Even for noir, the Veronica Mars series ended on a remarkably melancholy note. The titular teenage detective, played with giddy resolve by Kristen Bell, was hopelessly torn between her bad-boy true love and the college boyfriend who went with her to hell and back. In the show’s final scene, she cast a ballot for her father for sheriff — just as he was implicated in a scandal that doomed his prospects forever. The last time we saw her, Veronica Mars was walking alone in the rain.

No wonder, then, that fans have been clamoring for a Hollywood ending ever since the CW declined to renew the cult-hit show for a fourth season. Warner Bros., which owned the rights to the series, declined to produce a movie: the show never attracted more than 3 million viewers, and prospects for success at the box office looked slim. But in the sort of plot twist that the series pulled off so capably, Bell and series creator Rob Thomas used their social-media savvy to finance the film themselves. In a landmark Kickstarter campaign, more than 91,000 fans donated a collective $5.7 million to bring Veronica Mars to the big screen. (Disclosure: I was one of them.)