Ross Lincoln contributes to Deadline’s Comic-Con coverage

Will the Kickstarter-funded Veronica Mars movie end up a hit? The track record of crowdfunded projects is too mixed to tell, but if the response from attendees of today’s Comic-Con panel is any indication, the risk might just pay off. The panel featured the main cast including star Kristen Bell as well as director and series creator Rob Thomas, who revealed that the feature film based on the WBTV series that ran from 2004-2007 will aim to heavily reward fans for their dedication. Thomas, after quipping that the film has a “Godfather III feel to it”, said he wanted to tell the story he thinks fans want. “I know the pleasure centers of viewers of the show, and I wrote to them,” he said. Later he said that while the film will be accessible to new viewers, it will be packed with “fun little Easter eggs” and “lots of references” for longtime fans.

Related: Hot Comic-Con Trailer: ‘Veronica Mars’

The panel began with a featurette thanking fans for their contributions to the Kickstarter project — the funding drive was a smashing success, notching its $2M initial goal within 10 hours of launching in March and finishing with 91,585 backers contributing $5,702,153 to the feature film. A trailer then was shown that featured a healthy amount of never-before-seen footage. It was short on plot details — aside from revealing that Veronica (Bell) hasn’t worked as a private detective in some time — but at least confirms the film will retain the dialogue and screwball comedy pacing of the series. Fans in the audience lapped it up.

douwe
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Joss Whedon didn't make a mistake with Serenity . It was made as a tribute to the...
JaySmack
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Warner Bros Digital is aiding in distribution and production is on a torrid pace — the movie has been shooting for 23 days and wraps Monday. “We knew how much money we had,” Thomas said about the production, “and maybe the smart way to do it was to do like an Agatha Christie — everyone in a house thing. That’s not what we did. We made an ambitious, sprawling low-budget movie… we are having to move fast because we want it to feel big.” That budget matters: Veronica Mars is following the precedent set by Joss Whedon’s cancelled series Firefly, which was revived in the 2005 theatrical film Serenity. The film was not a success, though, barely breaking even on its $39 million budget and proving that a devoted fanbase does not translate into a solid return on investment.

If Veronica Mars does end up a hit, it could set a new precedent of using crowdsourcing in lieu of normal investment. At least at first: “I hope we make a ton of money and fund (the sequel) by the normal channels,” Thomas said. “I love Kickstarter but I don’t think it’s supposed to fund huge hits.”