehazel

"Add in the international markets and it's certainly not an outlandish goal"

You sure know how to twist the knife. It's not available on itunes outside the US - only in the US store.

July 23 2008 at 8:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
nicolas.graf

"Add in the international markets and it's certainly not an outlandish goal."
The only international market at the moment is Canada, everybody else can't buy it.

July 23 2008 at 8:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to nicolas.graf's comment
Brett Love

Fair point Nicolas. I'm basing that on a statement from the Dr. Horrible team that they are working on getting the episodes available to international markets, and for now I'm taking them at their word. I do hope it happens sooner, rather than later.

July 23 2008 at 9:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jennifer

I'll buy the DVD and soundtrack (already have the iTunes). Soundtrack has gotta be better than my home mp3's, and I am already panting to hear sung commentary.

Really, I'm just supporting Joss and co. so more things like this can happen.

July 23 2008 at 7:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ryan

I'll be buying the DVD and the soundtrack. I can't wait.

July 23 2008 at 6:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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