In fewer than 24 hours, Kristen Bell and “Veronica Mars” creator Rob Thomas used Kickstarter to raise $2 million to create a movie based on the TV show that aired from 2004 to 2007. The show, which aired on UPN and later on the CW, starred Bell as a high school/college student who moonlit as a private investigator at night. While not a ratings success, critics overall gave “Veronica Mars” positive reviews and the show earned somewhat of a cult following, like its counterparts “Firefly” and “Arrested Development.”
The online campaign is a first for Hollywood. Kickstarter.com, a crowdfunding site typically ventured by small projects and startups, showed extreme generosity to Bell and Thomas, who received donations from nearly 50,000 people online. One person even gave $10,000 to the movie’s campaign for the promise of a speaking role in the film. The campaign for “Veronica Mars” was also the fasted to reach $1 million in Kickstarter’s history.
You’re So Popular
So why does such a popular show-turned-movie need backing from the fans in the first place? Despite its cult following today, “Veronica Mars” struggled with ratings during its tenure on television. The show had the unfortunate timing of being on the air during the merger between UPN and the WB networks to form what is now The CW. According to www.direct.tv, these channels are available on basic cable or satellite packages, but once the merger between the two channels took place, the ratings never recovered and the show was canceled in 2007.
Where the show lacked in ratings, it made up in acclaim. In general, critics spoke highly of “Veronica Mars.” Some even thought Kristen Bell was overlooked for an Emmy award nomination. Writer and director Kevin Smith, who guest starred in an episode of the show, said that it was “hands-down, the best show on television right now, and proof that TV can be far better than cinema.”
It should also be noted that a “Veronica Mars” movie wasn’t completely snubbed by the movies, either. Warner Brothers agreed to fund the rest of the project if the campaign reached its $2 million goal on Kickstarter, which was accomplished easily enough to make WB confident in their decision. Kristen Bell, who plays the show’s main character, tweeted “I love you guys. You are all SO spectacular. I am speechless” after the movie reached its fundraising goal.
This could be a monumental step towards the way movies are funded in the future and just what types of movies we see hit theaters. The fans demanded a “Veronica Mars” movie and nearly 50,000 of them made that demand a reality. The move is a first for Hollywood, but it probably won’t be the last.
“Veronica Mars” is expected to hit theaters in 2014.