When Veronica Mars, the CW's brilliant teen noir drama, ended its third season in 2007, we were told it was gone for good. As fans prepared to bury the CW premises in Mars bars and marshmallows, borrowing the tactics of the successful Jericho nuts campaign, they were quickly instructed not to bother. The cancellation was final.
It was a bitter pill for those of us who regarded the show as an all-time great. While rumours of a Veronica Mars movie have come and gone over the years, nothing substantial ever emerged. Until yesterday – when a Kickstarter project devised by the showrunner Rob Thomas to fund the movie, which aimed to collect $2m in pledges in a month, far exceeded that total in its first day. At 8.30am, the tally stood at $2.5m: Thomas asked the fans how badly they wanted the movie and the response was emphatic.
Crowdfunding artistic projects is not a new concept, but this is already the largest film Kickstarter has ever helped launch. The show's star, Kristin Bell, said: "If we reach our fundraising goal, we'll shoot the movie this summer." It's blunt "build it and they will come" Hollywood logic. In the pitch video the show's stars mooch around Bell's Hollywood home, wondering how they will ever make a Veronica Mars movie. It carefully balances an affectionate tribute to the show, featuring its signature voiceover, sexual tension and snappy dialogue, with the necessary direct Bob Geldof-style appeal to hand over the cash.
The success of the venture will put other TV shows with orphaned but ferociously loyal fan bases on alert. They may see their show get a shot at resurrection. The idea of a new series of Firefly would send many into a frenzy, and it's a racing certainty Community fans will be mobilised in a similar manner once its run ends.
All of a sudden anything seems possible. Prise Claire Danes away from Homeland and Jared Leto away from 30 Seconds to Mars and the My So-Called Life sequel is on. Maybe?
Of course, the brutal realities of the box office still apply. Fans might be devoted, but they still weren't large enough in number to keep the show on the air. Release a movie that only appeals to the converted and you're essentially in the business of writing very expensive fanfiction. And it also has to be said that many shows in the networks' graveyards ran out of ideas long before they ever got culled. Diehard fans might not see it, but sometimes not returning is the best thing that ever happens to the legacy of the show.
And yet it's hard not to be excited by Veronica Mars's success.
Hollywood's gatekeepers have seen countless projects wither on the vine or get stuck in development hell. That any film project can be greenlit in the space of 24 hours opens up possibilities for scripts that would never get produced through traditional routes. Some think it unjust that the giant Warner Bros, which owns the rights to Veronica Mars, needs fans to provide venture capital, but as the company never believed the movie was financially viable it is at least a chance for fans to prove it wrong.
So what's your verdict on the Veronica Mars Kickstarter? Is it a game changer, breathing new life into cult shows everywhere, or just shameless corporate panhandling? And what other shows could benefit from a similar crowdfunding boost?
This article originally appeared on guardian.co.uk