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.
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.
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.
"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.