A movie version of the hit TV show Veronica Mars has been in the works for a long, long time now, with no luck finding a way to make it a reality.
And so creator Rob Thomas turned to the same place so many others have turned: Kickstarter.
Crowdfunding has become the answer for many to make the games and movies and other things they’ve not been able to make otherwise, and Veronica Mars is without question the biggest title to give the website a try. Thomas also set the biggest goal that’s ever been set for a movie Kickstarter campaign—a whopping $2 million—which really put to the test just how useful crowdfunding could be…and passed in stunning fashion.
Here’s Thomas’s full pitch, where he talks about the other attempts at making the movie happen, hearing about Kickstarter, trying to figure out how much they would need, and also making sure that Warner Brothers would even allow him to try it and that star Kristen Bell and others would do it cheap/free:
Almost since Veronica Mars went off the air, there’s been talk of making a movie. In that span, I’ve taken different tactics in dealing with the question of whether it might happen. To be clear, I’ve always wanted to make a Veronica Mars movie. I love writing these characters and working with these actors. Kristen Bell has always wanted to make the movie.
There was a moment, a few years ago, when we thought we had a real shot at making it happen. I developed a pitch that revolved around graduation day at Hearst college — Wallace and Mac were graduating at least, Veronica had been sidetracked by freeing Keith from prison. Plus, there was a murder in Neptune that was affecting the beach city’s spring break business in much the same way a great white shark affected the beach community of Amity. 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.
I first found out about Kickstarter a couple of years ago from an Austin musician friend of mine — Robert Harrison, lead singer of Cotton Mather, the band that gave us “Lily Dreams On,” our closing song of season 1. He financed a rerelease of the band’s fantastic Kontiki album. Later, I was marveling about Kickstarter with another buddy of mine who said off-handedly, “You should use Kickstarter to raise the money to make the Veronica Mars movie.” I chuckled. That seemed like a silly idea in the moment. We’d need millions. But for the next few weeks, the notion was never far from my mind. I started doing the proverbial back-of-a-cocktail-napkin math. The average pledge on Kickstarter is $71. Hell, if we could get 30,000 people to give the average donation, we could finance the movie, particularly if the cast and I were willing to work cheap. The most common donation amount on Kickstarter is $25. Surely, 80,000 of our three million viewers would find that price-point viable!
Of course, Warner Bros. still owns Veronica Mars and we would need their blessing and cooperation to pull this off. Kristen and I met with the Warner Bros. brass, and they agreed to allow us to take this shot. They were extremely cool about it, as a matter of fact. Their reaction was, if you can show there’s enough fan interest to warrant a movie, we’re on board. So this is it. This is our shot. I believe it’s the only one we’ve got. It’s nerve-wracking. 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.
Life has taken Veronica away from Neptune. In the years since spoiling Keith’s chances to be reelected sheriff, Veronica hasn’t taken a case. But something big is about to bring her back home and back to her calling. My goal is to include as many of your favorite characters as possible. It is, after all, time for Veronica’s 10-year high school reunion. Keep in mind that the more money we raise, the cooler movie we can make. A two million dollar fundraising total probably means cross words are exchanged at the class reunion. Three million? We can afford a full-on brawl. Ten million? Who knows… For some reason the Neptune High class reunion takes place on a nuclear submarine! A Hobbit shows up! There’s a Bollywood end-credit dance number! I’ve always wanted to direct Bill Murray. We’ll figure out something cool. Hey, if that total goes high enough, I’ll bet the good folks at Warner Bros. will agree a sequel is a good idea.
Thanks to everyone who hasn’t lost faith.
Not only did WB give them the go-ahead and was everyone willing to do it on the cheap, but just a few hours after the project hit Kickstarter, it had made the first million dollars. In about a half of one day, the $2 million was was already fully pledged. Since then, the money has continued growing, currently moving toward $2.5 million.
So now the only question is how much coin Veronica Mars will have to work with when they start making the movie this summer for that planned early-2014 release. $2 million is a lot of money, but it’s also very little in the world of movie budgets.
If the final total is a massive amount, this particular Kickstarter campaign opens a lot of very interesting doors. TV shows fans have been begging to get back since a premature cancellation may give it a try. Movies we never thought we’d see that don’t require massive budgets could decide to take a shot in the dark. Even bigger video games than the ones we often see on the site could realize it’s possible to hit larger goals.
Are you excited that a Veronica Mars movie is finally being made? What other things do you want to see try the Kickstarter route?
All three seasons of Veronica Mars are available now on DVD:
Veronica Mars: The Complete First Season
Veronica Mars: The Complete Second Season
Veronica Mars: The Complete Third Season