$2 Million for ‘Veronica Mars’ Breaks Kickstarter Records, Gets Greenlight

Veronica Mars Crowd Sourceing

TV cult favorite is the first feature to hit the $1 million mark on the crowdfunding site, doubles that within hours

Here’s a Hollywood success story sure to kickstart a crowd of copycats: The “Veronica Mars” movie is getting made, thanks to a Kickstarter campaign that within hours of launching Wednesday became the fastest and largest capital raise in the short history of crowdfunding movies.

The project that’s been kicking around since the show ended its three-year run in 2007 streaked past $2 million in pledges before 6 p.m., smashing previous Kickstarter records and easily clearing the bar that Warner Bros. set to commit to a summer production start. Backed by creator Rob Thomas, star Kristen Bell and other castmembers, the “Veronica Mars” movie sailed past $1 million just four hours and 24 minutes after its Wednesday morning launch, making the TV cult favorite the first film project to come anywhere near that milestone.

And it never slowed down on its way to $2 million; anything thereafter will translate into production-quality gravy, Thomas said in his message on the Kickstarter site. Warner Bros., which owns the three-season skein that ran on UPN and the CW, agreed to let Thomas and the cast mount the last-ditch effort in a long-sputtering attempt to bring his snarking, modern-day Nancy Drew to the bigscreen. Studio plans a limited 2014 release with a VOD component.

The blistering pace of incoming coin surprised everyone involved with the project, which still has 29 days left to pad its budget. As with many Kickstarter efforts, producers laid out incentives for fans — who are not equity partners, ergo see no fiscal return — ranging from a PDF of the shooting script (pledges of $10 or more) to a speaking part in the film (the highest pledge of $10,000, which was promptly claimed). Other goodies include a T-shirt ($25 or more), Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack ($100) and signed posters ($200 or more).

As “Veronica Mars” speeds into production, it’s easy to imagine a clutch of similar efforts to adapt low-budget cult properties that never found financial backing. TV shows “Firefly,” “24” and “Arrested Development” (which Netflix is now rebooting for television) had all been kicked around as possible films. None went the Kickstarter route, but might soon reconsider. Thomas even acknowledged as much in his pitch to fans:

“This is our shot,” he wrote. “I believe it’s the only one we’ve got. It’s nerve-wracking. I suppose we could fail in spectacular fashion, but there’s also the chance that we completely revolutionize how projects like ours can get made. No Kickstarter project ever has set a goal this high. It’s up to you, the fans, now.”

Kickstarter’s previous record film or video fundraise came last month, when web series hit “Video Game High School: Season Two” pulled together $808,000. David Fincher’s animated project “The Goon” ranks next at $441,000, followed by Charlie Kaufman’s toon “Anomalisa” at $406,000 (all three are more than fully funded).

Videogames and gadget pitches have gone well over the million-dollar mark — a smart watch called Pebble, already over $10 milllion, is among the site’s biggest raises. But “Veronica Mars” was the fastest to $1 million among all types of projects.

Lending credibility to the pic, several original “Veronica Mars” cast members participated in a lighthearted promotional video about the project shot at Bell’s house and laced with “Veronica Mars”-toned humor. But the video also made it clear that if Kickstarter doesn’t work out, the movie is never getting made; adding to the pressure, the studio told Thomas that the crowdfunding effort would serve not only to back the film, but to demonstrate consumer appetite.

“Kristen and I met with the Warner Bros. brass, and they agreed to allow us to take this shot,” Thomas said. “They were extremely cool about it, as a matter of fact. Their reaction was, if you can show there’s enough fan interest to warrant a movie, we’re on board.”

Warner Bros. Digital Distribution is managing the project, and has agreed to pay for marketing, promotion and distribution. The success of the Kickstarter campaign also gives the project a huge headstart in marketing, promotion and audience engagement, giving digital marketers a direct line to its highly motivated fan base.

Crowdfunding has been a steady source of coin for micro-budget projects since Kickstarter’s launch in 2009, and though it’s the splashiest, the “Veronica Mars” payoff isn’t the first to lend legitimacy to the site as an incubator: Short doc “Inocente” — which received $52,000 from 300 contributors — last month became the first Kickstarter-funded film to win an Oscar.

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  1. I am thinking a Ringer movie needs to be next!

  2. mikey says:

    The biggest problem I have with Kickstarter is that unless you have a big marketing campaign and tons of publicity, (ie, Veronica Mars) you just aren’t going to get anywhere. You can have an amazing product, but so much of the experience for normal people boils down to luck. If you aren’t a Staff Pick, Featured, or famous..how does anyone even SEE your project?

    Case and point: http://kck.st/XpzL8h

    Pretty damn cool but it has only $165.

  3. Chuck says:

    A Smallville movie should be next!

  4. J.E. Vizzusi says:

    The reality of this story is about “Kickstarter”, and what its doing to help us Indies get out shows off the ground. I was initially against Rockethub and then Kickstarter when they premiered a way to sneek our projects into the eyes, ears and hands of potential financiers. I was outspoken at the start saying that the percentage that Kickstarter takes for their services, a Filmmaker needs to use for their overall Production Budget. But now I feel differently. I feel that Indies need a voice and any alternative way to get their stories told and for one to make a judgement to donate to the cause, then why the hell not! I now think its rather great that Film’s of any genre now have a fighting chance and hopefully more attention will be paid to this kind of alternative financing.

  5. Erin says:

    Firefly came out with a movie. It’s called Serenity.

  6. Matt says:

    I hope Party Down is next!

  7. brad says:

    what would you guys think of a charmed movie

  8. dwayne12 says:

    Breaking Bad film, enough said.

  9. Jacqueline Harriet says:

    Beyond thrilled. Pushing Daisies next, please!

  10. mike says:

    As pointed out before Firefly HAD a movie. And Netflix is most certainly not rebooting AD “for television”. Great research.

  11. Reblogged this on whereiscaroline and commented:
    All I have to say is…. WE DID IT!!!!

  12. L says:

    I’m so happy the movie is really happening! It was a long, long wait but it’s here!!

  13. Gord says:

    “TV shows “Firefly,” “24” and “Arrested Development” had all been kicked around as possible films.”

    Well, Firefly got a theatrical movie – it was called “Serenity.”

  14. Lara says:

    “Anomalisa” probably raised $406 thousand, not $406 million. (Though I certainly wouldn’t complain if a Kaufman film beat out “Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End” as the most expensive movie ever made.)

  15. Chris says:

    Can’t Joss Whedon flip the bill for the rest? He was a fan of the show.

    • Rachel says:

      Probably not. He’s brilliant and created one of my favorite heroines ever (Buffy), but in the end he’s a selfish SOB. Have you read his interviews? Too full of himself.

  16. W says:

    The show was amazing. The cast is on board. There is no way this film won’t be awesome.

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