Get ready Marshmallows, because we are going on a journey back to 2004. A simpler time from my youth, filled with popped collared polos, frosted tips and track jackets.
A long time ago, we used to be friends, but I haven’t thought of you lately at all… until you launched a record breaking Kickstarter campaign and came back with a vengeance.
Ahh yes, Veronica Mars, the beloved sleeper-cult-hit show (is that a thing?) that was abruptly and unceremoniously cancelled as a result of consistently low ratings following the jumbled merger of The WB and UPN networks into The CW back in 2006. There was once a flittering rumor that viewers might get a season 4, which was also yanked from our grasp before it gained any traction. This left the series with every conceivable loose-end dangling off a cliff over a pit of unresolved plot lines and character arcs. Now, seven years after the last episode aired, Veronica has been resurrected. It started last spring when Rob Thomas, the creator behind it all, announced the potential for a Veronica Mars movie through a Kickstarter Campaign.
Hold the phone, let’s make some history.
The catch? This long awaited film adaptation of the short-lived series was relying on their fans to make it happen. Rob Thomas, Kristen Bell and many of the VM alums reached out via the crowdfunding site to ask us to help them fund the movie and prove to the studio that there was an audience out there who wanted to see it. Well, the fans proved their love in a major way. The campaign was monumentally successful, reaching its $2 million goal in just two days, eventually tapping out over their mark at $5,702,153. The campaign finished up by shattering records for the most backers of a single project and most funds raised for a film project in the history of Kickstarter.
Fans, or Marshmallows as we are called, rallied to fork over whatever they could from their hard-earned paychecks to see their favorite characters again. It was a revelation. All this for the project that had been met with seven years of “NO” from Warner Bros, the studio owning the rights to Veronica Mars’ Neptune, CA universe.
Not only did this gift from the fans help Rob Thomas and Co. bring the film to life, but it may have also pointed out that the studios do not always know what the people want (#duh).
In the year leading up to the release of the film, which premiered this past Friday, March 14th, there have been hoards of articles fluttering around the interweb regarding how the Veronica Mars movie revolutionized crowd funding, how it changed the game for long-lost cult favorites, and even new review pieces shouting wake-up calls for those who missed this excellent series in its first go-round.
That’s right, having recently rewatched all three seasons, I can definitively say that this series I loved at age 15 still stands the test of time today at age 25, as excellent television. For the VM virgins out there, I’ll keep it brief. This show had incredibly smart writing, quick-witted dialog, a strong female lead who defies many stereotypes, a unique nior take on the early 2000’s obsession with So. Cal. teens (looking at you here, The OC & Laguna Beach), and most notably, well thought out and insightful takes on class inequality and one of the most accurate depictions of rape ever to hit network TV. It was a damn good show, and if you haven’t seen it you’re missing out. Some would even say it was epic.
I digress. That’s not why I’m here. I’m here to talk about why this cult phenom came back so hard and how they were able to make it all happen through the fans. I got one word for you, daddy-o:
Don Draper (or really, Matthew Weiner) taught me that nostalgia is the most powerful tool of advertising, “it’s delicate, but potent.” Thanks to the strong pull of nostalgia, showrunner Rob Thomas was able to make it happen for Veronica Mars.
Lets do the time warp, again.
Veronica Mars premiered in the fall of 2004, and while it may not seem like it (or we may not want it to be), that was 10 years ago.
Things that were once passing fads for teens in the early 2000s, have moved passed the point of embarrassingly out of style and have evolved into endearingly nostalgic. Enough time has passed to begin to actually look back fondly at the puka shell necklaces, lamb skin jackets, argyle v-necks, Nokia 8210’s, pop-culture references to Nick & Jessica, and of course the killer early 2000’s indie rock from the likes of Spoon, Tegan and Sara, and The Faders, to name a few.
Stir the pot.
So, there were a number of factors simmering in the Veronica Mars fan base leading up to the launch of what would be an internet-shattering Kickerstarter.
First, we have a cult fan base who were left with a feeling of unfinished business after an abrupt cancellation that left much of the story in limbo. Then, we have a large population of highly nostalgic “millennial pluses” (anyone who was in the 14-24 demographic during the shows original 2004-2007 run). Finally, we must factor in that these “millenial pluses” are now the group most likely to A) have the disposable income to donate to a project they’re a fan of, and B) support said project on a crowdfunding platform like Kickstarter. So, as the saying goes:
Bing, Bang, Boom. That’s how babies are made.
Nostalgia, it’s a powerful thing. So powerful, it made the movie that none of the money-men at Warner Bros wanted to make, and these are the same people who keep giving millions to Michael Bay. But with great power, comes great responsibility. Not every show needs a movie, exceptions should be made on a case by case basis. Often it’s just better to let things die*.
So what’s the next stop on the TV-to-movie crowdfunded resurrection train? Only time and our Bitcoin dollars will tell.
As for now my dear Marshmallows, I hope you took a moment soak in the brief glare from the frosted tips and nestle back into 2004. Because as we learned before, nothing lasts forever.
*I’m looking at you, One Tree Hill. Your last five seasons ruined the first four, please for the love of God do not make a movie.