The Veronica Mars Kickstarter Worked, Why Didn’t Other Cancelled Fan Favorites Do The Same?

By David Wharton | Updated

Veronica Mars

Ever since UPN canceled the outstanding Veronica Mars back in 2007, creator Rob Thomas and star Kristen Bell had been keeping hope alive that the whip-smart series might return in some form, perhaps as a movie.

But the argument against had always been that there weren’t enough Veronica Mars fans out there to make it it worthwhile. But in 2013, Veronica Mars re-entered the pop culture landscape in a major way, revealing that Hollywood had been seriously underestimating Veronica Mars, and her fans. Kristen Bell that Rob Thomas took to the crowdfunding site Kickstarter for a little something called “The Veronica Mars Movie Project.”

Their target goal was $2 million. It quickly shattered that target, raising $1 million in just four hours and ultimately raising over $5.7 million from 91,585 backers. From a Kickstarter perspective, Veronica Mars was the fastest project to reach $1 million and $2 million on Kickstarter, as well as the highest-funded project in Kickstarter’s film category at the time.

Ultimately, it helped the Veronica Mars movie to be greenlit and produced, with star Kristen Bell and other original cast members returning. It was released in 2014, hit $3.5 million at the box office and was a hit with critics. Heck, it even paved the way for the Veronica Mars revival series (or Season 4) in 2018 which streamed on Hulu.

Up to this point, we’d seen plenty of Kickstarter projects where amateurs stir up interest by laying out their plans and winning backers. We’ve also seen established names call on their fans to support a new project. But, as far as I know, this is the first time a canceled show with a cult following has had the chance to resurrect years later, entirely because of the fans.

At the time, there was great hope that other canceled series would follow suit, copying Veronica Mars. What could Kickstarter campaigns mean for other long-gone shows that still have a passionate and dedicated fan base? The obvious connection is Firefly/Serenity, but then we have to consider that Serenity had a reported budget of $40 million.

Raising $2 million in one day is damned impressive, but there’s simply no precedent for how effective this sort of thing could be. Veronica Mars was a tonesetter.

But even if the prospect of fans committing the budget to a top-notch, effects-heavy movie like Serenity might seem like quite a stretch, they might not have to.

What if a project begins life as a Kickstarter, the fans raise a decent chunk of cash, and then the creative talents involved take that to the studios?

“Here’s what we want to do, here’s this many people that will be guaranteed ticket sales, and who are willing to put their hard-earned cash up to help make it happen.” With that vote of confidence, perhaps it might make risk-averse studios willing to take a chance since they wouldn’t have to bear the full financial brunt.

And even if something like a Serenity-level project remained and remains a pipe dream, there are plenty of projects that could come to life — or come back to life — without needing the budget of a Hollywood tentpole action movie.

Veronica Mars obviously lent itself to a smaller budget since it’s set in the modern day and is largely character-focused. But even more ambitious science fiction or fantasy projects can make due with a lot less cash than they used to, thanks to the continuing advance of technology.

Who’s to say that we couldn’t see a crowdfunded Serenity sequel at some point down the line? Or a new Babylon 5 series backed by its fans? Or hell, even a big-screen version of some beloved sci-fi literature classic? All it takes is the right talents and enough people to back their vision.

Even with the Veronica Mars win, Kickstarter hasn’t been the method of choice for many canceled series to get back into the mix. One notable exception was Mystery Science Theater 3000 which was launched by Joel Hodgson. The first was for a revival season on Netflix, and then for a second reboot currently airing on the MST3K app.

The first Mystery Science Theater 3000 campaign in 2015 raised over $5.7 million, while the second in 2021 raised over $6.5 million, both setting records at the time. The 12th season of the series hit Netflix on November 22, 2018.

We still think other canceled series would be correct in at least trying the Veronica Mars method of Kickstarting some funs for another series or a movie of some sort. Fans pay with their wallets and many are willing to fork it over.