'Veronica Mars' Movie: Kickstarter Backers Start Cashing in on $5.7 Million Pledge

Warner Bros.; Eric Doggett Studios
Kristen Bell will attend premieres in three cities. Inset: Rob Thomas

With a SXSW premiere and launch parties on both coasts, fans of what writer-director Rob Thomas calls the "world's smallest studio movie" are about to see how their money was spent.

This story first appeared in the March 14 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

The Veronica Mars movie made headlines last year for its landmark $5.7 million Kickstarter campaign. Now it's time to pay off its investors.

The crowdfunded film premieres at South by Southwest on March 8, and 151 donors (plus their plus-ones) who gave between $750 and $1,000 have been invited to Austin to attend a special screening. That will be followed by separate premieres for more than 250 donor-fans and guests with star/executive producer Kristen Bell, writer-director Rob Thomas and other cast in both New York and Los Angeles. Those perks are in addition to the T-shirts, signed posters, DVDs and scripts given to the 91,585 fans whose money footed the bulk of the bill. Warner Bros., which paid the rest, will release the adaptation of the CW/UPN series in roughly 270 theaters March 14, the same day it is available on VOD and for purchase. Thomas, who created the TV drama in 2004, says he's looking forward to meeting his moneymen (and women).

VIDEO: 'Veronica Mars' Movie First Two Minutes Released Online

"The most face-to-face time we've had so far in all of this was with the backers who were extras, and that's a pretty select crew," he adds. Thomas calls Mars the "world's smallest studio movie," though Warner Bros. ultimately put a few million dollars into the film, including making a two-minute prologue in which Bell summarizes events of the three-season series. That footage now is doubling as an ad. There's no talk of a sequel yet, but Bell is happy to slip back into the role: "I felt like a rebellious child for many of the seven years we were off the air."