What Does the Veronica Mars Movie Kickstarter Mean for You (and Your Favorite Canceled Show)?

By Cory Barker

Mar 14, 2013

By now you've surly heard of the Kickstarter to fund a Veronica Mars movie, organized by the cast (including star Kristen Bell) and creator Rob Thomas. The campaign launched yesterday and by last night, had broken records at the fundraising service, reaching its $2 million goal in a matter of hours. As of this writing it's currently amassed around $2.6 million, with 29 days left to go.

Of course, with a move like this, there are bound to be widely differing opinions. Critics and fans began the merits of the Kickstarter plan since the moment it launched, and with good reason. The near-immediate success of the campaign raises fascinating questions about contemporary TV/movie production, fandom, and the relationship between the two.

There are a number of possible positives to come from this. The first being, well, there’s going to be a Veronica Mars movie. The rumors and rumblings about a potential film have been out there since The CW canceled the show and as the video on the Kickstarter page suggests, the cast (or at least a good chunk of the “important” ones) are totally committed to making the film work. The unbelievable speed at which Rob Thomas and company received donations suggests that there’s still a big—or at least dedicated—fan base out there for the show, so even though I tend to wish that “There will be a movie!” and “We’re doing another season on Netflix!” stories would just go away, I’m happy to know such fans exist for this good show.

Furthermore, if the produced film ends up being successful (and it has to be the film, too, not just the Kickstarter campaign), it’s very likely that this presents a model for future canceled shows with diehard fan bases with disposable income. Fans and critics have knocked around the idea of fan-funded continuations of dead shows before, but a successful Veronica Mars film would lend major credence to that model. The success of the Veronica Mars crowd-sourcing campaign tells us (and Hollywood) that productions can come together in new ways based on what audiences already know that they want—not some property adaptation that’s test-marketed and workshopped dozens of times until it’s lifeless. We’ve already seen independent projects like Jane Espenson’s Husbands web series funded through Kickstarter, and while I hope this Veronica Mars situation inspires more independent television, it's a different animal altogether. It could open the floodgates for other canceled shows to get movies, shorter web series, or who knows, full seasons of television-length content. It’s a big moment for fan empowerment and intervention in traditional Hollywood production processes.

However, there are other ways to look at this development and fan involvement within it. First, while VMars is a great test case for whether or not something like this can work financially (and we now know that it can), it’s also probably an exceptional example of how it would work production-wise. Not only is the cast already on-board and working together to figure out scheduling barriers, but the story is dominated by one character/actor. With Bell on-board, Thomas can alter the story and his use of other performers depending on finances and scheduling to fit any budgetary concerns. Conversely, it’d be tougher to make a similar project happen for a show like, say, Community: bigger, busier cast and a story that kind of needs them all (well, not Chang or Pierce, but you know what I mean). There are similar challenges for shows with higher concepts or budgets (imagine a Kickstarter-funded extension of Terra Nova).

And as Noel and others have pointed out on Twitter, asking fans to partially fund a production that is under the purview of Warner Bros., a massive media conglomerate, is complicated. Rob Thomas doesn’t own Veronica Mars and as the Kickstarter page notes, Warner Bros. is still involved, at least in distribution. It’s unclear at the moment how much money WB is going to kick in to help this thing get off the ground, but the campaign obviously exists to both secure more money that Warner Bros. doesn’t want to pony up and to show Warner Bros. how much fan interest there is in the project once it’s actually done. So fans probably aren’t footing the whole bill, but rather a good portion of it. That makes some people uncomfortable, and I see that, but I guess if you want to give them money to get something you love, it’s their right to ask you for it and your right to give it to them. 

But I want to turn it over to you folks. Did you donate to the campaign, and if so, why? What other projects (web series, spin-offs, movies, etc.) would you be willing to help fund? And which other canceled shows do you think have devoted enough fans to make another, similar Kickstarter’d project work?

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  • jenny_d_b Jul 02, 2013

    I honestly never thought this would happen, I am so happy. And my (now ex)-boyfriend chipped in a 100 dollars to the project as a birthday present. So I haven't even technically given a dime. I will definitely go see the movie in theaters, if it airs here in Norway. As far as I've understood, we've got one of the biggest VM fanbases in the world (if you take into account that we're less than 5 million people), so I'll keep my fingers crossed.

  • BiniBeans Apr 05, 2013

    I totally donated for Veronica Mars. I had previously done the same for one of my favourite authors for a book she wanted to write and it rocked.

    Kickstarter is a great idea to get fan involvement. And yes, it is sad, that big corporations like WB don't see a market for relatively small budget projects for themselves. Still, if they provide the opportunity for a self-funded project like this and then offer their distribution and marketing machine when it is made, I don't see the downside. Indie Films will not suffer from this, rather more people might become aware of the possibilities. Believe in the signal people! (Aside:Firefly got its movie with Serenity)

    By the way, the kickstarter campaign is still live and kicking and I want that fight scene at the class reunion Rob Thomas has mentioned in an interview. So come on Marshmallows, you can at least afford a dollar to receive daily updates from Rob Thomas about the whole affair, can't you?

  • lostcause78 Mar 17, 2013

    Only show I'd ever consider giving money to is Firefly.

    Damn they blew it with that cancellation. So much potential!

  • wheelzofdoom89 Mar 17, 2013

    id love to see a kyle xy movie! that show ended on such a big cliffhanger! as well as reaper!
    and a chuck movie would be epic too!

  • bestfella Mar 17, 2013

    I would love a JAG kickstarter

  • XGalt Mar 17, 2013

    I loved Veronica Mars, but this is going to be a disaster. To much time has gone by, they won't create the same tone as the original, and it'll come off as a direct to video failure. The time for Veronica Mars to happen has past, and the same with so many other shows. There should be a general rule of thumb here. If it's been more than three years (even that might be pushing it) there's no use trying to go back to it.

  • BiniBeans Apr 05, 2013

    Hey, don't be so pessimistic. It will be a movie and not a continuence of the series, so yeah, it will be different. But different doesn't mean bad. We all have to grow up sometime and I have faith in Rob Thomas and the gang. I cannot believe they would go to the effort if they were not committed to have fun with it and deliver same for us fans.

  • FredrikReithe Mar 16, 2013

    Firefly & Moonlight, that's about it.

  • aligroo Mar 16, 2013

    Wonderfalls was such a funny show. Loved it!!

  • MandySCG Mar 16, 2013

    I wish they'd bring back Alphas. :(

  • ajdshnps1901 Mar 16, 2013

    my name is earl is another good choice

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