Braun's Indiegogo Campaign for 'The Empire Strikes Back XXX' Ends
LOS ANGELES — When Axel Braun set out to crowdfund $500,000 to finance the sequel to his 2012 parody, “Star Wars XXX,” he knew it wouldn’t be an easy task.
According to Braun, it was a bold move to make a statement against online piracy, and a way to bring to life a beloved and massively expensive parody that in today’s market would never be profitable.
“I figured, if the fans really want it and are willing to contribute to it, I will shoot it and make it available for free all over the world,” Braun explains. “Star Wars XXX was absolutely a labor of love, and I’ve been wanting to shoot the sequel for years, but it just didn’t make financial sense.”
“Online piracy has decimated DVD sales,” Braun adds. “While my big-budget movies are still plenty profitable, they don’t cost anywhere near the money that was needed for ‘The Empire Strikes Back XXX.’”
As a result, Braun started a 60-day crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo.com, offering perks such as costumes from the movie, on-set visits, and video messages from the cast. Even a trip to Alaska, where he planned on filming the famous Battle of Hoth. The campaign was set up as a fixed funding program, which means if it didn’t reach its goal, all contributions would be automatically refunded.
Braun says he wanted to make it very clear that he wasn’t out to make money for himself.
“I just wanted to try a different way of financing a very special project, and although we were not successful, I am still sincerely happy that I did,” Braun says. “[$109K] is a stratospheric budget for a porn parody, unfortunately ‘Empire’ could not be done right for that amount, otherwise I would have funded it myself in a heartbeat.”
Longtime Braun collaborator and producer of “Star Wars XXX,” director Eli Cross, says he is equally pleased with the outcome:
“I dare anybody else on the planet to crowdfund $109K for a porn film,” said Cross. “Axel had the balls to stand up for what he believes in, and didn’t fear losing face if it meant giving fans the opportunity to see an awesome movie come to life, and to be able to watch it for free. Legally.”
“It would have been the first and maybe the only adult movie of its kind, but I think a lot of people misconstrued what we were trying to do, and thought we were just gonna shoot it anyway, or pocket a bunch of money,” Cross says. “Gotta love the haters, but we were very clear and straightforward: this is how much it’s gonna cost, and if we don’t raise the full amount we won’t shoot it, and everybody will get their money back. So that’s exactly what’s happening.”
With plans for an all-star cast, “The Empire Strikes Back XXX” attracted the attention of Dani Daniels, Lexi Belle, and Casey Calvert, while Riley Steele pledged the first and only anal scene of her career to help the campaign.
“I always swore I’d never do it,” said Steele, “But this project was so enthralling, and such a decession from anything that anybody had ever attempted, so I felt the least I could do for Axel was to give up my virgin butt for the cause!”
As a final message to fans and supporters, Braun posted the following update on the campaign page:
“Alright, so the campaign didn’t reach its goal, which means unfortunately I will not shoot ‘The Empire Strikes Back XXX.’ That’s right, this was not a gimmick, there was no secret investor, or hidden agenda. I actually meant everything I said, and my motivation behind this was purely to get the movie made and release it for free. In today’s market, a $500K adult movie will not make its money back, and would probably lose about $200K. That’s why I had decided to try crowdfunding it... because, y’know, the prospect of forking out half a million dollars of my own money, shooting for 28 grueling days, and spending the following three months locked up in an editing room only to lose $200,000 didn’t sound too appealing. And yes, making it for less would have compromised the project’s quality in such a way that it was impossible for me to even go there. And believe me, I tried.
Nonetheless, we still raised $109,485 which is way more than the budget of 99.9 percent of porn movies produced nowadays, and I am extremely proud of this accomplishment. I want to thank all the awesome fans who contributed to the campaign, you guys were absolutely amazing and I wish I could have rewarded your commitment with the epic movie you deserve. And don’t worry, I’m not taking your money and going to buy a new sports car... Indiegogo is automatically refunding all your contributions.
To my wonderful returning cast, Allie Haze, Seth Gamble, Lexington Steele, Dick Chibbles, and Chi Chi LaRue, my three exceptional contract girls Aiden Ashley, Carter Cruise, and Riley Steele, and the awesome group of performers who signed up along the way and promoted this project, Dani Daniels, Lexi Belle, Casey Calvert, thank you so much! And kudos to Katrina Jade, who won the fan contest by a landslide, proving that she has what it takes to become a big porn star.
This was definitely a learning experience, and I am glad that I embarked on it. It taught me a lot about my target audience, the power of social media, and the state of the industry. Could I have pushed harder? Absolutely. But I guess there’s a fine line between shamelessly promoting and flat-out begging, and I just didn’t feel comfortable crossing it. That’s just not who I am.
So is this the end of ‘The Empire Strikes Back XXX?’ I’m afraid so.”