Joss Whedon: What the ‘Veronica Mars’ Kickstarter Means for ‘Firefly’

Published 2 years ago by , Updated May 12th, 2013 at 8:04 am,

Joss Whedon Talks Veronica Mars Kickstarter and Firefly Follow Up Joss Whedon: What the Veronica Mars Kickstarter Means for Firefly

By now, you probably know that the creator (Rob Thomas) and star (Kristen Bell) of Veronica Mars launched a Kickstarter yesterday to fund a follow-up film as a capper to the incomplete (and canceled far too soon) neo-noir series. The Kickstarter reached its goal – $2 million – in less than 10 hours (which is just one of the Kickstarter records it broke) and is currently at $3,268,000.

Of course, this led passionate fans of other cult series – namely, Joss Whedon’s Firefly – to wonder aloud as to whether or not something similar could be done for their own prematurely canceled TV show of choice. Now, Whedon himself has commented on the Kickstarter and what it means for a potential Firefly/Serenity follow-up.

Courtesy of Buzz Feed, Joss Whedon talked about his reaction to the (nigh-on) immediate success of the Veronica Mars Kickstarter:

“It was unfettered joy. A) I thought it was an awesome and ballsy move. B) I love V. Mars and want more of it. And C) It feels like a real game-changer. Like, not since Louis C.K. [selling his comedy special directly online].”

Whedon, as it happens, was a very vocal fan of Veronica Mars when it was on the air. He even had a cameo appearance in season 2 as an annoying boss at a car rental service.

Joss Whedon on Veronica Mars Joss Whedon: What the Veronica Mars Kickstarter Means for Firefly

On the “bellyaching” (Buzz Feed‘s words, not ours) heard round the Internet from blogs suggesting that the Veronica Mars Kickstarter is Warner Bros.’ way of misusing the platform and screwing over the entire human race in the process:

“Mmmhmm. [...] You know, I get that. I understand that it feels not as pure, and that the presence of a studio makes it disingenuous somehow. But people clearly understood what was happening and just wanted to see more of the thing they love. To give them that opportunity doesn’t feel wrong. If it was a truly wrong move, I don’t think it would have worked. I feel like people would have said, ‘Hey, that’s not fair! That doesn’t count!’ It costs a lot to see a movie anyway. And it’s usually not one you like. That kind of passion, I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing. I might not be thinking it through. I’m not exactly business Joe.”

Hear, hear, Joss Whedon. Hear. Hear.

I don’t want to get into a whole thing about this, but it all seems pretty simple to me – people desperately wanted closure to a series they believed with all their hearts was canceled before its time, it was a form of closure that would not have existed (full stop) without this Kickstarter, and they freely, happily paid for it with their own hard-earned cash (if you pay $50, you’ll get a T-shirt, a digital copy days after the initial release, and a physical copy with a documentary about the Kickstarter and the making of the film; people pay more for baseball games and Broadway).

There’s the argument that Warner Bros. is beholden to no man (since they didn’t technically “create” the Kickstarter) and thus they can just take all that sweet Veronica Mars money and flee to Mexico.

But obviously that’s not true. As soon as Warner Bros. “takes” the money from this Kickstarter, they are legally beholden to the people who paid them – beholden to come through with the rewards that were promised, or, in lieu of that, refund them their moneys.

Veronica Mars Movie Kickstarter Joss Whedon: What the Veronica Mars Kickstarter Means for Firefly

And even if that weren’t the law, can you imagine the publicity hell that would rain down upon Warner Bros. if they just up welshed on the deal? This is no longer some measly Kickstarter for some obscure high school private detective show starring that girl from the adorable sloth video – this is possibly the most high profile Kickstarter there ever was. Rest assured, there will be a movie, and people will get their rewards.

But I digress.

What does the Veronica Mars Kickstarter movie mean for a future Firefly follow-up or Serenity sequel?

“That’s what everybody wants to know about. Uh, yeah. My fourth feeling when I read about [the ‘Veronica Mars’ Kickstarter campaign] was a kind of dread. Because I realized the only thing that would be on everybody’s mind right now. I’ve said repeatedly that I would love to make another movie with these guys, and that remains the case. It also remains the case that I’m booked up by Marvel for the next three years, and that I haven’t even been able to get ‘Dr. Horrible 2′ off the ground because of that. So I don’t even entertain the notion of entertaining the notion of doing this, and won’t. Couple years from now, when Nathan [Fillion]‘s no longer [on] ‘Castle’ and I’m no longer the Tom Hagen of the Marvel Universe and making a giant movie, we might look and see where the market is then. But right now, it’s a complete non-Kickstarter for me.”

So there you have it – it’s definitely a maybe. But it’s also definitely a not-any-time-in-the-near-future, if ever.

On the difference between funding a Veronica Mars movie and a Firefly/Serenity follow-up:

“We come to Veronica Mars to hear her talk and hear her father talk. But ‘Firefly’/’Serenity,’ it’s kind of a different animal — and then there’s also the question of what kind of animal it is. Because some people are talking about ‘Firefly’ episodes. Some people are talking about [a new] ‘Serenity.’ I think anything we could get off the ground would be appreciated by the fans. But what form it would take is I think under some debate.”

The point is, a science fiction film comes with certain inherent costs that a movie about a girl who detects things (privately or otherwise) does not. Serenity cost approximately $40 million to produce . Considering the movie didn’t make its money back in theaters, one can imagine that procuring that sort of endowment by way of crowdfunding would be an immensely difficult prospect (the most amount of money a Kickstarter has ever received is $10,266,845, and it was for a smartwatch called Pebble E-Paper Watch).

Joss Whedon and the cast of ‘Serenity’

But it is interesting that Whedon is already thinking about what form this theoretical Firefly follow-up would take. Would it be a new series? Would it be a sequel to Serenity? I think as long as it’s a live-action continuation of the series, fans will be ecstatic. Considering Netflix is paying $4 million an episode for House of Cards, would it be so difficult to imagine them paying something similar for a Firefly revival?

Still, there are worries beyond just money and medium. Quality assurance, for example.

Says Whedon:

What if it’s not that good? I can do something that’s not that good — that’s fine. But if I do [a 'Firefly' follow-up] and it’s not that good, I’m going to feel really stupid.

“I’ve always said, ‘Yes, I’d love to do another one,’ and it’s still true. But I sort of got slapped in the face with it. Or probably will.”

So what does this mean for Firefly fans hoping to see the continued adventures of Mal and his friends in space? Basically, if you really, really want a Firefly follow-up (as quickly as possible, mind you), immediately stop watching Castle and make sure that The Avengers 2 tanks so horribly at the box office that Marvel never wants to hire Joss Whedon again. Sound like a plan?

What do you think about the Veronica Mars Kickstarter, Screen Ranters? Is it the first sign of the impending corporate apocalypse, as some have argued (in less dramatic terms, of course)? Also, would you prefer to see Firefly revived as a movie or as a TV series? Drop us a line in the comments.

The fully funded (and then some) Veronica Mars Kickstarter movie is expected to start shooting this summer with a release date early next year.


Follow me on Twitter @benandrewmoore.

Source: Veronica Mars Kickstarter & Buzz Feed

Follow Ben Moore on Twitter @benandrewmoore
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  1. I understand that the studio is legally has to abide by the terms, but what about the actors and actresses? What if they don’t want to continue with it? Are they legally attached?

    If this does become a new thing and a revolution, like petitioning the white house, then I am all for it.

    Bring back “The Unit”.

    • I would love to see Special Unit 2 from early 2000′s brought back.

    • The actors are clearly on board with the Veronica Mars movie. Kristen Bell (Veronica) has her name attached to the Kickstarter proposal. She and several other actors are in a video to promote the movie, have given interviews promoting the Kickstarter campaign, and have personally offered some of the incentives to Kickstarter backers. Most of the cast members have tweeted, blogged, and otherwise publically attached their names to the project. Not one of them has said they don’t want to continue. They are all enthusiastic. If they back out now, they destroy their credibility and reputations as actors.

  2. Is Mutant Enemy (Joss’s Production Company) still running?

    Must confess not to fully grasp movie financing (not really bothered you see) but as a casual outside observer it looks like a studio buys the rights/script to a project, covers the cost of distribution and stumps up some of the production cash with the rest being provided or sourced by whichever production companies are involved with a profits shareing agreement between all investing parties.

    So if Joss still ownes the rights to Firefly/Serenity then why not just get Mutant Enemy and a few other production compaines to fund it and just have a studio in on a distribuution only deal.

    Eliza and Joss go way back and she’s got her own production company and as for financial viability Serenity may not of made the money back in theaters but I’d be surprised if it didn’t make it into the black after DVD Sales.

    Maybe a Kickstart campaign just to top of the funding (8-10mil), maybe the actors will take reduced fee’s as they’ve all proclaimed a love for the world and their characters and lets face it non of them are short of a bob or 2(million lol) and it would help keep the budget down.

    Maybe see if there’s any high profile fans of the show and get them to contribute a’la George Harrison and Monty Python’s Life of Brian.

    Pop Stars and Professional Sports Stars have got a couple hundred mill down the back of the sofa.

    If enough people want it to happen it will, there’s loads of ways to get the finances. If it comes to it… seal it from the Aliance…. fight for Independance.

    • I don’t think he owns the rights to “Firefly”; that’s why he had to call the movie Serenity. I’m not sure about the rights to the characters though.

      In any case, he doesn’t have the time for the next 3 years anyway, so it’s probably a moot point until then.

  3. I think it’s probably good that we might not be getting more Firefly. We got 14 episodes (13 of which were very, very good) and an absolutely wonderful movie. Why ruin that?

    Also, what would happen with the deaths in Serenity? Do you retcon the movie? I can’t imagine going on without “those left behind” (trying to avoid spoilers here).

    Basically, what I’m saying is let’s just be glad we have what we have. Let’s not get greedy, now.

    • There is merit to that arguement and as Joss is reported to of said in the article, what if it sucked….

      As with all things we love, we want more but what if it doesn’t resonate like it used to… does it become a posioned chalice

    • I agree, it’s been so long now that the danger of a failure is too great.

      Most of the love Firefly/Serenity gets is because it was cancelled so early. People love the potential of what it could have been as much as they love what it really was.

      I sometimes feel alone in that I liked it, but I’m not rabid for its return.

    • Why would more Firefly have to ruin things? The only way would be if it was bad or if it felt forced (you don’t say that in your comment though, just that you assume it’ll ruin what came before).

      Judging from Joss and the actors’ love for it though, I don’t think they’d do it if they thought it was going to be bad.

    • I agree and also would like to point out unlike Mars (which Ive never seen) Firefly/Serenity more or less ended.

      Sorry lets keep our inner peace happy and not try to make something that may be past its prime.

      As for the deaths I dont think Josh would retcon it. (and sorry it is not a Spoiler the movie has been out long enough) If anything just move on and pick up Chiwetel Ejiofor as man without a country putting him on board.

      • I agree that Firefly is not a property that’s begging to be continued – whatever people thought of it, Serenity was definitely supposed to be the “ending.”

        On the other hand, if Whedon eventually says, “Man, I have this awesome idea and I want to realize it,” then that could be excellent, too.

    • No greed at all. I am perfectly willing to wait for 5 or 10 years to see a new Firefly series or movie. As Whedon said, there would be a point where he would ask if people really wanted it to continue. Keep in mind that it would be a decade later in the ‘verse as well. There are some great stories there…

    • What makes you think Serenity was an “absolutely wonderful” movie? I enjoyed it like I enjoyed Firefly but let’s be honest, it was clearly lacking budget and ended up sub-par for a feature film. It felt more like an extended episode of the TV show.

  4. The confirmations for donating stated that the money wouldn’t be taken from a person’s account until the last day of the campaign (April 12, I think). It’ll be interesting to see how many committed and canceled before that date rolls around. Still, at $3.2M I imagine they won’t be hurting…even if they can’t afford to have Amanda Seyfried return. :)

  5. Hopefully he will remake Serenity. What a horrible end to a great series.

    • The movie always left me wondering how much–if at all–Chiwetel Ejiofor’s Operative was supposed to be a parallel of who Shepherd Book was as a young man.

      • He was. The operative was suppose to be a younger mirror of Shepherd, which was poorly handled. Shepherd was one of my favorite characters and got such a b.s. death and meaningless appearance.

        • Some of my comment was missing.

          **which was poorly handled mostly due to the fact Firefly got cancelled.

          • Well, since it’s already been spoiled, I’ll just comment that he only died because he couldn’t commit to a sequel to Serenity, same as that *other* character.

            • Is that true? Or are you being facetious? And if true, where did you read that?

                • Thanks for the link.

                  I have to say, I find that kind of crazy. They had to be killed off because they couldn’t commit to a sequel? I mean, on the off-chance that it HAD been a huge hit, I’m pretty sure they would’ve been on board.

                  • IMDB states the same information in the trivia of the movie. Not sure if it comes from a commentary, but, I think everyone knows the high-degree of authenticity they uphold. ;) Not to belittle the careers of either Misters Tudyk or Glass, but I find it hard they were in such high-demand they wouldn’t have returned. Unless not all the browncoats are browncoat fans….

                    • Did you see the video of Whedon commenting on it at Comic Con? I wouldn’t doubt the degree of authenticity he upholds about his own creation :P

          • It was a subtle enough parallel, just hoped to have it play out in one more movie or story. In some ways it closed the loop that began with the pilot of the show. In other ways, it could just have been wishful thinking on my part.

  6. Firefly??? Yawn. What about buffy and angel??

    • I could see why you’d want to see some Angel – that’s a show that was canceled on a cliffhanger to its best season yet. But Buffy had a fairly conclusive ending on top of seven seasons of wildly fluctuating quality. Plus, didn’t Sarah Michelle Gellar WANT to stop making the show?

    • They continued in comics format, which incidentally allowed for bigger, crazier stuff than the shows were able to display.

      • Which incidentally a lot of fans hated, so they started doing more down-to-Earth stuff.

        • I actually thought Buffy season 8 was an improvement over 6 and 7, which were a bit of a letdown after the culmination of season 5. The authors nailed the characters’ personalities and I enjoyed the over-the-top ride, even if it was a bit weird at times (giant Robo-Dawn?!?). Plus, it’s always a blast to have some new Spike awesomeness. I haven’t got started on season 9 yet.

  7. We need a good end for angel.

  8. Such a humble guy. And to think someone said success has gone to his on a recent thread.

    I really hope that when he’s done with all the stuff at Marvel, he’ll take another shot at Firefly. It’s probably too late for the show to be resurrected, but another movie is still a possibility.

    • Agreed! Considering when Joss is done at Marvel you’re looking at maybe 12-15 years at least since Firefly was on the air. Most of the actors will probably have other things going on or just be no longer interested in doing another Firefly series. Another movie would probably be all we get if we can even get that.

    • gone to his *head

    • Very true. How many other writer/directors do you see admitting publicly that they’re afraid of one of their beloved creations being bad if they continued it?

      Plenty of other shows have run far past their expiration date *cough* The Simpsons *cough* but I really don’t think this is the case with Firefly.

  9. Stop watching Castle? Never! And it better be on for more than a couple more years. I pick Castle over anything else. It’s a wonderful show. Although I do think Nathan Fillion deserves to be on the big screen. I would miss Castle too much.

  10. Bryan Fuller should consider Kickstarter for completing ‘Pushing Daisies’.

    • He actually is. I think we’re writing something up currently.


    • But that’s true of everything. iPhone apps, YouTube videos, Twitter accounts, Facebook accounts, Instagram accounts. Literally anything on the Internet is going to do better if it has a rabid fan base/following than if it has no fanbase at all …

  12. I’d like to see this some for Heroes. I know the content was starting to decline, but there should be an end to this show.

  13. I’d like to see this done for Heroes. I know the content was starting to decline, but there should be an end to this show.

    • I concur. Producers should be forbidden to drop a show until the full story is told.

  14. Please no Firefly/Serenity Kickstarter campaigns. I saw them to see what the fuss was about recently and found them to be as boring as Whedon’s other output.

    We definitely could do with that 24 movie being made however…

    • It’s all a matter of taste, pal. I’d take any Whedon stuff over 24 any day. From where I’m standing, the only really good season of 24 was the first one.

  15. I think that Kickstarter is a wonderful, theoretically pure concept. Direct consumer financing is a good sort of mandate for product creation. Good for Veronica Mars, and I hope that it does erode some of the archaic aspects of the business model for filmmaking.

    I would love to see a Firefly continuation, even if it is years down the road. From what I have read, it seems as though the involved parties, especially Whedon and Fillion, would be very enthused to get back together. I’m sure that Joss has some good story ideas on the shelves of his mind, and even if it was a lower-budget, less effects-heavy project, I would totally pay, even if it was just to have those characters back in a room, joking and giving each other a hard time. Fear of failure is a cop out.

  16. Nathan Fillion in the captain’s tightpants these days…ehhhh

  17. I don’t think anyone has stopped to think of the fact that the actors during their time on Firefly were in their prime. What kind of shape are they going to be in 4-5 years from now when this could maybe take place? Are they even going to want to do some of the more physically demanding stuff? I could see something happening in the same universe but if people are looking for the exact same show they need to be a little more realstic and just enjoy it it for what it was. Life is short but sweet for certain and we are but a tiny grain of sand in the universe of things. Much like Firefly was. The moment has passed. Let’s move on.

  18. Legally beholden? Have you read the Kickstarter terms of service? Go see what happens when you demand a refund from a project that went off the rails and see how far that gets you.

    • Per Kickstarter’s FAQ:

      “Is a creator legally obligated to fulfill the promises of their project?
      Yes. Kickstarter’s Terms of Use require creators to fulfill all rewards of their project or refund any backer whose reward they do not or cannot fulfill. (This is what creators see before they launch.) We crafted these terms to create a legal requirement for creators to follow through on their projects, and to give backers a recourse if they don’t. We hope that backers will consider using this provision only in cases where they feel that a creator has not made a good faith effort to complete the project and fulfill.”

      A project that I funded would have to go off the rails before I could demand a refund, so I can’t “see what happens” in this scenario. It’s worth noting that if a project refused to refund you for their failed project, you would have to actually go to (small claims?) court to get it. Obviously Kickstarter doesn’t have some magical means of taking back the money funded to a particular project.

      The point is, it’s required in the Kickstarter deal, and thus the Kickstarter functions as a contract. Like any contract, you can’t break the contract without legal consequences.

  19. I don’t know why they don’t make a Firefly animated series. Marvel, DC, Halo, and Star Wars have all made highly successful animated versions of their product that are much easier to make and cheaper than live-action counterparts. This is a no-brainer for a sci-fi series.

    • There’s a few comics out there, they’re even cheaper to make.

  20. Firefly was cancelled unfinished, and then Serenity gave the fans closure. There’s no need to bring it back, as good as it was, because it actually ended. Veronica Mars just stopped, and now we’re finally getting closure, just like Firefly did.