But is this a brand new day in film financing that has the potential to change how Hollywood works? Probably not! But it's still cool! Except when it's really troubling! A breakdown...
2 Reasons Why This Is Awesome News!
- Veronica Mars is awesome.
Seriously, what a great TV show! Though its teen mystery solver hook can be easily reduced to its "a modern, snarky Nancy Drew" concept line, it was much more fully realized than that. It was laugh out loud funny without ever lowering the real dramatic stakes of its stories. Kristen Bell's title character was a female protagonist who avoided both the polar cliches of girlfriend/damsel in distress and super-human, Buffy/Uma in Kill Bill vengeful ass-kicker. She was a petite gal who overcame obstacles and regularly delivered creep comeuppance by being smarter and more determined than her adversaries (and packing an occasional taser). That, plus constant love triangles! The rest of the cast was filled with great character actor performances, ranging from Enrico Colantoni's tough but sweet dad, Ryan Hansen's hansie superdouche Dick Casablancas, Francis Capra's bike gang kingpin with a heart of gold, and Ken Marino's rival private eye as Members Only cheeseball. A victim of low ratings from the start, the show was cancelled and went out on sort of an uneven bummer non-ending, just as Veronica was moving from wise-beyond-her-years precocious to competent, assured adult. There are a lot of stories left to tell here. Even one more big one would be great!
- This gives hope to every fan of every critically loved, prematurely cancelled show ever.
Oh man, if it's this easy we never have to say goodbye to anything we love until we've totally run it into the ground! Freaks and Geeks....the movie! Party Down....the movie! What could possibly go wrong???
5 Ways This Could Possibly Go Wrong
- Wait, they just crowd-funded a movie from a major studio?
Ok, so let me get this straight, Veronica Mars fans are paying for this movie to exist, and then, promised streaming copies aside, are also counted on to buy tickets? And if all this extra Kickstarter publicity makes it a huge hit, I don't suppose backers are getting points on the back end, because they sold that right off for pledge mugs or whatever? And so Warner Brothers, who hold the rights and also clearly have 3 million dollars just lying around in their coat pockets, have exactly no risk and the potential for a big windfall? And this is progress?
- This just proves again that crowd sourcing is a great idea....for already popular things with pre-existing fan bases.
Like that whole Amanda Palmer fiasco, this goes again to prove that crowd-sourced funding for art projects mainly just works when something has already had the chance to find a mainstream audience who, feeling deprived, are willing to pay more for something they already liked. Despite the Internet-centric idea that the Internet is the most important medium in the history of the world, the capacity to get known on major record labels, or broadcast TV, still far, far surpasses fleeting web fame. We should probably keep that in mind as we're tempted to declare a brave new world of financing. Maybe Warner Brothers, seeing all these headlines, can promise to also distribute unknown properties from new creators if they hit a reasonable baseline level of support and competence? Maybe then we've got something truly exciting? (This will not happen.)
- If this works out really well, it will lead to a lot of terrible stuff too.
Think on this and shudder: No additional funding was needed to make two Sex and the City movies. An Entourage movie is forthcoming. Put that whole no-risk idea into the equation, and we are just steps away from living in a frightening world where fans are bilked into underwriting Big Bang Theory: The Movie or, like, The Cleveland Show: The Movie. Grim.
- Will this lead to crummy TV storytelling?
Part of creating a classic TV show is ending it in a way that provides closure for people who've made the time investment, but leaves a evocative, lingering impression in their minds. That's part of the whole deal. It's one thing for shows that were axed ahead of a master plan to get one last chance to do it right, and another thing entirely to make your fans pay for a do-over. So, while the head spins thinking of all the creative wrongs we can suddenly right, let's lift a glass to crafting a proper finish within the bounds of your own chosen medium!
- Will this stunt the growth of talented creators?
There were solid years there where everyone lamented how genius TV showrunners like Judd Apatow and Joss Whedon were constantly thwarted by uncreative suits who just didn't get it. But remember their second acts, when they built off of their moral victories and honed wildly popular voices that led to insane levels of success? How they became the go-to guys for sweet-but-gross adult comedy and super-fun, not-intelligence insulting super-hero smash-em-ups, respectively? Shouldn't Rob Thomas, who created Veronica Mars and Party Down, two of the best TV shows in recent memory, be challenged to do the same rather than dwell on past glories? Aren't you more excited about what he might do next? Is this whole thing, which seems hard and notable on first glance, kind of a safe cop-out? I dunno!
I'm definitely going to see this movie, though, so I'll let you know.