Actress Kristen Bell misses her old TV series 'Veronica Mars' and wants it as a theatrical movie for the fans.

Funny thing about those TV series that struggle in the ratings, get bounced around by the “mean” networks and wind up in the graveyard- only to be resurrected again somehow by a growing devoted fanbase. I don’t think it’s a bad thing for a group of folks to have a devotion to a show or film. I do think, however, it is a mistake to overestimate those numbers. I’m always baffled when I hear about a dead film franchise or two that makes the claim “we did it for the fans” yet nobody questions anything when the “fans” don’t show up for a feature film based on that show or franchise. Recently, WB was offered up such a proposal, and shot it down. In this case, the short-lived show is Veronica Mars, and the main cheerleader is none other than that show’s lead actress, Kristen Bell.
From Us Magazine:

After posting a series of requests asking fans to sign an online petition, Bell called upon the show’s producer Dan Etheridge and series creator Rob Thomas to join in on the action.

One hitch: “Unfortunately [The WB] owns the rights. They gotta make it, or set it free! We would be happy to make it privately!” Bell tweeted. “WB says their research shows the movie won’t have an audience; I disagree. Currently figuring out how to show them.”

A die hard Veronica Mars worshipper with a Kristen Bell shrine might buy a round of shots for all their friends at this kind of talk. I’m not one of them, but even if I was, I wouldn’t buy anyone a round. Not because I wouldn’t want them to drink up, but because WB is right.
Granted, I think if pitched as a direct to video film through Warner Premiere (the WB sub that specializes in DTV sequels and films) I don’t think it may be an issue. Of course, part of an appeal could be lost as Miss Mars would most likely be out of high school by now and in (at least) a college campus of some sort. But that’s storywise. Fan-wise, I think studios are taking a hard look at this sort of thing. If it is a limited fanbase, a low budget DTV movie could be fine. True fans could rent the film, and if it is any good, buy it. The question WB faced with, however, is that is ‘Veronica’ worthy of a bigger budgeted theatrical film?

The smart answer at this time is ‘no’. I was (and still am) a Twin Peaks fan. Bookhouse Boy til the day I die, as far as I’m concerned. Went to see Fire Walk With Me at the theater. Full price too. I was pumped. I figured I was going to see where that cliffhanger left off. I, and about ten other people in the theater that night (not counting ushers) were not upset that we felt a little shortchanged. It wasn’t a terrible movie. It answered questions nobody really gave two hoots about, it never got around to the questions ‘the fans’ wanted answered or moving the story forward. Fire Walk With Me flopped hard and it was sad to see it go out like that. Perhaps WB even looked at a more recent series,Firefly. Here you have a nice little sci-fi series with a network that bounced it around so much few could find it but it still got a following. Browncoats, they are called. Now I’m not the biggest Joss Whedon fan in the planet, but the pop culture geeks nearly consider him a deity. There are DIE-HARD Nathan Fillion fan clubs out there. At least I always liked Summer Glau. So a major studio listened to “the fans” and even put Joss as the director. The name of the film? Serenity. Who went to see it in the theater?

Nobody.

The studio executives at Universal were confused. I was blasted by some of my peers at the time for seeing the Jodie Foster thriller (along with scores of other people) Flightplan, which I thought was really good. I wanted to see it more than Serenity. I felt that the Whedon film would hang around because I hung around film geek type circles and thus I assumed it would hang around another week or two. I could not have been more wrong. Serenity flopped hard. Even if I seen it before I seen the Foster thriller it would not have made a difference. Now if everyone had skipped Flightplan, then yes, it would have. (Flightplan was the number one film that weekend) That wasn’t the case. The fact was clear: either the Firefly/Whedon fanbase were also fans/bigger fans of Jodie Foster and Sean Bean, OR…there wasn’t enough “browncoats” to begin with.

There is another problem. Despite the wonderful acting on Veronica Mars and the audacity of the CW bumping it in favor of a reality series (a Pussycat Dolls audition series no less) then dumping Bell’s show, Kristen Bell hasn’t had a great success as a lead actress in movies. The Sarah Marshall film seemed to be an exception, but she only reprised her role for a cameo in this past summer’s spinoff sequel, Get Him To The Greek. I liked her a lot in Fanboys, but that film had a rocky release schedule and barely made the screens. Her most recent film in the lead was the outright horrible When In Rome, which nobody saw- but I think the masses stayed away when they discovered one hit wonder Jon Heder was in it, doing his outdated Napoleon Dynamite act again for the millionth time.

Fact is, even though Bell is a good and underrated actress, he track record in the box office isn’t all that good, either by bad films (Rome) or films that deserve better fates (Fanboys, the brilliant David Mamet film Spartan) so it’s understandable to me why she crosses her fingers for a Veronica Mars film. It is her best role to date outside of Sarah Marshall. I think WB knows that too. I think they did the right thing in saying no- at least in the way it was proposed. The fans may have moved on. They would not mind a trip down memory lane, but I think they would like to see their favorite (or one of their favorite) actresses in newer and challenging roles. We know Miss Bell has the chops to do it. But there are some roles where an actor has to let go. Bell got on the map thanks to the show. Veronica Mars has done its work. It will always have a place in many hearts.

You don’t see Keri Russell begging for a Felicity reprisal. You don’t see the producers of American Dreams planning a feature length movie. There are many, many shows that have a fanbase of some kind. Just as long as folks keep in mind that the majority of them are canned for low ratings. Or reality shows.

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