So it looks like Kickstarter has breathed some new life into the cancelled non-genre show Veronica Mars (which some genre fans may have a soft spot for). Series creator Rob Thomas (who’s also responsible for the cult favorite Cupid) got the show’s star Kristen Bell (who we know from Heroes) onboard and worked out a plan for a low-budget movie, and Warner Bros (who owns the property) agreed to promote it if he could raise two million dollars for the production costs. He then started up a Kickstarter campaign and they have gone well beyond the goal in only a couple days with over three million pledged as of this writing (and set Hollywood abuzz in the process). That’s surprisingly proved a pretty successful way of energizing the fanbase and Chuck‘s Zachary Levi has already gone to Twitter to hint that a similar effort could lead to a movie spin-off from that series.
So is this the newest way for fans to keep their beloved shows alive after the networks callously boot them off the Prime Time schedule?
Possibly, but it won’t work in all cases.
The important thing to note about the Veronica Mars campaign is that it was initiated by the show’s creator with the series star onboard and the studio agreeing to work with them if they raised the money. If a bunch of fans get together a Kickstarter campaign to finance something like a Firefly or Jericho movie, that doesn’t mean much if they do it independent of the creators, cast, and studios that need to be involved. They can raise money all they want, but if they don’t have the right people onboard–which would definitely be a challenge with a show like the two mentioned–they are basically wasting their time.
And then there’s the question of how much money is needed. Rob Thomas targeted two million–he’s getting more–and already had a story in mind that he could bring together on that limited budget. But two million is about the budget of a single one hour television episode, and it’s actually on the low side for what the broadcast networks typically spend. Doing a movie on that money, especially for a show that relies heavily on special effects like Firefly or has a sizable cast like Jericho would be rather tight. Sure, you can up the ante to four million or more, but that’s peanuts when it comes to the budget of a big screen production. It could be targeted as a TV movie or direct to DVD release, but then you still have the challenge of rounding up everybody who needs to be involved.
Fans should temper there efforts at this point and wait to see if some of the creators or stars try to follow Rob Thomas’ lead and try to make something happen with their shows. It sounds like there could be some movement with a Chuck movie, and Bryan Fuller has already started talking about the possibility of a Pushing Daisies movie. Could Josh Friedman take a stab at a Sarah Connor Chronicles wrap up? These would depend on getting the casts back together and they would almost certainly be one-off movies (it’s just not feasible to continue a series on this type of funding). But the success of Veronica Mars definitely suggests that this is a viable way for fans to get some sort of resolution when their show gets cancelled or at least one more visit with their favorite characters. You know that Chuck fans are probably already chomping at the bit after Levi’s twitter comment. And expect fans of Firefly, Jericho, Sarah Connor Chronicles, Legend of the Seeker and more to star coming out of the woodworks. It will be interesting to monitor the fall out from this in the coming months.
BleedingCool.com: Joss Whedon Explains Why He Isn’t Kickstarting Firefly… Yet
Blastr.com: 8 sci-fi series we wish would use Kickstarter to come back to TV
Why Were They Cancelled?
The Plight of Science Fiction and Fantasy Television in the Face of the Unforgiving Nielsens and Networks
Ever wondered why your favorite science fiction and/or fantasy show disappeared from the television schedule, never to deliver anymore new episodes? The reason why, most likely, is that it was cancelled because its ratings were low. And this book looks at those many cancelled sci fi/fantasy shows as well as the Neilsen ratings and television networks that dictate their fates. Available now for only $2.99 on Kindle from Amazon.com.