WASHINGTON – Shortly after 11 a.m. March 13, Rob Thomas, creator of the short-lived detective drama “Veronica Mars,” tweeted that if fans would pledge $2 million by 11 p.m. April 12, Warner Bros. would put into production a “Veronica Mars” movie. The film would get a limited theatrical release early next year, and the studio would foot the bills for marketing, promotion and distribution.
A Kickstarter campaign was born.
“The record time to $1M on Kickstarter is 7 hours. Can we top that? Can we make it there in 5? $80K to go!” Thomas tweeted excitedly the afternoon of March 13.
The campaign hit $1 million at 3:06 p.m. Eastern time — just four hours after it was launched, setting a Kickstarter record.
“We are so close … it has me so jittery! So Im doing the only reasonable thing to calm my nerves. #imonthetredmillwatchinghoarders,” tweeted star Kristen Bell on Wednesday afternoon, as the ticker inched toward the $2 million mark.
Kickstarter is a website founded in 2009 to raise money for “creative” projects via Web crowd-funding. Among the many film projects that reportedly have benefited are the documentary shorts “Sun Come Up” and “Incident in New Baghdad” — both nominated for Academy Awards.
Thomas’ fundraiser roared out of the gate Wednesday morning; by 1:45 p.m. more than $720,000 had been pledged by about 9,300 people. That’s an average of about $77 per person. Pledges were pouring in at the rate of about $4,000 per minute.
“Veronica Mars” debuted on the now-defunct UPN network in fall 2004; 2.5 million people tuned in to the first season. The show starred Bell as a high-schooler in the town of Neptune, California, who moonlights as a detective under the mentorship of her private-eye dad.
When the UPN and WB networks went toes up, and the CW network rose from their ashes, the new network took “Veronica Mars” to its prime-time lineup, but the show only lasted one more season.
Apparently, “VM” fans — who, sadly, are not called Veronica Martians — have been obsessing ever since.
“Best $50 I’ve ever spent. ‘Veronica Mars’ is hands down my favorite TV show of all time!! I know every single line,” gushed pledger Tami Bereznay in the comments section of the fundraising campaign.
Many of the comments were made by “VM” fanatics outside the United States, who complained that the campaign had been set up to ship pledge rewards only inside the United States, which was “crippling the campaign.” (Wednesday afternoon, Thomas tweeted they were “working out thorny issues so we can include you.”)
Many of the donors said they’d made only a $10 pledge, which entitled them to receive a PDF of the shooting script on the day of the movie’s release, as well as regular updates and behind-the-scenes scoops throughout the fundraising and filming.
“The more money we raise, the cooler movie we can make,” Thomas promised fans on the Kickstarter campaign page at the start of the fundraiser. “A $2 million fundraising total probably means cross words are exchanged at the class reunion. $3 million? We can afford a full-on brawl. $10 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 … If that total goes high enough, I’ll bet the good folks at Warner Bros. will agree a sequel is a good idea.”
Speaking of the good folks at Warner Bros., you can imagine how silly they were feeling Wednesday afternoon for having set the greenlight threshold at a mere $2 million.