The Veronica Mars movie project on Kickstarter made history yesterday as $2 million was made in less than ten hours, through fan donations desperate to see this movie be made.
Yesterday the creator of Veronica Mars, Rob Thomas, and Kristen Bell, the actor who played the titular character Veronica, announced that Warner Brothers has agreed to make the long awaited (by fans at least) movie. The catch? Bell and Thomas had to demonstrate to the executives that there was enough demand for the movie by fans. To do that they went to Kickstarter, a fundraising website used by indie filmmakers and small projects, with the aim of making $2 million in thirty days. Because Warner Brothers owns the rights to Veronica Mars the project needed their backing, and they agreed to support the project if this amount of money was raised. Offering rewards for donations from $10 upwards (a pdf copy of the script on the day of release) to $10,000 (for a speaking role in the film), the page made their required amount in ten hours yesterday, with donations still coming in. At the time of writing this, the project has made over $2.6 million, with just over 44,000 backers. The reward for a donation of $10,000 went within the first 90 minutes of the Kickstarter page being live, showing the strong fan desire to get this movie made.
This project has been a long time in the making; six years in fact. Veronica Mars ran on UPN from 2004 for two series, until it was bought by The CW (which is owned by Warner Brothers) in 2006, and ran for one series until it was, in my opinion, prematurely cancelled in favour of other shows. After the series was cancelled, Thomas wrote a script for a film and pitched it to executives at Warner Brothers, but they decided not to fund the project, as they felt that there would not be the audience for the film to make it worthwhile for them. Fans were understandably disappointed and put together several campaigns, one raising enough money to fly an airplane over the CW headquarters with the banner spelling out ‘Veronica Mars’.
Apart from being great news for fans of the TV show, of which I am one, this story provides an interesting question: is this a game changer for how independent and smaller films are going to be financed going forward. Bearing in mind Veronica Mars has a dedicated cult fanbase, this case does suggest if enough people are behind a project, and are willing to put their money where their mouth is, that there could be an increase in films made for established fanbases. Already on tumblr and twitter there are people commenting that Joss Whedon should try this to get a continuation of Firefly, with other TV shows being mentioned as candidates for this kind of treatment. I don’t know if this would work for other shows, especially considering that Firefly did get a movie conclusion in the form of Serenity and the fact that Veronica Mars was ended so abruptly and without warning that fans were left with no resolution for the characters, but if this proves to be a successful mould it could change the way that movies are made.
The best thing about this project for me (apart of course from the movie getting funding)? The video that Bell, Thomas and fellow cast mates Jason Dohring, Ryan Hansen and Enrico Colantoni made to promote the kickstarter. Check it out – it’s brilliant!