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Digesting the lowest rung of pop culture so you don't have to!
Making news all across the internet the past few days is that cancelled cult TV show Veronica Mars is getting a movie after creator Rob Thomas created a Kickstarter campaign to fund the project. Within one day, the campaign reached its two million dollar goal, and as of this writing, over three million dollars have been pledged from over fifty thousand backers. Twenty-eight days remain in the campaign.
Something like this has never been done before and some theorize this might just be a one-hit wonder. However, that has not stopped bloggers from annoyingly wondering what other cult favorite shows will be resurrected though Kickstarter.
I have a couple issues with this whole thing. Clearly, this is a passion project for Thomas and star Kristen Bell (who, let’s face it, has not done anything all that worthwhile since Veronica Mars), and I get why they want to return to the property. But the show was cancelled. Rating were awful. How big of a need is there? The show ended with a thematic conclusion. Do we need more?
I suppose my questionable attitude towards this is that so much time has passed since the show, so what would be the point? I feel that the film might come off as one of those reunion specials that once-popular TV shows occasionally have. It never feels natural, is rarely enough like the show people remembered, and usually is missing half the original cast to begin with.
I do not want to come off as an arrogant d-bag, but I just do not see how this can be pulled off narratively and still retain the “magic” of the original show. Sometimes it is better to just to let it go. I was a fan of Veronica Mars and would love to be proven wrong.
While I will have to wait until declaring judgment on the movie’s story, I am wondering how Thomas is going to pull off the production. Judging by how things are stated in the Kickstarter, it does not add up. The projected release date is February/March 2014. That is roughly a year away. In most cases, that is plenty of time to get it done. That is, if they start right now. I am going to assume that they have a script (which, from the Kickstarter description, is unlikely), but the film still needs a director, actors (beyond the leads), a whole production team, sets, location securement, etc. I would say that in most cases, a producer cannot just call up and get all these things on the spot. Now, this is not impossible to do this, but it is going to be extremely tight to get this released by the projected date.
Another complication which, to my knowledge, has not been brought up yet is the fact that Kristin Bell is pregnant. According to gossip rag rumors, she is due in late spring. How will this affect filming? I assume they will delay filming until after Bell gives birth. Does that mean a summer filming start? If so, that still gives this movie an incredibly tight schedule. My point here is I am just surprised that Thomas did not give a later target date (October 2014 for example) to give himself more of a window.
After doing some loose research, I discovered that the average cost of an episode of Veronica Mars was about two million dollars – the same price of the Kickstarter goal. Granted, they have surpassed that goal and will likely raise a whole lot more before this campaign is over, but I do wonder what kind of movie Thomas was hoping to make?
Keep in mind this is intended to be a theatrical release. You cannot just throw something with the production values of a TV episode on the big screen and expect that to fly. It will look cheap, and the film will suffer for it. I almost wonder if a Veronica Mars movie would be better if it was a direct-to-DVD release instead of theatrical.
I also really question the logic of making a movie based on the desires of a vocal cult following. Regardless of quality, those types of projects rarely turn any sort of profit (see Serenity). However, this proposed Veronica Mars film different. Since the movie’s budget will likely be completely funded by donations, Warner Bros. will not have to spend a dollar on it (besides marketing, maybe). If that ends up being the case, the film will be mostly profit from WB’s point of view. They are not really taking any risk because it is not their money being gambled. They have nothing to lose in a Veronica Mars movie. This is a mindboggling scenario, and I can only imagine movie producers number crunching right now so they can replicate this down the line for bigger projects.
There is also the issue of the “rewards” that Thomas promises to backers which has all sorts of potential problems attached to it. This article here really goes into it better than I ever could.
Finally, and this is the biggest sticking point for me, the film has earned over three million dollars. 271 of the backers agreed to pledge over $1000 (with one pledging ten thousand). I really hope these people donate large sums to charity each year. In a world where we have large issues with hunger, disease, and poverty, would not money donated to those causes do more good than the selfish need for a continuation movie of some old TV show? Especially when large amounts of money are plunked down in one sitting? I do not want to sound holier-than-thou, but this is something I cannot help, but consider.
Maybe I am completely wrong about all of this. This just seems like such a terrible precedent to set. I am very curious to see how this will ultimately play out. If Veronica Mars: The Movie somehow turns into a massive success, what will that mean for future movie projects? Will studios turn to donations for smaller projects such as this? Doubtful, but who knows?