From cult tv show to kickstarter-funded film

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Veronica Mars (2014) by Rob Thomas

By Heider Tunarrosa

Veronica Mars premiered September 2004 on the now-defunct UPN. The show was a complete hit among critics who praised the writing, the acting, the neo-noir style, and the ability to convey believable teen angst.

VM was the kind of show that both young and adult viewers could enjoy because Rob Thomas (the creator and executive producer, not to be confused with the Matchbox Twenty singer) not only mixed genres, but he also made references to old Hollywood movies. The first season was a clear homage to another cult TV show, Twin Peaks (created by David Lynch).

The premise of Veronica Mars seemed dumb at first: a high school teenager who solves crimes in a wealthy town in California? Who cares?  The town in which Veronica lived was run by corruption, greed and fame; but as with many great TV shows, it was all about the characters. The main character, Veronica, was a flawed character, a former popular girl who became an outcast after she stood up for her father (that’s all I’m going to say, because as I mentioned earlier, this is a spoiler-free article). The show was clever, refreshing, and incredibly original. The dialogue was funny and witty, but it didn’t get renewed for a fourth season when UPN and The WB decided to join forces and become the CW.  It was sad to see such a brilliant show go, but Rob Thomas developed such a strong fan base that year after year there was a glimpse of hope about the making of a fourth season – or a movie. Now the date was March 13th, 2013.  Kickstarter was becoming an increasingly utilized crowdfunding site for new business (and especially artists).  So Rob Thomas and Kristen Bell created a Kickstarter campaign for the movie.  Thomas’s goal was to reach $2 million in thirty days (which, incredibly, they reached in less than 10 hours).  And when the campaign ended, they had accumulated a total of $5.7 million. THAT was a success.

One year later, March 14th, 2014, the movie came out.  And now the numbers are in: $2 million on its opening weekend – not bad at all considering the only things the studio had to finance were marketing and advertising.  It’s also important to keep in mind that the movie got a limited release, and Warner Brothers still has to count the money they made from the digital downloads and the Video On Demand services (yes, the Veronica Mars movie is also available on demand). On top of all this, the movie is a complete hit.  Thomas managed to please two audiences: new arrivals and old fans. There are plenty, plenty of references in the movie about the show, but the story is so well written that unacquainted audiences can still sit down and enjoy a good old detective story.

The film’s main criticism seems to be that the story feels contrived –but it’s not. There’s a prologue at the beginning of the movie that introduces new audiences to Veronica Mars is, what she does and why is she the way she is.  The mystery keeps you guessing till the very end; however, just as the show (and the noir genre as whole) requires, the characters are often flawed, emotionally disturbed people. The story is about a woman trying to escape her past, and now she has to come home and face her demons.

Good movies come from different sources, and this one happened to come from great TV.  Go watch it.  And then go and watch (or re-watch) the show. You won’t be sorry.