One of the biggest stories in the entertainment world in the last month has been the unstoppable support given to the long-ago cancelled television series “Veronica Mars.“
Fans have rallied behind show creator Rob Thomas, not just with enthusiasm, but with dollars to make a feature film version happen.
Thomas’s Veronica Mars Movie Project campaign on the crowdfunding site Kickstarter raked in over $5.7 million, almost three times as much as its goal, becoming the most backed project in Kickstarter history.
Thomas has wanted to make a “Mars” movie ever since the show got cancelled back in 2007, but Warner Brothers, the studio who owns the rights, wasn’t interested. When Thomas approached Warner Brothers with his Kickstarter scheme earlier this year, they said they would make the film if he could muster the money, which would thus indicate there is an audience that could bring in box office dollars.
“Veronica Mars” isn’t the only show, or film, or artistic undertaking, with a small but devoted fan base to fall victim to profit margins. Here in Canada, many projects tend to have a very short time in the sun before funds run dry or companies decide to pull the plug if something isn’t bringing in “Real Housewives” or “Dragon’s Den” advertising rates. It’s happening across the arts industry. The book and publishing industry is shrinking, television networks prefer low-cost reality programs over scripted series, movie execs go for guaranteed superhero blockbusters, and deep-pocketed theatre producers are nearly an extinct species. Fewer companies are taking chances and artists are left to fund their endeavours independently.
And so they do. Thousands of projects have been funded on Kickstarter, and in Canada on Indiegogo. From television pilots and post-production work on documentaries, to multimedia art pieces and translations of stageplays, everybody’s got a project that’s ready for the world to see, so long as it gets a little cashola to make it happen.
For independent artists, crowdfunding can be one of the few means to see a project to fruition. But what about projects like “Veronica Mars,” where a company worth billions owns the rights to the material but won’t fork over a few million to make a film that has demonstrated it will have an audience? Are we enabling massive companies to swindle us, first by getting us to pay to produce a film, television project, or whatever, and then by flashing our credit cards again when we want to go see the final product in theatres, or buy the book, or watch it on Netflix?
Somehow it feels like consumers are getting double fleeced. Then again, I don’t think those “Mars” fans really care. Their love is that unwavering.