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FireflyHow the fans helped save Joss Whedon’s Firefly
By Jason Silverman
Wednesday 24 August 2005, by Webmaster
Who are more dedicated than Trekkies? Browncoats. That’s the nickname for fans of Firefly, the Wild West-inflected sci-fi melodrama that aired on Fox in 2002. When the show was canceled after 11 episodes, the Browncoats began building Web sites, emailing petitions, even holding charity events. Firefly creator Joss Whedon - better known for Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel - knows how devoted viewers can be and has special appreciation for the Browncoats. "They understand defeat, and it has made them fight harder," Whedon says. They didn’t win over Fox, but they got a consolation prize: Universal Pictures turned Firefly into a movie, Serenity, which opens September 30. Here’s how the Browncoats rode in like the cavalry.
Firefly: From Birth to Rebirth
DECEMBER 2001: Fox announces the new Whedon show. Speculation about it begins at Fireflyfans.net and Firefly: The Premiere Fansite.
SEPTEMBER 20, 2002: Fox decides not to air the pilot, throwing a wrench into Whedon’s narrative. Ratings are mediocre.
OCTOBER 2002: Fans smell trouble. They launch Firefly: Immediate Assistance site and send postcards to Fox and its advertisers.
DECEMBER 9, 2002: Fans buy a Variety ad: "You keep flying. We’ll keep watching."
DECEMBER 13, 2002: Show gets canceled before all 14 episodes are shown. Whedon posts rebuttal on a fan site: Firefly was "mistreated shamefully" by Fox.
DECEMBER 20, 2002: The pilot finally airs.
JANUARY 25, 2003: Devotees hold coat drives, donating 1,600 pieces of clothing to charity while highlighting the show’s plight.
JULY 2003: Fan site brags that presales for the Firefly DVD set put it in Amazon.com’s top 5.
DECEMBER 9, 2003: Firefly is released on DVD ($50) and sells more than 200,000 copies over the next six months.
FEBRUARY 2004: Universal announces it will produce the feature film Serenity.
JULY 2004: Whedon and the Serenity cast rock San Diego’s Comic-Con, with SRO crowds.
OCTOBER 2004: Whedon ends his TV production deal with Fox.
JUNE 2005: As a thank-you to fans, Universal stages sneak previews of Serenity in 35 cities.
JULY 22, 2005: Sci Fi Channel begins airing Firefly, including previously unseen episodes.
SEPTEMBER 30: Serenity opens in theaters nationwide.