Kickstarter has had many successfully funded projects, but the new Veronica Mars movie may be the biggest yet in the sense of how much attention it has received.
It seems video games and odd little niche products have had a ton of success on crowd funding site Kickstarter, but when it was announced last year that a film for a canceled television series was going to enter the fray, no one quite knew what to think. Veronica Mars ran for three seasons on UPN – and finally The CW after the network changed its name – and was then canceled due to low ratings. Since 2007 fans have clamored for a film follow-up, but Warner Brothers, which owned the film rights, wasn’t that interested. Rob Thomas, creator of the series, finally asked the WB if it would greenlight the film if he came up with $2 million of the budget from fans as a way to show the studio the interest was out there. The studio agreed and the Kickstarter was born.
Once it launched, and the goal was set at $2 million, the film reached that milestone in under 24 hours and kept climbing. It ended its campaign with 91,585 backers and $5,702,153 in its coffers before Kickstarter fees. As a backer of the project myself – despite having never seen even one episode of the television series – I can tell you Thomas has kept everyone well informed of every step in the production. Two days ago he sent out the 87th update on the project’s page, so there was never a time where you thought, “I wonder how this is going.”
The film is in theaters today, although not through the normal means. As the Kickstarter promised backers of certain levels they would receive a digital copy of the film today, Warner Brothers actually had to rent screens from various AMC locations as theaters want a certain amount of time between theatrical and home releases.
As for why someone such as myself would back a film he has very little interest in watching, it was the concept that intrigued me. I am a lover of films, and the idea that something like Kickstarter could democratize the process really got me interested. Veronica Mars is very much a film that would not have been made without the crowd funding, and the concept was to be applauded. Sadly, it now appears the system is being somewhat abused. People such as Zach Braff and Spike Lee have started using it as well, which is their right, but they are people who could come up with the money via other means. Veronica Mars absolutely had to have these funds for this film to become a reality. And hopefully down the road we will see more of that happening, and not just big names using the system.
Veronica Mars very well could represent a turning point in Hollywood depending on how it performs. Big box office is not expected, but between what it does in theaters, and via digital and physical media at home, it will be closely watched by every studio. This could be the definite beginning of something new in the world of film making, and something that could have never been really executed before the likes of Kickstarter came along.
So, congrats to everyone involved in the making of Veronica Mars, and kudos to all of the project backers. You may not yet realize it, but you may have just changed Hollywood as we know it.