Just as Star Wars fans spent weeks celebrating in the streets at the news that their beloved childhood franchise will return to theaters, so is another fan base breaking out the party hats this week…and, more importantly, their wallets.
In a first for a major-studio intellectual property, Warner Bros. has allowed producer/creator Rob Thomas to use the power of crowdfunding to extract Veronica Mars from mothballs and feature her in a major motion picture. Thomas launched a Kickstarter campaign less than 48 hours ago with a lofty goal of $2,000,000.00. As Thomas describes the conditional deal with Warner Bros.:
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.
Thomas worried for naught. Pledges from tens of thousands of fans reached that formidable goal in a record-setting, jaw-dropping twelve hours, leaving 29½ days for slower fans and curious bandwagon-jumpers to keep adding to the budget in hopes of upgrading the film from niche project to wide-release underdog, maybe even with action scenes and trained stuntmen. At the rate the pledges are accumulating, they’ll have enough money to set it in 2030 and equip Veronica and her dad with robot sidekicks.
Full disclosure: I was a fan of the show. If it plays here in town, I’ll be there opening weekend. I’m intrigued at the idea of Thomas, star Kristen Bell, and any willing cast members picking up the story of the town of Neptune where it left off, with everything going wrong both in Veronica’s life and with the third season’s uneven quality. Needless to say I have a list of demands percolating in my head for the new film.
But I can’t say I’ve kept a candlelight vigil all these years or lost sleep praying for the show to come back to me.
I was upset at the cancellation, but I understood the reality, as unfair as it seemed. I grieved and I moved on. TV brought us other shows to watch, a couple of them excellent. Movies past and present all did their thing. I found awesome, overlooked works from previous decades that deserved attention. The despondency faded. I didn’t become a slave to boredom.
Based on the reactions I’ve read from other folks, I wonder if I’m the only one who successfully clears all the stages of grief whenever a TV series is canceled.
Assuming that the stars align, the studio keeps their promises, and Rob Thomas isn’t evil, this experiment will have set a precedent for having a movie’s audience prepay first, and then going forth to make the movie. It’s a curious story with many possible morals to it; my favorite being the idea that sometimes we, the viewers at home, really don’t require all our movies to be $300 million blockbusters. Smaller films are nice sometimes, too. Remember those? Wouldn’t it be lovely if groups of us banded together and blessed those with our patronage?
Everyone else’s moral of choice seems to be, “Now Hollywood can bring back all my favorite dead shows!” Everything we love that’s old and discontinued can now be revived. If the original cast is still available, it can even be a continuation instead of a cold reboot with fresh, untested faces.
The fan wishlists have begun. Entertainment sites are wondering if the gates of TV Heaven will open wide and permit the escape of other series such as Chuck and Jericho that were denied the chance to last for as many seasons as The Simpsons. Rather than let them rest, the insistence is, “Every character I’ve seen in anything I ever liked, I want to see again and again and again and again and again and again and again!”
The poster child for this brand of fervor is, exactly as I predicted when I heard the news, Firefly. The Browncoats I know are positively giddy at the prospect of this radical shift in our reality paradigm. Again, full disclosure: I thought Firefly was one of the greatest TV things ever. I watched all the episodes that aired on Fox before the DVDs made it cool. Then I bought the DVDs to see the unaired episodes. Then I paid to see Serenity in theaters twice, no free advance screening for me. Then I bought that on DVD. Then I upgraded to the deluxe DVD. Then I upgraded to a Blu-ray copy. That’s how much I wanted to reward its existence. But I achieved closure with that universe. I liked that it ultimately completed a story arc with a beginning, a middle, and an end. If we never see Captain Reynolds and his crew in costume again, I trust I’ll remain emotionally well.
I’ll understand if everyone else begins letter-writing campaigns (or the modern equivalent — Twitter-flooding, maybe?) to insist that the stars and creators of such shows drop everything they’re doing, even if their current paychecks are excellent, and return to their old jobs in hopes of recapturing the old magic. If it works, great for them.
I don’t have a wishlist of a dozen series Hollywood needs to restart for my benefit. That kind of nostalgia strikes me in very, very limited doses. I don’t boycott such revivals, but I do look forward to seeing new universes from time to time, meeting new characters, and hearing new voices. Sometimes I’m even satisfied with single, self-contained books or movies that don’t lend themselves to entire series or merchandise lines. I realize I’m freakish in this respect.
I spent twelve years in the restaurant business before I switched career tracks. The list of advantages that my new job has over my old one would require an extended entry of its own. If I left my current job and retreated to the old one, my friends and family would feel sorry for me and wonder where I went wrong.
In Hollywood, people are not just congratulated for returning to their old jobs; they’re constantly petitioned to return to them. The entertainment industry seems peculiar that way.