'Veronica Mars' Will Have a Hard Time Winning Over Mainstream Audiences
We as a culture have exactly one month and a day until the Veronica Mars movie hits us. If you were a fan of Veronica Mars's initial 2004-2007 run on UPN/The CW or have caught up in the time since, this is probably the source of unapologetic excitement. It's this contingent (of which I am a diehard member) that tends to perk up every time a new Veronica Mars movie clip pops up, as it has this week in the form of Mac, Keith, and Wallace, all of whom I have missed the faces of very much.
If you're part of the other group — the group of people who may be pop culture literate but who've never paid much attention to Veronica Mars — then you may still be perking your ears towards this movie: TV shows being resurrected from their deep dark graves does happen from time to time, after all, but it's still rare enough to be a novelty worth noting.
And it's this latter group, actually, that Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas will likely need to tap into if he wants to ensure that Veronica's a hit this time — in the box office.
This week's issue of Entertainment Weekly features a Veronica Mars cover story (get a load of Jason Dohring on that cover, devouring that marshmallow in much the same way that Logan Echolls devoured our hearts), and an accompanying interview with Thomas and Kristen Bell pointed to some of the ways the film's had to remold itself in order to operate as something capable of captivating a larger audience than the boutique but devoted fans who helped ensure the series remained remembered for long enough to bring the story back to life. As Thomas notes, “We’re guinea pigs for a whole new model of filmmaking. It would be nice to be a success.”
This is, of course, what test screenings and additional shoots are for: After test screenings this past fall, it had become clear that there were certain things about this story, its characters, and its themes, that longtime fans of the show would pick up on right away that newbies just wouldn't — so they went back and shot scenes that would better connect the subplot to the main one, as well as a prologue that would more thoroughly establish Veronica's role as heroine, and scenes which exhibited the "social injustice, stark class division, and corruption" of Neptune, Calif. as a town, all of which were crucial elements to the original series.
Few have had to pull off what Thomas has to: he's walking a cross-platform tightrope in front of an audience and a media that are very invested in the outcome. In fact, if he hasn't already, he should probably ring up Joss Whedon (though the dude's a little busy), because he once had to attempt to pull off something exceedingly similar when he tasked himself with bringing Firefly to the big screen in the form of Serenity.
Introducing established characters to an audience comprised of people who'll push back if you spend too much time trotting old ground as well as people who won't be able to fully invest in the story without access to the proper foundation? Ensuring that the elements that made the initial series so beloved are present and accounted for, while also allowing for forward momentum and for the film to exist as its own entity? It's more difficult than it looks, and it looks pretty difficult. Serenity, for its part, didn't perform all that well at the box office.
Will the legacy of the Veronica Mars movie rest on whether it rakes in the big bucks opening weekend? No. And the legacy of the series itself certainly won't. The fate of future Veronica Mars ventures, however? That is something definitely affected by the film's performance, both financially and in the eyes of the fans who helped to fund this outing.
As we wait this final month before finding out the fate of Veronica Mars, though, it's best not to stress about the numbers — for Veronica Mars fans it's best to just bask in the father-daughter banter present in this most recent clip, Mac's awesome and edgy haircut, how fly Wallace looks, and how weirdly cute it is that Veronica's P.I. senses aren't quite tuned enough anymore to realize when her friends have tricked her into attending their high school reunion.
Image: Warner Bros.