The production of the long awaited Veronica Mars film is determined to keep being interesting. Back in early 2013, Rob Thomas launched a controversial Kickstarter campaign, calling on the television show’s committed fanbase to get the film financed. Now with unconventional beginnings come unconventional ends. Warner Brothers plans to release Veronica Mars theatrically and on Video On Demand simultaneously.
This release method isn’t exactly new. In recent years, independent studios have begun releasing films on VOD alongside limited theatrical runs in order to increase exposure. However, this is the first time a major US production studio has gone this route. Warner Brothers will be renting 260 screens from AMC Theatres to screen Veronica Mars across the country. Because the theaters are rented, it isn’t considered a standard theatrical release. Therefore, according to The Wall Street Journal, this practice doesn’t violate AMC’s 90-day window policy of not showing films that will be released on the home video market within 90 days.
Warner Brothers isn’t breaking new ground with Veronica Mars but it is borrowing from the playbook of the indie circuit. One of the biggest arguments against the Veronica Mars Kickstarter campaign was the idea that a film backed by a major studio shouldn’t be looking to fans to foot the bill. Independent filmmakers look to crowd-funding sites like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo because big studios aren’t an option, so when big studios start coming to those sites, the sense of unease is understandable. Veronica Mars‘s distribution is equally unusual for a big studio, but considerably less objectionable to indie filmmakers.
The words of Hollywood and indie filmmaking are getting closer and closer together. And it’s not just lower filmmaking costs that are democratizing the artform. On Demand, streaming, and downloading have become valid venues for film distribution and Hollywood is taking notice. Veronica Mars is probably not the future of mainstream Hollywood filmmaking. But it does represent a middle ground that didn’t exist before.