Kristen Bell, cast to reunite, create long-awaited Veronica Mars movie

[pullquote1 quotes=”true” align=”center”]Return of Mars likely after Kickstarter project puts forth out-of-this-world effort[/pullquote1]

BY GEORGIANNA PISANO-GOETZ’15
Staff Writer

Fan favorite and girl detective Veronica Mars will regale viewers with tinted flashbacks and dry wit once more, courtesy of the show’s fans. Creator of the Veronica Mars series, Rob Thomas, joined forces with the principal actress, Kristen Bell, to launch the largest Kickstarter in the history of the crowdfunding site, which allows creative projects to garner monetary support from fans. After six years off the air and several appeals to Warner Brothers to sponsor a film adaptation, this fan fever dream has finally become a reality thanks to Kickstarter.
The noir series following the life and times of the cynical Veronica Mars as she navigates high school and college in balance with a private investigations business on the side was cancelled after two seasons on UPN and one season on its successor, the CW Network. Veronica Mars (Bell) attends high school in a wealthy part of California, the fictional Neptune. Veronica’s father is a disgraced sheriff-turned-private-investigator, and he and Veronica both try to solve the murder of Veronica’s best friend, Lilly Kane (Amanda Seyfried). Each season follows a different mystery arc as Veronica progresses through high school and eventually college. A trailer for a fourth season was created, showing Veronica as a rookie FBI officer, but the season was not picked up.

The Veronica Mars Movie Kickstarter, launched on March 13, was quickly picked up, however, and promoted by various entertainment websites who had not forgotten their favorite girl detective. The Kickstarter page for the project showed a short promotion filmed back in February featuring the show’s principal characters, or actors, depending on how attached you are to the Mars universe. The short piece highlighted the actors’ desire to get the gang back together again and asked fans to help. In the past, Veronica Mars fans have launched websites and sent Mars bars to Warner Brothers in various efforts to get a movie made. With the aid of the Kickstarter project, the Veronica Mars movie reached its enormous goal in just 10 hours and has since surpassed the mark.

The fervor surrounding the Kickstarter project proved fans were capable of funding a movie they wanted, but it also raised some ethical questions from observers. For donating to the project, “backers” received a variety of different gifts based on the level of their generosity, including PDFs of the script, set visits, and having Kristen or Rob follow them on Twitter for a whole year. While some backers could receive tickets to the premier, most will still have to buy tickets once the movie is released. Some critics felt the project was a flagrant misuse of the crowdfunding site as the fans are pouring money into a project they won’t be true investors in. For example, Veronica Mars movie profits will not be coming back to the fans that made it possible but will be going to the actors and studio instead.
The success of the project had heads quickly swiveling back to other beloved, cancelled series. First up was Joss Whedon, fan of Veronica Mars and the creator of the western/sci-fi Firefly and accompanying movie, Serenity. Firefly only aired 14 episodes, but the vast universe spearheaded by Whedon had fans clamoring for more. Unfortunately, the network aired Firefly in the different order from Whedon’s original intention, which created confusion, and the show didn’t meet the network’s expectations in format or ratings. Whedon managed to finagle a cinematic conclusion, which went over well with fans, but was considered a box office flop. When approached about the possibility of bringing Firefly back with Kickstarter, Whedon acquiesced. With the upcoming Avengers sequel as well as the SHIELD television show, Whedon’s current contract with Marvel is keeping him much too busy for another project. Nevertheless, he feels “unfettered joy” regarding the imminence of a Veronica Mars movie and the creative way it came about.

Other showrunners were approached, including Pushing Daisies’ Bryan Fuller who has already gotten in touch with Rob Thomas to ask him about the Kickstarter process. On a more sour note, Josh Friedman of The Sarah Connor Chronicles tweeted “All u asking about a TSCC Kickstarter…rights situation, budget necessities, motivation of corporate entities make it HIGHLY unlikely…I think what u got is what you got.” Shows like Pushing Daisies and Chuck have much higher estimated costs than Veronica Mars, so the Kickstarter possibilities for such shows are a little farther off.

Hopes are high, but a lot of pieces have to fall into place for a mainstream studio and crowd-funded movie to happen. Besides the fan involvement, Veronica Mars boasts a highly supportive cast ready to get back into the universe Rob Thomas created. Nevertheless, the Veronica Mars Movie Kickstarter has opened a lot of doors for moviemakers and movie lovers alike.

Questions? Email Georgianna at gpisanog@fandm.edu.

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