Veronica Mars is one of those television series that has a small, but vocal fanbase. If you bring the long-cancelled show up to a hardcore fan, you may as well grab a cup of coffee (or a stiff drink depending on the fan) and cop a squat because the conversation is going to be long and one-sided. They are like a smaller version of Firefly fans, but more on that later. The showâ€™s creator Rob Thomas and star Kristen Bell have been desperate to revive the show in feature film form basically since it was cancelled after it initial three-year run. Warner Brothers never believed there was enough of a following for the series to merit the big budget studio affair that comes with the creation of a feature film. Finally, Thomas was able to get the WB to agree to foot the bill for a limited theatrical run, the marketing of the film, and the distribution of the film in digital form (VOD, iTunes), if he could come up with the shooting budget.
Bell and Thomas crafted a film with a minisule $2 million budget. Then they put it to the fans on Kickstarter to make the movie happen. The goal was to get the full film budget in 30 days. The full $2 million was accumulated via Kickstarter in just under 10 hours. Rewards for those who donated were many, starting from updates during production and a copy of the script on the day the movie premieres for just a $10 donation all the way up to a speaking role in the film for a $10,000 donation. So the money is in place and plans to go into production are underway. The movie will be shot this summer and have a limited theatrical release in early 2014 before heading to digital distribution.
The success of Veronica Mars on Kickstarter is a game changer for reviving franchises long thought un-savable by the studios that own them. Right away fans of Firefly began screaming for creator Joss Whedon to get a Kickstarter going. While his response was enthusiastic, he also commented in a recent interview with Buzzfeed that he is tied up with Marvel for a few years and Firefly star Nathan Fillion is still wrapped up in the TV show Castle. Whedon did say that once all of that is done, he can take a look again and see if making a Firefly film might be possible.
I’ve said repeatedly that I would love to make another movie with these guys, and that remains the case. It also remains the case that I’m booked up by Marvel for the next three years, and that I haven’t even been able to get Dr. Horrible 2 off the ground because of that. So I don’t even entertain the notion of entertaining the notion of doing this, and won’t. Couple years from now, when Nathan [Fillion]’s no longer [on] Castle and I’m no longer the Tom Hagen of the Marvel Universe and making a giant movie, we might look and see where the market is then. But right now, it’s a complete non-Kickstarter for me.”
“For me, [Kickstarter] doesn’t just open the floodgates. God knows, things are cheaper now than when we made even Serenity. Good effects can be done in a different manner. Nor is that universe all about spectacle either. But it is a tad more expensive â€” and a little all-consuming! And of course, there’s the other fear: What if it’s not that good? I can do something that’s not that good â€” that’s fine. But if I do that and it’s not that good, I’m going to feel really stupid.”
Zachary Levi, the star of another Warner Brothers now-dead show Chuck is more excited the success of Veronica Mars dropping hints on Twitter that he has some ideas for a Chuck movie, telling fans to “Be patient. Stay tuned.”
These are exciting times for film and television, and while the road is definitely bumpy, these short stretches of smooth pavement and wide cloverleafs make the ride a whole lot of fun.