Is the 'Veronica Mars' Kickstarter a One-Hit Wonder?
The beloved, short-lived drama Veronica Mars created history—and debate—this week when its creator and star quickly funded a follow-up movie using Kickstarter.
The beloved, short-lived drama Veronica Mars created history—and debate—this week when its creator and star quickly funded a follow-up movie using Kickstarter. Now Hollywood is scratching its head as the teams of other cherished, but canceled, shows start discussing the possibility.
One of the most vocally interested parties has been creator of Pushing Daisies, Bryan Fuller. Pushing Daisies, for those of you who might have forgotten, was an adorable, high concept show on ABC that only lasted two seasons. It followed the exploits of Ned, a pie maker who could wake the dead and his dead girlfriend Chuck. Fuller told The Hollywood Reporter: "When I saw [the campaign] online, I said to my agent immediately, 'Can we do this with Pushing Daisies or Wonderfalls?'" His agent told him he would need more than $2 million—Mars' goal—to make Pushing Daisies, a special effects heavy show with elaborate scenery that cost $3 million per episode. That said, clearly Fuller is intrigued. He added: "If I weren’t in Toronto finishing up on Hannibal, I’d be knocking on doors at Warner Brothers, asking, 'Is this a viable plan for Pushing Daisies?'" Vulture also noticed that in a HitFix interview with Mars' creator Rob Thomas, Thomas noted that he "did get an email from Bryan Fuller earlier today saying, 'Hey, can you jump on the phone with me at some point? I know you're busy, but I would love to talk to you about how this thing works.' And I know it was specifically for 'Pushing Daisies.'"
Other creators have tweeted their interest:
Very interested to see how this Veronica Mars kickstarter goes. Could be a model for a Terriers wrap up film.— Shawn Ryan (@ShawnRyanTV) March 13, 2013
This has most certainly gone thru my head RT @analogtransmit: Kickstarter for a MEN OF A CERTAIN AGE finale movie.cc @tvoti— Mike Royce (@MikeRoyce) March 14, 2013
Meanwhile, Joss Whedon, who is now embedded with Marvel and Disney, shot down hopes of any sort of Firefly reboot. Firefly has become something of gem in Whedon's canon, and already made the leap from prematurely canceled show to movie with 2005's Serenity. BuzzFeed's Adam B. Vary talked to Whedon who said that he loves Veronica Mars and thought the Kickstarter was an "an awesome and ballsy move," but added that right now when it comes to Firefly "it's a complete non-Kickstarter for me."
But even with interest from fans and creators, the question remains can the model work for other projects? John Rodgers of Leverage told Rebecca Sun of The Hollywood Reporter that he's wary of ascribing too much influence to the Veronica Mars project: "I don’t like to read big changes off a single incident," he said, adding some hope: "but I will say this may convince a studio to allow small margin expansions on existing intellectual property…. Rob Thomas is saying, 'I’ve mitigated the risk and brought in the audience.'" Dorothy Pomeranz at Forbes explained that Mars was a special case:
There was already a script and all of the players (including big name star Kristen Bell) were already on board. There was also already a distributor in place, a rarity these days for any independent project.
There's also the question of just how much money a project would need. Like a Pushing Daisies project, a spinoff of Whedon's Firefly, a space western, would take a lot more money to produce than Veronica Mars. Whedon said that with Veronica Mars: "We come to Veronica Mars to hear her talk and hear her father talk."
Alan Sepinwall, who elaborates on a number of these arguments in a piece for HitFix also adds that Mars had the benefit of charting new territory:
...simply by going first, the "Veronica Mars" movie gets to benefit not only from the love of fans of the show, but from the interest of people who like the idea of crowdfunding, and of people who want to see this one succeed so that their favorite might have a shot down the road.
Thomas, himself, is more enthusiastic about the future of the model. He said in the HitFix interview with Sepinwall that "that Warner Bros. isn't treating 'Veronica Mars' like a one-off. I think they're treating us like a guinea pig — in the best way." That's good news for Pushing Daisies, also produced by Warner Bros., but we're not holding our breath. Even though people like Fuller are being vocal about their interests in using Kickstarter to bring back deceased properties, unlike the show's female lead, Pushing Daisies might stay dead.