Cult TV show Veronica Mars set a new precedent for cancelled TV shows. It all started with Family Guy, coming back from cancellation due to strong DVD sales so many years ago. Now, they have taken it a step further, using social media to bring the once-cancelled teenage detective show (starring Kristen Bell) back to life as a feature film. Using Kickstarter, show creator Rob Thomas has resurrected the show by offering the opportunity to see it made directly to the fans.
Announcing that he needed $2 million to make the film, fans quickly poured money in to see the movie made, setting Kickstarter records along the way, with fastest project to reach $1 million, and vastly exceeding expectations with $3.6 million pledged so far, with 25 days still to go. The show kick-started (sorry, had to do it) the career of Kristen Bell, who has gone on to do bigger projects and become a star in her own right, and now it will be returning.
The move surprised a lot of industry experts, because traditionally, studios thought there wasn’t enough interest to see the project come to life. However, fans stepped up and showed they’re willing to put their money with their mouths are and ponied up with production costs and a considerable amount more. Since the funding came through, the project was given an official green-light, and others have taken notice.
People like Shawn Ryan, creator of the great-but-cancelled Terriers, believe they might be able to find a second life for their shows in movie form if the fans are really willing to come up with the cash that studios won’t give them. With fans paying directly for the movie, there is no risk for the studios, and very little creative control can be exerted over the creators.
Pushing Daisies and Wonderfalls creator Bryan Fuller says he might try the Kickstarter route for either of his two cancelled creations that didn’t get enough ratings to warrant renewal on TV. This might be the beginning of a new era, where fan demand has an actual cash voice, and if that voice is loud enough, we could see the resurrection of plenty of other shows with dedicated followings that just didn’t do well in a weekly time slot via movies. And there is no end in sight for those that reach their funding goals, if fans are willing to keep paying, we could see multiple movies for some of these shows, depending on how badly the fans want to see their favorite characters romp in their worlds once again.
I personally would donate to a Terriers movie, and while I wasn’t a big fan of Veronica Mars, I’m glad it has opened up the opportunity for other shows that were thought to be lost to cancellation. While TV remains a viciously competitive format, feature films are a little more lax as they don’t depend on weekly ratings to stay alive. Especially without any financial risk, studios will jump behind these projects as fast as fans put the money up for them.
This is a great new development in the ever-evolving world of social media, where entertainment created based on demand of the masses (or few that are willing to pay a lot), rather than hampered by the few executives that either don’t get it, or aren’t willing to take a chance on it. Some are upset that Kickstarter is being used by a faction other than indie filmmakers, feeling it it missing the point of the site, but I feel like this is a new evolution in the way the site can be used, since established properties have a leg up due to previous mass exposure. I’m curious to see how this new method of funding continues to work for shows and movie franchises we thought were long dead.