This was the question many Stargate fans were asking themselves yesterday after news broke of the astounding success of the Veronica Mars kickstarter campaign.
For those of you who haven’t heard, series creator Rob Thomas approached Warner Bros. about making a Veronica Mars movie. According to Thomas: “Their reaction was, if you can show there’s enough fan interest to warrant a movie, we’re on board.” Well, the fans stepped up and demonstrated their interest, pledging $1 million dollars (in a record 4 hours and 24 minutes) to the project’s kickstarter campaign [http://money.cnn.com/2013/03/13/technology/veronica-mars-kickstarter/index.html]. And, last time I checked, over 47000 backers had pledged close to 3 million dollars, about a million dollars over their goal – and this is only day #2 of their month-long drive! [http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/559914737/the-veronica-mars-movie-project].
It’s awesome news for Veronica Mars fans that has also energized fandom in general. Already, loyal viewers are asking about their own favorite shows [‘Veronica Mars’ Movie Funded…Could a ‘Chuck’ Movie be Next?! (Poll)]. Could a similar strategy work for us? Well, I suppose it depends.
Over at Forbes.com, Paul Tassi asks: “How did a show that’s been off the air for eight years raise two million dollars in barely half a day?”, and then proceeds to break down exactly how they pulled it off [http://www.forbes.com/sites/insertcoin/2013/03/14/how-exactly-did-veronica-mars-fund-a-movie-in-ten-hours/]. It offers great insight – and food for thought.
So how successful could a Stargate movie campaign prove if it attempted to follow the successful five-step strategy he outlines? Well, according to Paul, “There are a number of factors at work here, and they’re worth exploring in order to understand if this kind of thing can or will happen again…”
1. The fanbase must be religiously devoted
Check. There’s no doubt the Stargate fanbase is still strong and more than willing to support the franchise as evidenced by their continued involvement on fansites like Save Stargate Universe | Facebook, GateWorld | Your Complete Guide to Stargate!, and Stargate Solutions.
2. Get everyone on board ahead of time
Okay, proper planning is key but, in this case, it requires MUCH consideration. In the case of Veronica Mars, Rob Thomas and Kristen Bell approached the studio and cast first, and THEN started their campaign. Which is, of course, what would be required here. So, how interested would MGM be in a Stargate movie? That’s the biggest question. And the answer all comes down to economics. Would it be worth their while (aka – not only financially feasible but lucrative)? Will the potential rewards outweigh the risks? Five years ago, the answer would have been a resounding “Yes!” given the fact that Ark of Truth and Continuum surpassed expectations. But, of course, that was before the bottom fell out of the DVD market. Could alternate viewing platforms make up the shortfall? Streaming? Broadcasters? Maybe the big screen treatment?
Which brings us to another question – “What does MGM have planned for Stargate? – because, let’s face it, as one of their most successful franchises, it’s not going to lie fallow for long. Do they already have something in the works?
But, for the sake of argument, let’s say, it’s a best case scenario for fans of SG-1, Atlantis, and Universe. The studio proves amenable to the idea. Next up is ensuring we have a cast in place. So, which cast? SG-1? Atlantis? Universe? Or would it be a selective amalgamation of all three (which was Brad Wright’s original idea for an SGU movie)?
3. Offer rewards people want
Now this one is much easier to deliver on. I, for one, would be more than happy to send you a signed script, arrange a set visit, or deck you out in prosthetics before blasting you out an airlock if it would ensure your support.
4. Leverage social media
Are you kidding? Stargate fans are the kings (and queens) of social media. We’ll get word to them and they’ll get word to EVERYONE.
And finally 5. Understand that not everyone will be able to do this
Why not? Well, some former cast members may well be too busy to participate (Robert Carlyle now stars on Once Upon A Time while Jason Momoa has been burning up Hollywood post-SGA) while others may have simply moved on. Still, provided we manage to cross this particular bridge as well, there’s the question of money. To put it bluntly, we would need A LOT more money to produce a Stargate movie. A LOT more to pay for the construction of new sets (alas, the Destiny, Atlantis, and Stargate Command are no more and would have to be rebuilt from scratch) and visual effects (I haven’t read the script, but it’s unlikely the Veronica Mars movie will feature much in the way of space battles), not to mention other related costs like cast, crew, and the onset aerobics instructor for my pug, Bubba.
So, conservatively, three out of five aint bad – unless you’re looking to make a Stargate movie in which case it aint good either. Even if you could convince MGM to get onboard – and that’s a mighty big IF – there’s still the matter of the amount of money that would be required to produce a scifi movie. How much? Well, ballpark, I’d say significantly more than the 3 million dollars the Veronica Mars campaign has raised to date, but somewhat less than the $39 million dollars the Forbes article claims Serenity cost.
Certainly not impossible but, damn, them’s long odds!