That Veronica Mars Kickstarter campaign was no joke. Within 10 hours, fans of plucky-blonde sleuthing and crowd-funded entertainment had met the $2 million goal of the campaign, some 29-plus days earlier than the imposed deadline.
Which leaves just that many days to raise even more money, presumably to the point where series creator Rob Thomas can afford that subplot where Veronica tracks down a lead in the Tron universe. Why are fans still pouring money in to a project that they know is already getting made? For the prizes, of course. As of Thursday morning, fans can still get a VM cast member to record their outgoing voice mail message ($350, Kristen Bell excluded; the Kristen Bell voice mails for $500 a pop have all sold out), signed movie posters, DVDs of the show, Blu-rays and scripts of the movie that does not yet exist there’s a LOT more money to be made here from a fan base that shows few signs their enthusiasm is waning. And if Corbin Bernsen is any indication (and when has he not been?), Hollywood folks are eager to get in on this crowdsourcing game. The former L.A. Law star pledged both his acting services for free, as well as “be any reward U want.” That’s what we call a license to print money.
So what happens now? According to the Kickstarter page’s FAQ, “All funds will go into a Veronica Mars Movie Project production account which has been set up by Warner Bros. on our behalf.” So it really does seem like Warner Brothers got the fans to cover their production costs, and depending on how much they decide to funnel into marketing and distribution (and at this point, why not just assume that the rabid Mars fan base will street-team this thing and wear sandwich boards and draw up their own posters and guerrilla market the film themselves), Warner Brothers will get some of whatever small profit the film generates. It sounds like a great system to me, if I’m a WB executive. You wonder if this will start to affect the way cult properties are treated in Hollywood. Why should the studios risk their own money on a project with a limited audience when they can get the fans to cover their investment beforehand?
For now, though, this all feels like rain on a parade, doesn’t it? Everybody’s so excited that the Kickstarter thing worked! Shawn Ryan is on Twitter, teasing out possibilities for a Terriers movie. Lord knows what the Community people will do with this (pledge $500 and Dan Harmon and Chevy Chase will personally berate each other on your front lawn!). Hitfix’s Alan Sepinwall did a decent job of explaining why fans should perhaps pump the brakes on thinking that any old show they love and miss would be able to reincarnate themselves this way. But you try dampening the enthusiasm of a Pushing Daisies fan who just got renewed hope that there might be life after cancellation. If nothing else, this Mars news means that fans believe they now have a recourse to the TV networks. As long as they can pledge enough cash.