In just 11 hours yesterday, fans of the short-lived cult hit TV drama Veronica Mars rallied around their beloved series to raise $2 million to finance a movie follow-up via a Kickstarter campaign started by creator Rob Thomas and star Kristen Bell. The project broke Kickstarter’s funding record and not only reached but exceeded its initial $2 million goal in no time at all. As of this writing, over 45,000 people have contributed over $2.7 million to the movie, making it an overwhelming instant success. Something like this has never been done before, but will it be done again? Will this change how movies get funded and bring more cult TV shows back from the dead? And what about original projects from beloved writers and actors?
Now that the Veronica Mars Kickstarter is a success (and becoming more and more successful by the minute), it’d be no surprise if the makers of other cult shows attempt to follow in its footsteps. Men of a Certain Age co-creator Mike Royce and Terriers producer Shawn Ryan each expressed interest over Twitter in using Kickstarter to fund finale films for their unjustly-axed shows, but the obvious choice here is to fund the Party Down movie this way. Like Veronica Mars, Party Down was produced and co-created by Rob Thomas, and it has a fervent fanbase. Cast member Megan Mullally said last summer that the movie already has funding, but a Kickstarter project could be the key to getting the movie through Hollywood’s grueling development process and demonstrating that there is still plenty of interest from fans.
While this is the first TV show to be resurrected via Kickstarter, there’s room for original projects to be funded this way too. Sure, it’ll be just as hard for unknown or lesser-known filmmakers to get their stuff funded, but Veronica Mars’ success has made it more acceptable for established creators to use the service (and to get results there). Dan Harmon, Charlie Kaufman, and Dino Stamatopoulos already used Kickstarter last year to raise $400,000 for their stop-motion movie Anomalisa, and hopefully, others will follow in their footsteps with original works that aren’t based on beloved TV shows. Who wouldn’t love to see Louis C.K. use Kickstarter to fund a movie? He’s shown a fondness for this sort of thing when he pioneered selling his stand-up special to fans for five bucks, and he certainly has the fanbase to raise at least a few million dollars.
But if there’s such a demand for a Veronica Mars movie, then why isn’t the studio willing to pay for it? Several prominent journalists have expressed how dangerous it is for fans to pay for a movie that Warner Bros. will reap all the profits from and how this could set a nasty precedent, but Veronica Mars meeting its goal is largely based on fans’ enthusiasm for the series. There are only so many shows like Veronica Mars and Party Down and only so many creators like Louis C.K. who have devoted fanbases but aren’t pulling in the Adam Sandler-sized audiences that get investors and studios gung-ho on their new projects. Despite the fact that fans’ enthusiasm for Veronica Mars is leading them to fund a movie on the behalf of a giant corporation that will reap all of the profits, this is ultimately a good thing for entertainment enthusiasts who want to see stuff they’re excited get made that otherwise wouldn’t. With Enlightened and Community on the verge of cancelation, it’d be amazing if Mike White and Dan Harmon could manage to use Kickstarter to wrangle up funds for the finale films those shows deserve. Great TV shows will continue to be canceled, but thanks to Netflix and Kickstarter, there’s now life after cancellation.