In less than 12 hours on Wednesday, fans of the series "Veronica Mars" pledged more than the $2 million needed to help finance a movie version. Actually, producers received $2.5 million from 42,000 or so backers (or an average of $60 per pledge). The series, which ran on UPN and CW from 2004 to 2007, starred Kristen Bell as a high school student in the town of Neptune, California who works on the side as a private detective. The show never generated big audiences, but obviously captured a sizable fan base. Also unusual is that Warner Bros., which holds the rights to the show, signed off on the Kickstarter campaign. Normally, the fundraising site is aimed at nickel-and-dime independents. "Hallelujah! It's a green light my friends," producer Rob Thomas tweeted. From Deadline's Jen Yamato:
That's testament to the power of a cult fandom to rally behind a property, even if some are wary of the precedent it sets for studios entering (and profiting from) the crowdfunding space. It will be interesting to see how Warner Bros. pitches in as Thomas eyes a summer start. I'm told the extent of WB's involvement at present is in aiding with distribution, marketing, publicity and legal via Warner Bros. Digital Distribution, which will help with a limited theatrical release followed by On Demand via cable and satellite providers as well as digital retailers.
Meanwhile, industry watchers have spent the last week examining the two blockbusters that arrived at theaters on consecutive weekends. One, "Jack and the Giant Slayer," pretty much bombed, while the other, "Oz the Great and Powerful," is the year's first full-fledged hit. From this week's Business Update on KPCC:
Whatley: They're both based on classics and they're both big-budget films. Why does one make it and the other not make it?
Lacter: ...The next thing you're going to ask is why the stock market goes up or down. If only we knew. But, there are a few things the Oz movie has going for it, starting with the general view that's it's a somewhat better movie. Also, Disney put together a very effective marketing campaign, there's been a big presence on social media, and - maybe most important - moviegoers are crossing many demographic groups since everyone has seen the "Wizard of Oz," probably several times. And, it's not only Disney tapping into this popularity: Warner Bros., which actually owns the rights to the "Wizard of Oz" movie from 1939, is planning an Oz cable TV show and a re-release in 3D of the original. That's part of the studio business model: milking success right down to the last drop.