After five years of “what ifs” and “maybes” and “we’d like tos” and various other forms and hemming and/or hawing, the feature film follow-up to the much-beloved, low-rated TV masterpiece (I do not throw that word around lightly!) Veronica Mars is finally really going to happen — thanks to a studio-approved Kickstarter campaign to raise preliminary funds that pretty much wildly exceeded anyone’s expectations. Of course, any silver cloud must have a gray lining, and the project’s tricky intermingling with the kind of Faceless Bad Corporation the platform was ostensibly created to circumvent has already prompted plenty of hand-wringing. But the project’s remarkable Kickstarter success (it reached its goal in ten hours) is a testament to the feverish nature of the show’s fans — and is, in fact, a good way for said fans to prove to the holders of rights (and purse-strings) that they’re serious about supporting the films they’re passionate about. So, could other long-desired films adopt a similar approach? After the jump, we suggest ten more cult films that could finally find their way to the big screen by following Veronica’s lead.
This one’s a pretty obvious choice, since it was co-created by Mars mastermind Rob Thomas (along with John Enbom, Dan Etheridge, and your pretend boyfriend Paul Rudd) and featured Ryan “Dick Casablancas” Hansen, in addition to guest shots for Mars regulars like Kristen Bell and Enrico Colantoni. The show ran for two ten-episode seasons with a first-rate ensemble cast including Adam Scott, Lizzy Caplan, Martin Starr, Ken Marino, Jane Lynch, and Megan Mullally, and every half-hour was a gem. Unfortunately, Party Down was barely seen in its original run (on Starz, a network not exactly renowned for its original comedy programming), only finding its audience on DVD and Netflix Instant. In the years since, reunions have been held and hints have been dropped, but the original show’s microscopic ratings would presumably cause financiers to hesitate. Once Thomas has finished the Mars movie, he might want to go the crowd-funded way for the film version of his other cult TV fave.
Sure, we got an unexpected third season on Netflix — which, lest we forget, was intended to set up the long-awaited Arrested Development movie. Trouble is, though we might be closer to that film narratively, we’re no closer to it financially. As creator Mitchell Hurwitz explained earlier this week, AD Season 4 is “Act I of this bigger story that we have, in a lot of detail, for the movie. What we don’t have is a movie deal. Know anybody?” We know a lot of people — millions of AD fans who would surely pony up a few bucks in advance to see a Bluth family flick (especially after catching up with them on Netflix).
It’s not just that Shawn Ryan’s much-loved, less-watched, single-season FX series could pull a Mars — it’s that Thomas may well have swiped the idea from Ryan, who said last summer, “I’ve had friends who’ve raised money for indie movies through Kickstarter and I started to think that if you wanted to make a two-hour movie that capped off that series, how much would it cost to make it and would there be a way to raise the money via a combination of Netflix and Kickstarter.” While Terriers doesn’t boast quite the same fan base as Veronica, those who love it really love it, and Fox, which also owns the rights to Arrested Development, has proven amenable to this kind of experiment.
When HBO pulled the plug on David Milch’s critically acclaimed Western drama back in 2006, fans were shocked — especially since its third and final season hadn’t ended with anything resembling closure. But within a month, the networks was assuring fans that it wasn’t over after all, thanks to a pair of two-hour Deadwood movies that would wrap up the series. For the next several years, fans waited and hoped, but prospects looked dimmer and dimmer; about a year ago, Milch told Vulture that he didn’t see it happening: “We got really close about a year ago. Never say never, but it doesn’t look that way.” HBO has such a strange model for supply and demand that we’re not sure what a Kickstarter would prove, but hey, if Milch says “never say never,” then we say, “get to it.”
The word Firefly has been uttered pretty frequently in the “what could this mean?” discussions of Mars’ Kickstarter success, but who’re we kidding: the cast of Joss Whedon’s 2002 sci-fi/Western series is way too busy to take on a follow-up to the show’s first feature film follow-up, Serenity (to say nothing of the filmmaker himself), and the kind of budget you’d need to mount a credible sequel to that space opera is way out of a Kickstarter’s reach (even when you factor in the intensity of Whedonites). But maybe, in between projects, we could get a Kickstarter-funded return to the world of Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, the wonderful three-episode Web series that Whedon self-produced back in 2008?
The Man Who Killed Don Quixote
Terry Gilliam’s dream project is one of Hollywood’s most notorious unmade movies; he’s been working on it, off and on, for more than a decade, and his first attempt to shoot it collapsed days in (as chronicled in the fascinating documentary Lost in La Mancha). In the years since, he’s kept trying to get Don Quixote made — his most recent attempt, with Ewan McGregor and Robert Duvall in the leading roles, fell apart in 2010, again due to financing issues. What’s sad about the entire process is that Gilliam keeps having to rely on shaky investors abroad to get the movie made; he has a reputation for out-of-control spending and alienating audiences, but has proven himself capable of making studio movies that stay under budget and turn a tidy profit (remember 12 Monkeys?). Maybe a fan-funded start to Don Quixote could convince Hollywood to take a chance on the visionary director again.
We try not to think too much about David Lynch’s self-imposed exile from feature filmmaking, since it immediately bums us out and then sends us scurrying to our Mulholland Drive DVDs. But we hold out hope that Lynch is less retiring than recharging, and that the right kind of “back to his roots” project could get him back in action. For that purpose, we propose Ronnie Rocket, the famously unmade Lynch script that he intended to direct after Eraserhead and continued to develop through the 1980s, before eventually letting it go in the early ‘90s. But he still mentions the film often, indicating that if he were to finally make it, he’d want to do it in the style of Eraserhead: homemade, using a small crew and doing much of the design work himself (that’s his concept art above). Sounds like a perfect Kickstarter project to us.
Buckaroo Banzai Against the World Crime League
The end credits for W.D. Richter’s sci-fi/action/comedy The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension promise a sequel, Buckaroo Banzai Against the World Crime League — but as the makers of Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins can tell you, setting up a series and making enough money to warrant one are two entirely different things. Opening in the tough summer of 1984 (against the likes of Ghostbusters, Gremlins, and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom), Banzai pulled a meager $6.2 million at the box office, putting the kibosh on a sequel. But it found a fervent cult audience on VHS (and, later, DVD); it even pulled a slot on Entertainment Weekly’s list of the best cult movies ever made. Sure, nearly 30 years have passed, but do you think its fans are gonna mind?
Bubba Nosferatu: Curse of the She-Vampires
You wouldn’t think that the story of an elderly Elvis (who switched places with an impersonator before his “death”) and an aged black JFK battling an Egyptian mummy would exists outside of a fever dream, much less that it would be an oddly charming and often funny indie wonder. But that’s the case with Bubba Ho-Tep, writer/director Don Coscarelli’s 2002 horror comedy. Coscarelli has been trying for years to make Bubba Nosferatu, a sequel that finds Elvis and his manager Colonel Tom Parker battling a coven of Louisiana vampires, off the ground — yet in spite of the efforts of Oscar nominee Paul Giamatti (a Bubba enthusiast who has agreed to play Parker), it still hasn’t happened. “We’ll definitely get Bubba Nosferatu made,” Giamatti insisted, back in 2008. “It’s just a question of when and where.” The pair collaborated on Coscarelli’s John Dies at the End, but Bubba Nosferatu, stubbornly, remains unmade.
Dusk at Cubist Castle
Athens, Georgia-based Elephant 6 mainstays Olivia Tremor Control released their first album, Music from the Unrealized Film Script: Dusk at Cubist Castle back in 1996, and the ambitious neo-psychedelic album was a critical fave; Pitchfork slotted it at #39 in their rundown of the best albums of the 1990s. For years, rumors have circulated that its title wasn’t just a rhetorical flourish — that there really was a Dusk at Cubist Castle script (or at least an idea) to be made. If so, OTC certainly have the kind of enthusiastic fanbase that would donate, big time, to the long-desired film’s fundraising appeal.
Those are some of the movies we think could finally happen thanks to Kickstarter. What would you add?