Kickstarter’s First Project With Major Studio Support, Veronica Mars Movie Hits $1M In Record Time

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If you were a fan of the teen detective TV show Veronica Mars, this was an exciting morning — creator Rob Thomas launched a Kickstarter campaign to finance a Veronica Mars movie. (I’m a fan, and I’ve backed the project.)

But even if you didn’t watch the show, the campaign should be cause for some excitement. That’s because (as a Kickstarter spokesperson confirmed) this is the first project to have the blessing of a major movie studio. Thomas writes that if he succeeds in crowdfunding the production, Warner Bros. (which owns the rights) has agreed to distribute the film.

It’s a sign that major media companies are taking Kickstarter more seriously. And if this works out, it might become a model for studios to resurrect other properties with small-but-passionate audiences — the obvious choice among Internet geeks is probably Firefly, and I’m also rooting for Thomas’ other beloved-but-canceled show Party Down. (A couple of years ago Arrested Development would have been another popular choice, but it’s already being resurrected by Netflix.)

Here’s how Thomas described his discussions with the studio:

Of course, Warner Bros. still owns Veronica Mars and we would need their blessing and cooperation to pull this off. Kristen [Bell, star of Veronica Mars] and I met with the Warner Bros. brass, and they agreed to allow us to take this shot. They were extremely cool about it, as a matter of fact. Their reaction was, if you can show there’s enough fan interest to warrant a movie, we’re on board.

Veronica Mars ran from 2004 to 2007 on UPN and the CW. In the years since, Thomas has talked about bringing it back as a movie,  but he writes, “Warner Bros. wasn’t convinced there was enough interest to warrant a major studio-sized movie about Veronica and the project never got off the ground.”

Now, if the campaign gets funded, the plan is to shoot the movie this summer and release early next year, with a limited theatrical run followed by digital distribution. Prizes range from a PDF of the script to a speaking role as a waiter or waitress in the movie. (My personal favorite — you can pay $400 to have Thomas and Bell follow you on Twitter for a year.)

There’s an ambitious $2 million goal — other Kickstarter projects have raised more money, but when they did the goals were lower — and the team is actually hoping to raise more than that so that there’s a bigger budget. But things are definitely off to a good start. the campaign set a new Kickstarter record, raising $1 million in 4 hours and 24 minutes.

Update: Less than 12 hours after launching, the campaign has hit its $2 million goal.