Teenage witch Sabrina Spellman can solve almost any problem with good, old-fashioned pluck and a wave of her magic pointer finger… but she can’t make millions of dollars appear out of thin air.
On Monday, Melissa Joan Hart — the ’90s star best known for playing both Sabrina and sassy Clarissa Darling on two eponymous sitcoms — officially ended her attempt to fund a movie called Darci’s Walk of Shame via Kickstarter. Hart wanted to raise $2 million over the course of about a month; by the end of the campaign, she had rustled up only $51,605 from 315 backers.
Yipes. It’s one thing to fall short of a fundraising goal — but it’s quite another to raise just 2.5 percent of that goal. Given the smashing success of the Veronica Mars movie and Zach Braff’s Garden State followup — two other nostalgia-fueled projects that quickly raised and exceeded their own $2 million goals on Kickstarter — why did Darci’s Walk of Shame fail so spectacularly?
For one thing, the project wasn’t really nostalgia-fueled. If Hart had tried to get backers for a reboot of either Clarissa or Sabrina — Sabrina the Middle-Aged Witch? — loyal fans likely would have come out in droves. Unfortunately, those same fans were less enthusiastic about a romantic comedy that cast one of their childhood favorites as a sad, boozy 30something attending her sister’s wedding alone.
Darci also didn’t have much going for it besides Hart herself. Sure, Kristin Bell was the main driver behind the Veronica Mars movie’s success — but Mars creator Rob Thomas and other members of the series’ original cast was also on board. Braff’s film, Wish I Was Here, also features much of the same team behind Garden State, including that film’s cinematographer and executive producers.
Perhaps most importantly, there’s the issue of timing. Garden State was released in 2004. Veronica Mars went off the air in 2007. Sabrina, by contrast, aired on ABC from 1996 to 2000, then moved to The WB for an extremely low-rated three-year run. So while Hart has appeared in numerous TV movies and on the ABC Family sitcom Melissa & Joey in the years since Sabrina, she stopped playing her signature role a decade ago. Perhaps she could have made up for lost time with a massive social media presence — but while Braff and Bell boast over 1 million Twitter followers apiece, Hart has just over 317,000.
Maybe, then, no matter how fondly Hart’s old audience remembers her old comedies, they just don’t really care much about what she’s doing now. Those that do care can still support Hart by watching Melissa & Joey, which returns to ABC Family on May 29. And if that doesn’t appeal, well, we’ll always have Clarissa videos on YouTube: