The story isn't new -- website gets made, website is free, website gets popular, website needs to find ways to pay for itself. The tune is now being sung by Roger Ebert, but rather than just asking people to pay for film criticism -- In these times would anyone? Even if it is Ebert? -- the famed critic has started "The Ebert Club," which will offer extra perks to those who cough up the cash.
The twist in this story is the price. While one might imagine some sort of low, per month fee or maybe $25, which folks may or may not bite into, membership will cost only $4.99 for a year's membership if you buy this month, and $5 after April 1: "No, this is not an April Fool's joke. April 1 is the date I was appointed movie critic of the Sun-Times, and I plan to live it up." Those that buy in will get the usual feed of reviews and writing, plus special Twitter pages and connections, web links, private discussion threads, "Occasional Special Pages," advance notice for Ebertfest tickets, and possible live chats.
No, it's not a lot, but we're talking ten cents a week, which is one of the lowest membership prices I've ever seen, if not the lowest. At such a low cost: Will you be joining The Ebert Club?