‘Veronica Mars’ Is Back! Fundraising Campaign Raises $2.7 Million and Counting

Mark Deming
Movie Talk

Fans of the long-cancelled television series "Veronica Mars" have spoken with their wallets, and the show will be getting a second life on the big screen.

On Monday, the creator of the long-cancelled cult favorite show, Rob Thomas, launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $2 million to finally get the long-talked-about project off the ground, with star Kristen Bell and much of the original cast committing to the project if it was financed. The response was immediate and enthusiastic: within four hours, over $1 has been pledged towards the project, and the campaign had exceeded its goal eight hours later. With finding in place, shooting is expected to take place this summer.

In an e-mail message sent to contributors, Thomas said, "Holy cow, what a day. As of 4 a.m. CT, we’re just over $2.5M dollars. We couldn’t be happier. We really couldn’t. My wife says I’m insufferable, but she said that four days ago in anticipation of a day like today."

Kristen Bell also took to her Twitter account to thank her fans, posting:

Pledges are still coming in, and Thomas has said he’s working on a system that would allow fans outside of North America to contribute. The campaign has been offering some impressive swag for fans helping to finance the project, with premiums ranging from copies of the script and DVD/Blu-Ray packages of the final product to bit parts in the film (with dialogue) and an outgoing answering machine message from Bell ("within the bounds of good taste," so don’t expect her to get too nasty for only $500). Significantly, the bonuses for pledges of $500 and up have all been taken as of midday Thursday, though Thomas has also announced he may be offering more premiums, as fundraising will continue until April 12.

While Thomas’s $2 million budget is covered, he’s hoping that the fans will allow him the extra funds to make the long-awaited movie something special. "Keep in mind that the more money we raise, the cooler movie we can make," Thomas wrote. "A two million dollar fundraising total probably means cross words are exchanged at the class reunion. Three million? We can afford a full-on brawl. Ten million? Who knows... For some reason the Neptune High class reunion takes place on a nuclear submarine! A Hobbit shows up! There’s a Bollywood end-credit dance number! I’ve always wanted to direct Bill Murray. We’ll figure out something cool."

While Thomas is handling the financing through Kickstarter and overseeing production, Warner Bros., who owns the rights to the show, will support the finished film through distribution, marketing and legal support.

On "The Veronica Mars Movie Project" page, fans are greeted with a video in which Bell discovers Jason Dohring (who played Logan Echolls), Ryan Hansen (Dick Casablancas), and Enrico Colantoni (Keith Mars) are hanging out at Bell’s house, with Colantoni still stuck in character five years after the show went off the air. Thomas, who is working hand puppets in the background, comes up with the idea of turning to the fans for one last chance at making a "Veronica Mars" theatrical feature.

Elsewhere on the page, Thomas makes his pitch, saying he became aware of Kickstarter when Cotton Mather, a band whose music was used on the show, raised the cash to make an album through the crowd-sourcing website. While not all details on the script have been revealed, Thomas has let slip that the action will take part during the ten-year reunion of Veronica’s class at Neptune High, with most of the original characters on board.

Debuting in 2004, "Veronica Mars" followed the adventures of a pretty high school (and later college) student who solves mysteries in her spare time. While the show earned enthusiastic reviews and a devoted fan following, UPN and CW, the two networks that aired the show, seemed unsure how to promote it, and it never fared well in the ratings, ending its run in 2007. But Thomas discussed the possibility of making a "Veronica Mars" feature film at a number of fan events over the years, and thanks to Kickstarter, we will see Ms. Mars back in action before too long.