You choose, we deliver
If you are interested in this story, you might be interested in others from The Journal Gazette. Go to www.journalgazette.net/newsletter and pick the subjects you care most about. We'll deliver your customized daily news report at 3 a.m. Fort Wayne time, right to your email.

Movies

  • Some directors just keep on rolling
    Visiting a retired Frank Capra at his Sierra Nevada hideaway, Clint Eastwood was baffled.“I always thought: ‘He could be making a film right now. He’s as lucid as could be. Here̵ ...
  • Don't waste brain power thinking on plot
    'Lucy'So let's start with the enticing premise of Luc Besson's “Lucy,” starring Scarlett Johansson: Human beings use only 10 percent of their brain capacity. Imagin ...
  • Levine draws from life in indie ‘Begin Again’
    Adam Levine knows pop stars-turned-actors are greeted suspiciously. And he’s hesitant to make any grandiose declarations about suddenly transforming into an actor. But he also can’t help himself.
Advertisement

Mars’ success spurs copycat efforts

– After years of hope, stalled efforts and studio frustration, “Veronica Mars” creator Rob Thomas watched a long-held dream come to fruition in a sudden digital rush.

“There were a few minutes of nothing happening,” he says. “Then in an hour, watching that ticker go was mesmerizing. I had an attention span of, like, four seconds because everything on my computer screen I wanted to look at at the same time. The Twitter feed was going crazy, the emails were going crazy and then watching that Kickstarter total go up.”

Thomas last week launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund a movie of his cult TV show, which was canceled after three seasons in 2007. It met its stated goal of raising $2 million in less than 11 hours, meaning it would be greenlit to begin shooting this summer. It’s surpassed $3.7 million with more than two weeks still to go.

The resounding, immediate success of the crowd-funding campaign sent shockwaves through the movie business. Films had found much-needed financial support on Kickstarter before, but “Veronica Mars” is different. It’s a studio project, owned by Warner Bros., which produced the show.

The money given by the fervent fans of “Veronica Mars,” which starred Kristen Bell as a teenage private eye, will go not to a filmmaker operating on his own, but one with the distribution and marketing muscle of a very large corporation – just one that hadn’t previously been convinced to bankroll a “Veronica Mars” film.

Were donating fans spurring a goliath to action, or its unwitting pawns?

The wide majority of “Veronica Mars” fans couldn’t care less. They will get the movie they craved, as well as the proud feeling of having played an essential role in the show’s resurrection.

Joss Whedon, whose devoted fanboy following is similar, if larger, than Thomas’, said that he reacted in “unfettered joy” at the “Veronica Mars” Kickstarter campaign. But Whedon, who realizes he’ll now be hounded to follow suit with another movie of his canceled cult TV series “Firefly,” acknowledged some trepidation about the financial arrangement for fans.

“I understand that it feels not as pure, and that the presence of a studio makes it disingenuous somehow,” Whedon told BuzzFeed. “But people clearly understood what was happening and just wanted to see more of the thing they love. To give them that opportunity doesn’t feel wrong. If it was a truly wrong move, I don’t think it would have worked.”

Many are already seeing new potential to capitalize on small but dedicated fan support. Shawn Ryan, whose FX drama “Terriers” was canceled in 2010 after one season, tweeted that he was “very interested” in the “Veronica Mars” Kickstarter campaign. “Could be a model for a ‘Terriers’ wrap up film,” he said.

Thomas also co-created another canceled show – the Starz cult comedy “Party Down” – that may be reborn as a film. He’s still hopeful that will happen, but says funding is already lining up more traditionally.

In the meantime, he’s hoping the Kickstarter contributions keep coming. More money means being able to shoot in Southern California (where the show was set) and gradual boosts in production value. The screenplay, of which he has 37 pages written, features a 10-year high school reunion for Mars’ Neptune High – a gathering that will include inevitable strife.

It already promises to be a different kind of filmmaking experience. He’ll have 100-plus Kickstarter contributors to use as extras. A documentary on the making of the movie has begun tracking Thomas with cameras. And the production schedule has been built to include two days purely for Thomas, Bell and others to sign the thousands of movie posters and other items they’ve promised their Kickstarter backers.

Advertisement