Attention movie studios, Hollywood traditionalists and naysayers in general: never underestimate the power of a devoted fanbase.
Case in point: despite having ended its too-short, three-year television run in 2007, Veronica Mars seems well on its way to the big screen thanks to the still-rabid fans of the critically acclaimed cult hit mystery series.
Years after Warner Bros. first turned down show creator Rob Thomas' pitch to adapt his contemporary teen noir into a feature-length film, the producer decided to take his appeal to the masses.
On Wednesday, he posted a Kickstarter campaign with a goal to raise at least $2 million US in the next month. If the goal is met, shooting would begin this summer, he said (With Vancouver being a potential filming location).
As part of the initiative, the spunky Veronica Mars herself — actress Kristen Bell — joined Thomas and former co-stars Jason Dohring, Ryan Hansen and (Canadian!) Enrico Colantoni in a cute and quirky video appeal apparently filmed about a year ago.
If one needed proof of the miracles of crowd-source funding, look no further. Just hours into the Kickstarter campaign (as of 4 p.m. ET), nearly $1.2 million US was donated by approximately 17,000 backers (with those two figures still rising).
UPDATE: The campaign reached the initial $2-million US goal by evening and is growing past $2.5 million US as of Thursday morning.
'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.'— Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas
"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," Thomas wrote on the campaign site.
"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."
(Note: Warner Bros. Digital Distribution will kick off production as well as pay for marketing, promotion and distribution of the film for a limited theatrical run in early 2014, before moving it to video-on-demand and digital platforms.)
Bell, expecting her first child this spring with fiancé Dax Shepard, has updated fans about the campaign today via Twitter — at one point even quipping to her followers that "all this excitement is [probably] gonna send me into early [labour]."
The proposed film will return Bell's smart and sassy young P.I. character to her fictional California hometown of Neptune for her 10-year high school reunion. Thomas, who pledged to "include as many of [fans'] favourite characters as possible," also urged supporters to keep donations going beyond the $2-million total.
"A $2-million fundraising total probably means cross words are exchanged at the class reunion. $3 million? We can afford a full-on brawl. $10 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," he wrote.
"Hey, if that total goes high enough, I'll bet the good folks at Warner Bros. will agree a sequel is a good idea."
With the first Veronica Mars movie seemingly off to such a promising start, why not aim for the stars?
Check out the campaign site here.
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