The Movie Waffler Social Media Propels <i>Veronica Mars</i> Film Project | The Movie Waffler

Social Media Propels Veronica Mars Film Project

You’re likely to be familiar, if only in passing, with the new Veronica Mars film.
It attracted worldwide attention last year when the film’s star Kristen Bell and writer and creator Rob Thomas used some unconventional means to fund the project: mainly, their fans. The duo launched the most successful Kickstarter campaign of the site’s history in order to help finance their passion project, which is a continuation of the short lived, cult hit television show of the same name. Now that the film has hit theaters and done relatively well for itself, many are now looking at the film industry through another light, that of consumer power through social media.
First though, some background. Veronica Mars debuted on the now defunct UPN network back in 2004 to relatively solid ratings and critical praise. The show aired for two seasons on the network, before switching over to The CW following the UPN/WB merge. It didn’t fare as well on the new network and in 2007 execs opted to cancel the show after its third season.
Following the show’s cancellation, Thomas decided to write a script for a feature film, hoping Warner Brothers would allow him to continue Veronica’s story for her loyal fans. However, Warner Brothers had no interest in the project - after all they had just cancelled the show. Thomas told Entertainment Weekly back in 2008 he was forced to put the script on a backburner while he focused on other projects.
Fast forward to 2013 and Thomas, alongside Bell, finally received the approval of Warner Brothers to launch a Kickstarter campaign. The two hoped interest from fans would convince the studio giant to invest money into the film. Warner Brothers, as it turns out, was very, very wrong about believing the show had too small of a fanbase to create a revenue. Within the first 11 hours of the campaign, Bell and Thomas had already met their $2 million goal and by the end of the 30 day campaign, they had raised more than $5.7 million, making it Kickstarter’s fastest campaign to ever reach its goal, as well as the campaign with the most individual donors ever, 91,585 to be exact.
The argument certainly can be made that Veronica Mars exists almost entirely due to social media. Even major movie studios aren’t impervious to the impact of the interconnected era we live in. The entire Kickstarter campaign started with one tweet from Thomas, and the campaign was heavily promoted through the Veronica Mars Twitter account, with actress Kristen Bell also weighing in. That, of course, doesn’t take into account the fans who made the entire project possible with thousands of tweets and retweets about the project.
Even though the film has been in theaters for two weeks, the fans are still working the promotional side by posting on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and other modes of social media. According to social media analytics from ViralHeat, this past weekend the number of tweets mentioning the film still doubled between Thursday and Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, despite the film being past its debut weekend.
To say the success of this film, which has so far brought in about $2.8 million at the box office, could be inspiring other filmmakers is perhaps an understatement. While we haven't seen any immediate reaction to it from the film industry, the Veronica Mars story certainly shows the potential of fan determination. The use of crowdfunding is a technique that independent filmmakers have been using for years, but never for a film that was already owned by a major studio. If fans too, are now more willing to throw in support for their favorite, yet-to-be-made, works from major studies, we may begin to see some major changes in the large studio filmmaking world.

Spencer Blohm