Last week, we reported that cult-classic TV show Firefly was getting a new run of its first and only season on Science Channel. After the news broke, star Nathan Fillion waxed poetic, saying that he’d buy the rights to the series and start it up again if he won the lottery. Die-hard Firefly fans – never ones to let a lost cause die quietly – have begun a grassroots movement to raise the money for him.

Speaking to an Entertainment Weekly reporter, Fillion said that “If I got $300 million from the California Lottery, the first thing I would do is buy the rights to Firefly, make it on my own, and distribute it on the Internet.” Almost immediately, fans of the 2002 series started organizing on Twitter and Facebook to see if a donation drive was plausible. After a groundswell of initial support, HelpNathanBuyFirefly.com was created.

For the time being, the organizer or organizers are staying anonymous, waiting to reveal themselves once they establish a pledge system and prepare for an influx of money. Even so, the social campaign has begun in earnest, gaining almost 35,000 “likes” on Facebook at the time of writing. The people in charge are keeping a steady stream of information flowing, collecting commitments and art from excited fans who can’t wait to put their money down.

Here is their mission:

Phase 1) Generate momentum.   We’re going to setup a way people can pledge funding towards the mission of putting the rights to Firefly back into the hands of people who care about it.  Since Nathan said he’d be game to be those hands, we’re going to watch for …

Phase 2) Nathan chimes in towards us and approves the effort.   At that point, it’s a real mission and we’ll switch into…

Phase 3) We’ll setup a way for the funding to be collected into a Non-Profit Organization.  We’ll then want everyone to make good on their pledge and contribute.

And fans aren’t the only ones responding. Former Firefly writers Jose Molina and Jane Espenson have already responded to the campaign, pledging their talents to the cause if it actually comes through. A message on the group’s Facebook wall pledged $1000 (from one Malcolm Reynolds, no less) if the project reached the donation stage. News outlets from fan blogs to CNN are reporting on the movement, helping it gain steam all over the world.

So how plausible is a Firefly revival? Let’s just say that “long shot” is an understatement. While the group doesn’t need anywhere near $300 million (Serenity was made on a budget of $40 million in 2005) converting fan excitement into real-world dollars is a daunting task. Fillion’s comment was somewhat off the cuff, and he’s got commitments of his own on ABC’s Castle, which shows no signs of ending anytime soon.

The star still hasn’t officially responded to the fan movement he irreverently created. Then there’s the rest of Firefly‘s celebrated cast, many of whom have gone on to their own steady movie and TV gigs – especially Alan Tudyk, Morena Baccarin and Summer Glau. Series creator Joss Whedon is currently hard at work for Marvel assembling The Avengers. And of course there’s continuity issues – Serenity killed off some very important characters, and a direct continuation of the show would be difficult without them.

All this ignores the most likely roadblock for Firefly fans: 20th Century Fox isn’t obligated to sell the rights, no matter how much money is raised. After seeing a huge demand for more Firefly, the studio is more likely to try and sell to another Hollywood party, like it did when it sold the movie rights to Universal. Or (shudder), it could try to reboot the series on its own.

But fan campaigns to revive series have worked in the past. The internet campaign to save Firefly failed in 2002, but that was before the series had become the science fiction icon it is today. Even Serenity found a much wider audience on DVD than it ever did in theaters.

If Firefly is to return, it’ll join revivals of Arrested Development, Jericho, Family Guy, Futurama and Chuck – and that’s just in the last decade or so. Even the original Star Trek was cancelled, then brought back after a vigorous letter-writing campaign. And with Internet-based distribution outside of the Hollywood studio system, almost anything is possible.

If you want to Help Nathan Buy Firefly, you can check out the group’s website and follow them on Twitter and Facebook. And remember, Science Channel will be showing the original Firefly episodes in HD starting in March.

Source: Entertainment Weekly