It seemed like all 91,585 of the project’s Kickstarter donors were in attendance Friday for the Veronica Mars movie panel at Comic-Con International in San Diego. Hall H was filled with wall-to-wall screams when — even before the cast appeared — the first footage premiered.
And then creator Rob Thomas appeared on stage, accompanied by stars Kristen Bell, Francis Capra, Enrico Colantoni, Percy Daggs III, Jason Dohring (with a “Team Piz” T-shirt), Ryan Hansen, Chris Lowell (with a “Team Logan” T-shirt) and Tina Majorino, all greeted with roaring applause.
Thomas teased the premise for the movie, which he said had just two days left of shooting (they wrapped on the following Monday). “I can tell you that it sort of has… a Godfather III theme to it, which seems odd,” he offered. “But it is Veronica… she has not worked as a private detective since the last time you saw her in Season 3, and so part of the movie is her getting pulled back into this life that she thought she had left behind.”
According to Thomas, the movie is going to strike all the right chords for the dedicated Veronica Mars fans who pledged $5.7 million to get it made. “The story that I wanted to tell is the one that I think fans want to see,” he said. “I wanted to get the old gang back together. I kind of know what the pleasure zones are for Veronica Mars viewers, and I wrote to those.”
Bell shared a story about the day in 2007 when she learned the beloved CW television series had been canceled. “I found out the day before I shot the scene in [Forgetting] Sarah Marshall where Sarah Marshall talks about her series being canceled,” she said. “So it was really, really deep and hurtful for me to shoot that scene.”
Now that the project has been given new life on the big screen, what was it like to be back together again filming? Bell said, “It was with Jason, my first scene, and we just kind of kept staring at teach other like, ‘Are we really here now?'”
Audience members were delighted when they were made privy to Veronica and Dick’s first lines in the film. Bell said, “My first line back was, ‘Charming drink names — I can’t decide between a Beast with Two Backs and a Donkey Punch — oh, do you think they’d let me order a Virgin De-Virginator?'” And Dick’s first line? Hansen yelled, “Logan!”
So what of Lowell’s “Team Logan” shirt? It seems he was seeking redemption for his character’s romantically destructive ways. “I wore this shirt today just so I wouldn’t be shot when I stepped on stage, frankly,” he admitted. “I remember getting an email from Rob, like, ‘I think we’re bringing Piz back,’ and I was like, ‘The death threats have just stopped!” he exclaimed. “I’ve had some funky fan interactions, that’s true. I’ve definitely had fans approach me like I’ve ruined their relationship as well.”
Thomas shared an experience he had when he began writing the film. “I would get on my treadmill each day and watch an episode,” he said. “And I was watching all of Season 1, and we go to the Veronica/Logan first kiss — and I rewound it. And then rewound it. And then rewound it. And then, my wife entered and I had tears in my eyes. It was an embarrassing moment, that I’m watching my own work, a kiss. It just felt so earned to me. Yes, my wife caught me crying.”
During the audience Q&A, the actors were asked to name their favorite scene or episode of the series. Before divulging his answer, Hansen — not to be outdone by Dohring and Lowell — removed his shirt to reveal a “Team Dick” T-shirt beneath. “Anything with Jason [Dohring],” he said. “Jason was, like, my acting coach, he was amazing.”
Daggs said, “‘Lord of the Pies’ is great. And the snickerdoodle episode… My first snickerdoodle was on the show, and then Kristen had them bringing me snickerdoodles regularly, and then I got sick!”
Colatoni’s answer was more personal, explaining that he watched the show with his daughter and, “I kept catching her looking at me and back at Kristen and then me and back at Kristen. It was a wonderful moment to see how my daughter was associating my relationship with her.” He laughed and then added, “She’ll never ever have a dad like Keith Mars!”
So when can fans expect to get their big-screen Veronica fix? “The movie will come out early 2014 — that’s what we’re shooting for,” Thomas said. “We just signed a book deal for a couple new Veronica Mars books, the first of which will come out pretty close after the movie. It picks up where the movie left off.”
Thomas hopes there will be a second Veronica Mars movie, but he doesn’t necessarily want to return to Kickstarter to get it made. “I hope we make a ton of money on this movie and we get to do it the normal channels,” he said. “I loved doing it on Kickstarter, but if we’re a huge hit, I’m not sure if Kickstarter is meant to fund huge hits. I’d do it either way, honestly. Maybe next time the studio will just give us the money.”