Mission to (Veronica) Mars

Art & Lit Screen

An exciting thing happened last week, if you happen to be a supporter of the idea of crowdfunding – or of prematurely cancelled television shows. Nearly 6 years after a new episode had been aired, the creator of teen sleuth series Veronica Mars announced a Kickstarter project to revive the show as a film.

Veronica-Mars

Veronica Mars was a critically acclaimed cult show, a noir coming-of-age story that was lucky to get a third and final season on the fledgling CW network as it sought to develop the flashy, headline-grabbing shows such as Gossip Girl and The Vampire Diaries that it is now known for.  The show’s small fanbase was heartbroken when it was cancelled, but not tremendously surprised. There were rumours about a possible film, but nothing ever appeared, and over time even the most hardcore fans accepted that there would simply be no more. It seemed a massive gamble, therefore, for creator Rob Thomas to announce a Kickstarter project over Twitter on a Wednesday morning – particularly when the funding target was an ambitious $2 million. Only ten hours later, however, that target was reached. Even the savviest of television bloggers seemed flabbergasted at how fast word spread and donations flooded in – there was a point where the Kickstarter project page was ticking up thousands of dollars every minute. The goal was reached, the film will be funded, and the industry is left wondering what happened and what it all means.

Whilst it would be easy to see this sort of crowdfunding as the salvation of all untimely-cancelled shows, though, it’s not as simple as that. There are a number of crucial reasons that Veronica Mars succeeded, and it’s hard to imagine all of them being met by other shows any time soon. Most importantly, perhaps, the television studio that owns the rights to the show is fully on board with the film, and will cover the costs of distribution and marketing. Warner Bros appear to have spent about a year sitting on this idea, probably working it past lawyers to make sure it was a
Are there many other cancelled shows that could get both their studio and their scattered cast on board? Maybe a few, but even then they’d face a final hurdle that Veronica Mars was uniquely placed to clear – the actual funding. The target of $2 million is not only a very low budget for a film but also a very large amount to try to raise from donations before the finished product is guaranteed. This particularly passionate fandom rose to the challenge, although it’s interesting that donations tailed off sharply once the target was met, implying fans don’t want to just bankroll a major studio. However, Veronica Mars was always a budget show, and setting such a low target in the first place would probably have been impossible for a film requiring any sort of money for fights, special effects or even many outdoor scenes.

feasible plan and ensuring all the necessary ducks were in line before announcing anything. The second biggest such duck of any film, of course, is the cast. Kristen Bell, who played Veronica, is on board, and indeed there’d be no film without her, but it seems likely that many of the other core cast will also be able and willing to return, allowing the possibility of closure for some character arcs left hanging in the show’s finale.

Films are not cheap, and crowdfunding a summer blockbuster – or even a follow-up to a cult sci-fi show – is still a pipe dream at this point, but perhaps a new model has been established to allow an occasional well-loved property to be rescued from the TV rubbish bin. Now we just have to hope the film turns out to be worth it.