UPDATE: In under 12 hours, the Veronica Mars movie project has already exceeded its funding goal thanks to 31,000 backers anxious to see the film come to life. The project previously broke a Kickstarter record, earning its first million dollars in four hours and 24 minutes.
In 2007, the little-seen, much-loved Veronica Mars was axed by The CW, an inevitable fate after low ratings on both UPN and the infant amalgamation. The devoted fanbase went ballistic, but creator Rob Thomas kept hope for the character alive: the Season 3 DVD featured a teasing trailer for a non-existent season in which Veronica joins the FBI. While it wasn't a true possibility, Thomas let even grander ideas out of the bag. In 2008, he revealed that he and star Kristen Bell were discussing plots for a movie.
Five years later, Thomas and Bell are finally ready to make the wishful thinking a reality.
Wednesday morning, the writer and actor pair announced through an interview with Entertainment Weekly that Veronica Mars is written and ready to shoot… as long as they can raise $2 million through the popular crowfunding website Kickstarter. Like independent films, games, and craft projects before them, Thomas and Bell are going outside the studio to fund the Mars big screen adaptation. The fate of the film has now been firmly placed in the hands of fans.
The Veronica Mars movie was the rumor that wouldn't die, the last question of every interview with Thomas or Bell, regardless of whatever new project they were discussing. For five years, rumors swirled on the Internet on whether Thomas could spark the interests of executives at Warner Bros. Studios (the rights holders for the Mars property) into resurrecting the cult show. As Thomas admits in his message on Kickstarter, the writer/producer played a major part in faning the flames of that online conversation to keep the dream alive.
"I probably stoked fan fervor in my optimistic comments about the prospects. Warner Bros. wasn’t convinced there was enough interest to warrant a major studio-sized movie about Veronica and the project never got off the ground. After that, I tried to tamp down expectations. I didn't want to be guilty — at least not twice — of building up hope when the odds seemed so long. Still, without fail, in every interview I do or every place I speak, I get the 'will there be a Veronica Mars movie?' question. Even after a couple of years of downplaying the chances, I'd still run across blog postings headlined, 'will Rob Thomas shut up about the Veronica Mars movie, already!' I was trying to. I promise."
With the emergence of Kickstarter as a viable option of funding larger-scale projects ("larger" still meager in comparison to major studio blockbusters), Thomas saw an opportunity to get the Veronica Mars movie off the ground. He and Bell went to Warner Bros. with the idea of raising the dough from fan contributions and was eventually given the go ahead. Meaning, even with the talent lining up to make the movie, Veronica Mars' big screen return is still a crapshoot:
"I suppose we could fail in spectacular fashion, but there's also the chance that we completely revolutionize how projects like ours can get made. No Kickstarter project ever has set a goal this high. It's up to you, the fans, now. If the project is successful, our plan is to go into production this summer and the movie will be released in early 2014."
For fans, Thomas' promise for the direction of the movie couldn't be a sweeter. In hopes of reuniting most of the original cast, the movie will bring Veronica back to Neptune (from wherever it was that she went after Hearst College) for her 10-year high school reunion. "In the years since spoiling Keith's chances to be reelected sheriff, Veronica hasn't taken a case," Thomas says. "But something big is about to bring her back home and back to her calling." Thomas promises to wrangle as many Veronica Mars character as he can with for the new mystery — and if the Kickstarter pledge video accompanying the fundraiser is any indication, many are already on board (you can't really make a Mars movie without Jason Dohring, Enrico Colantoni, and Ryan Hansen, right?)
At the time of this article — less than an hour after releasing the Kickstarter page — the movie has already raised over $112,000 of its $2 million goal. Unless the vocal fanbase takes a month-long nap, expect a Veronica Mars movie in theaters by 2014.
Now how about that Party Down movie?
Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches