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Veronica Mars is an American mystery television series that aired from September 2004 through May 2007. The series details the life of the title character, played by Kristen Bell, who is a high school student that also moonlights as a private investigator with her father Keith, played by Enrico Colantoni. During the third season hiatus in 2007, fans of the show known as “Cloud Watchers” organized several online campaigns to call for the renewal of the production. In March 2013, the show broke several Kickstarter records after creator Rob Thomas launched a campaign to fund a full-length feature film based on the series, which was released on March 14th, 2014.
Rob Thomas originally wrote Veronica Mars as a young adult novel, which was sold as “Untitled Rob Thomas Teen Detective Novel” with a male protagonist. However, after realizing television scripts were much easier for him to write, he rewrote the project for television over the span of a year and changed the main character to a female for a more unique perspective. The first two seasons chronicle Mars’ high school life, typically following a “case of the week” format with a larger case that would last for several episodes or the entire season. The third season, in which Mars begins her first year of college, focused on two separate story arcs, followed by five standalone episodes. Mars’ character is also notable for her snarky mannerisms (shown below):
As early as September 2008, creator Rob Thomas had discussed making a full-length feature film based on the series but by July 2009, actress Kristin Bell told Entertainment Weekly that Warner Brothers producer Joel Silver informed her and Thomas that there was “no enthusiasm” on making the film. In January 2010, Thomas again confirmed that he would write the film if he could find someone to finance it. On February 14th, 2013, Kristen Bell tweeted a photo of herself with Rob Thomas (shown below) at the Warner Brothers Studios, leading many fans on Tumblr to suspect something related to Veronica Mars was going on. This was reinforced later in the month when she tweeted a second photo of herself with former co-stars Enrico Colantoni and Max Greenfield attending a hockey game.
SO great hanging with the wonderful
<a href="https://twitter.com/robthomas">robthomas</a> yesterday ! He is simply the best. Happy Vday and ill see u soon rob.… <a href="http://t.co/J4haScsK" title="http://say.ly/ano5b5V">say.ly/ano5b5V</a></p>— Kristen Bell(IMKristenBell) February 14, 2013
On March 12th, 2013, Bell tweeted about an interview she and Thomas did, telling readers to “tune in tomorrow” for news. The following morning, Entertainment Weekly published the exclusive interview announcing a Kickstarter campaign looking to raise $2 million dollars to fund a Veronica Mars film.
Within 20 minutes, the Kickstarter raised more than $12,000. The campaign broke several records the first day, reaching $1 million in 4 hours and 24 minutes and $2 million in 10 hours. Despite this, many online commentators were split over the Kickstarter campaign. The Atlantic criticized the major studio production for using a method that is typically reserved for independent filmmakers, while other critics expressed skepticism that this may be a one-off opportunity for cancelled properties. Meanwhile, other writers and actors involved with short-lived TV show projects saw this as an opportunity, including Pushing Daisies creator Bryan Fuller and Chuck star Zachary Levi. As of 3 p.m. (EST) on March 15th, the Kickstarter has raised more than $3.3 million dollars and is trending towards raising more than $30 million if pledges continue to roll in at their current rate.
Similar to other cult-status shows like Community, Veronica Mars proved to be a critical success despite its low ratings, receiving praise from entertainment news sites and blogs including The Boston Phoenix, LA Weekly, The Chicago Sun-Times, Village Voice, TIME and Salon. The show only averaged 2.4 million viewers per season. In April 2007, a fansourced collection of essays about the series edited by Rob Thomas titled Neptune Noir was published, followed by a 2011 compilation of academic papers on the show titled Investigating Veronica Mars.
On March 14th, 2014, the film adaptation of Veronica Mars was released for the general public in the theaters and instant streaming via the distributor Warner Brothers’ video-on-demand service Flixster for those who contributed $35 and more. However, many of those who were promised same-day online access soon began complaining about having to watch the film on Flixster, the instant streaming service owned by the film’s distributor Warner Bros, as opposed to other more popular options like Netflix and Amazon. Later that same day, the Kickstarter organizer Rob Thomas posted an update to address the complaint, offering those who are eligible for instant streaming a complete $10 refund or a $10 rebate if the viewer wishes to download the film on a streaming platform of his/her choice.
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In March 2005, MarsInvestigations.net launched, containing an episode guide, information about the soundtrack, character profiles and an FAQ about important mysteries throughout the series. In 2006, a blog dedicated to Mars’ fashion on the show launched, but was only active for two months. In March of that year, UPN held a Veronica Mars Blogger Press Day, inviting television bloggers who enjoyed the show to the set to watch an episode be filmed and meet the cast and crew. Though many of these blogs have since been deleted, reviews of this press day can still be found on Give Me My Remote (shown below) and The Vast Wasteland. As of March 2013, fans of the show convene on Tumblr, Reddit, deviantART and Pinterest to share images and fan art from Veronica Mars. A Facebook fan page for the show, launched in February 2011, has nearly 310,000 fans as of March 2013.
Following rumors of the show’s cancellation in early May 2006, Veronica Mars fans on the Television Without Pity forums banded together to form the group Cloud Watchers, using a LiveJournal community as its home base. In a week, more than 100 Cloud Watchers raised more than $7000 dollars, using a large chunk of the money to rent a plane that would fly over the CW offices asking to save the show (shown below) on May 9th, 2006, the night of Veronica Mars’ second season finale. The group also sent graduation bouquets and care packages to be delivered the same day and raised money throughout the year to donate 500 DVD sets to libraries in all 50 states, with another 100 donated by May 2007.
In an email to a member of Cloud Watchers, Rob Thomas expressed his appreciation for the flyover. On May 16th, 2006, Thomas emailed members of Cloud Watchers again to let them know that the show had been renewed. Entertainment Weekly also confirmed the renewal that week, noting it was picked up for 22 episodes, which would be cut down to 13 if the show underperformed. The group took action again in June 2007 with a campaign to send Mars Bars candy to the CW to try to convince them to keep the show., but the show was still cancelled.
Hollywood Reporter – Has ‘Veronica Mars’ Ushered in a New Era of Movie Development?
The Atlantic – Is the ‘Veronica Mars’ Kickstarter a One-Hit Wonder?
LiveJournal – cloud-watchers: Drinking the kool-aid – flower power
The Vast Wasteland – Veronica Mars Bloggers’ Press Day: Impressions and General Squees