Ever since the CW canceled the show that made her famous in 2007, Kristen Bell has been routinely asked the same question by journalists and fans alike: Will we ever see Veronica Mars again? A movie? A puppet show? Something? Perhaps another star would be bugged (move on, people!), but not Bell. Turns out the actress wanted exactly what the show’s faithful wanted. ”I’d do anything to be with Veronica again,” says Bell, whose life after Veronica Mars has included movies like Forgetting Sarah Marshall and TV work on Showtime’s House of Lies. ”And now it’s very nice and very satisfying to finally have an answer for them.”
That’s because the wish to see Bell’s smart, sophisticated, steel-tough, and sharply witty neo–Nancy Drew crack more knotty, naughty mysteries is about to become a dream come true — provided that fans are willing to pay a few dollars more than just the price of a movie ticket. Bell and Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas tell EW exclusively that they’ve launched a Kickstarter campaign (called ”Veronica Mars — The Movie”). The goal: to raise $2 million in 30 days, and — here’s the really exciting part — should they reach their goal, Warner Bros. Digital Distribution has agreed to put the movie into production and pick up the tab for marketing, promotion, and distribution. It would be released next spring for a limited-time theatrical run before going to VOD, iTunes, and other digital platforms. Kickstarter investors will receive goodies (but no ownership stake), and the bigger the investment, the bigger the return. Ten bucks will get you a PDF of the script; $25 entitles you to a ”Veronica Mars — The Movie” T-shirt; and the maximum donation ($10,000) will earn you a speaking role in the film.
Thomas and Bell want to begin production in June. The rest of the original cast are game to appear (schedules permitting), including Enrico Colantoni as Veronica’s private-investigator pops, Keith Mars, and Jason Dohring as broody bad boy Logan Echolls. Set a decade after the show’s third and final season, the plot has Veronica returning to her hometown of Neptune, Calif., after much schooling (a bachelor’s from Stanford; a Columbia Law School degree) when she gets a distress call from ex-boyfriend Logan: His pop-star girlfriend has been murdered, and he’s the prime suspect.
Kickstarter doesn’t charge donors until campaigns reach their goals. In other words: It’s $2 million or nothing. Promises Bell: ”Rob will be making sure it’s a good movie. I will be making sure it’s a good T-shirt. So quality is guaranteed!” Thomas says he’ll be finishing the script during the campaign — and making adjustments as the fund (hopefully) grows. ”There will be a Neptune High School class reunion. If we’re doing really well, a brawl is going to break out. If we’re barely getting over the finish line, then just terse words will be exchanged,” he says with a laugh.
If the words ”Veronica Mars” are alien to you…well, it’s kinda your fault. The series — which launched in 2004 as a high school drama that dealt intelligently with themes of class and race and featured a well-constructed season-long murder mystery — received great acclaim and endorsements from famous fans Joss Whedon, Kevin Smith, and Stephen King. Yet the show could never convert raves into higher ratings; it averaged 2.5 million viewers over the course of three seasons. According to Thomas, Hollywood heavyweight Joel Silver, the show’s exec producer, presented him with two options: They could probably produce a straight-to-DVD movie, or they could pitch Warner Bros. (which owns the property) on a big- budget feature. Thomas didn’t want to do the former, and the studio initially said no to the latter.
But Bell says she remained confident Veronica would live again. ”I always felt we could somehow scrape it together, because we’re a pretty creative bunch. What I didn’t know was if it was going to be before I was a grandma!” says the actress, 32, who is currently expecting her first child with fiancé Dax Shepard.
The Kickstarter epiphany came to Thomas in 2011 when he watched the band Cotton Mather — whose song ”Lily Dreams On” was featured in Veronica‘s season 1 finale — raise more than $10,000 for a record release through the crowdsourcing service. Bell dug the idea too. ”I think Kickstarter is such a great way to do it because it really puts the power in the hands of the fans,” she says. ”They get to support what they want to see.” The new financing plan won over Warner Bros. Digital, which has released original projects from filmmakers like Bryan Singer and McG. In February 2012, Thomas and Bell enlisted Mars-mates Dohring, Colantoni, and Ryan Hansen to shoot a video for the campaign. (Thomas and Bell wanted to launch the Kickstarter page last spring, but Warner Bros. opted to slow things down; according to Thomas, the studio needed to vet the business model more thoroughly before moving forward.)
If all goes well, investor-fans might get their first look at what their money has wrought at Comic-Con this summer: Thomas and Bell want to attend, ideally with footage in hand. ”I hope this is the start of a franchise. I hope we’re Batman!” says Thomas. ”Spoiler alert! Veronica doesn’t die.” Bell also hopes this is just the beginning of Veronica 2.0. ”I would do anything with these buffoons,” she says. ”Veronica Mars is the most fun I have ever had. It has shaped not just my career but who I am as a person. I would do it forever.” If you’re a fan and feel the same way, you know what to do. C’mon now, sugar! Just show them the sugar.