In case you haven’t heard about it over the last year or so, Veronica Mars, the TV show that was on UPN/the CW for 3 seasons 2004-2007, used a Kickstarter campaign to fund a movie that is going to be released later this week. Let me start by saying that I never watched the show when it was on the air. I don’t think I had really ever heard much about it or knew what it was. After hearing about the Kickstarter campaign and learning a little bit about the show, I decided I might as well watch the show and see what all the fuss was about. It turns out that the show is really awesome, and I ended up burning through all 3 seasons in about a week. The premise of the show is that Kristen Bell plays Veronica, a teenager in a small town called Neptune, California. The town is very class divided with the billionaire movie stars, record producers, and Fortune 500 CEOs on one side and the people that work for them (maids, butlers, secretaries, etc.) on the other. Veronica’s father, Keith Mars, is the former sheriff who was ousted from office after accusing a prominent citizen of murdering his own daughter (this is central to the main plot arc that stretches over the entire first season). Now Keith is a private detective and Veronica works part time helping her father with his cases. Veronica is a very smart girl who goes through all of the typical drama that goes along with high school (which is of course magnified by all the class division), but she also spends some nights staking out seedy motels taking surveillance pictures for cases as well as occasionally doing some sleuthing for some of her classmates. The thing that I think I like most about the show is that the writing is very intelligent and it doesn’t talk down to its viewers. To sum it up, the show is really great and deserves a movie, but after hearing about the Kickstarter campaign and doing a little research, I decided that it doesn’t matter what the show was about or even if I like the movie. I want this movie to succeed.
Apparently, Rob Thomas, the creator of the show, has been trying to make this movie ever since the show was cancelled in 2007, but no studio would give them the money to make it. Finally, he, Kristen Bell, and the rest of the cast decided that they would just crowd-fund the movie. Warner Brothers told them that if the crowd-funding campaign made their goal of $2 million then they would distribute the film. Not only did it make it’s goal of $2 million, but it broke that goal in less than 10 hours after going live. It went on to make nearly $6 million and broke nearly every record that Kickstarter had for the film category.
There have been several successful crowd funding campaigns over the last few years. I recently contributed to the campaign for season 3 of the web show “Video Game High School” by Freddie Wong, which has had all 3 of it’s seasons largely funded through crowd-funding. However, to my knowledge there has never been a movie that was funded through crowd-funding and then went on to become a box office hit. The Veronica Mars movie seems poised to do that. It already has a built-in loyal fan base from the TV show. It also won the MTV Movie Brawl fan vote for most anticipated movie of 2014 (beating several big time movies like Amazing Spiderman 2 and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part I). That alone makes this movie a trailblazer that could change the way people go about making and marketing movies, but there’s more. Advertisement for the movie is being done entirely online. There haven’t been any billboard or TV spots for the movie. The movie is also being released nation-wide in mostly AMC theaters on 270 screens, but they are also simultaneously releasing the movie through most Video-On-Demand services. So, even is you don’t live near one of the 270 theaters where it will be showing, you can still contribute to the movie’s success by buying it on demand.
The fact that Warner Brothers and AMC are both willing to try this experiment that has never really been done before (at least not for anything other than low grade B movies), might mean that the film industry is finally realizing that the internet and the “global community” that it has created can actually be used to find out what people want and deliver quality content to the people that want it instead of just producing big budget films that appeal to the lowest common denominator. Maybe the film industry is realizing this faster than the music industry did.
The movie will be released on March 14, so you have a couple days to watch the TV show and prepare yourself. You can find all 3 of the seasons on Amazon Prime. If you don’t have Amazon Prime, sign up for a free month trial.