When "Corner Gas" went off the air in April 2009, it was as if Canadians were saying farewell to a piece of history.
Sure, Canada has been known for its comedic roots -- after all, the "SCTV" players and "Kids In The Hall" sketchers are legendary. But as one such legend Mark McKinney once noted, you could easily divide Canadian TV comedy into two camps: pre-"Corner Gas" and post-"Corner Gas."
"I'm a big fan of his, seeing him say that, that almost made me black out," "Corner Gas" co-creator and star Brent Butt tells HuffPost Canada TV. "Mark McKinney saying something like that means the world to me."
It means the world to many fans of a certain fictional town called Dog River that Butt and the rest of the team were able to make good on their threat from five years ago and actually reunite for a big-screen adaptation. But even those involved underestimated just how much Canadians loved the show, as they proved when the film's Kickstarter campaign reached its entire $100,000 goal within a single day.
"The Kickstarter really blew me away," Butt adds. "It just dropped us on our asses, we were like, 'Wow.'"
The crew knew they wanted to engage fans as much as possible if they were going to go ahead with a movie. As a result, the film's entire closing sequence is what Butt calls a "love letter" to fans, and could be mind-boggling to an outsider who maybe never understood what the show meant to Canadian television in the first place. After all, the fan reactions they got and showcased in the film -- not just from Canada but from the U.S. as well -- are quite moving.
"People from all over North America came to the set and people who couldn't get there participated online," Butt recalls. "It's hard not to be moved and humbled by that, when you see people just going out of their way to participate and engage. If you're not moved by something like that then you're not wired right."
In terms of making the film itself, Butt reveals he had a harder task. Although he always said he had a movie in him, his difficulty was in trying to make a product that had all of the qualities of the show, but captured a cinematic essence. And he needed to find a story to match.
As such, when the film hits theatres on Dec. 3 for its limited run (its TV debut is Dec. 18 on CTV), Dog River hasn't changed much save for one small fact: the town is now broke.
"I really think this works as a movie, and it still honours the TV show, which was the tightrope we were walking," Butt says. "I think we nailed it, and I'm proud of it."
The writer, producer and actor admits it was tough hammering down and fitting everything he wanted to showcase into 87 minutes, but he finds solace in the fact that some of those deleted scenes will make their way to the boxed set release, which will be out for Christmas. Those aforementioned fans will definitely want to grab themselves a copy, because from the sounds of things, this really could be the last time we hear from Brent LeRoy, Lacey, Hank and the rest of the zany town residents. Despite the huge surge of love for the film and all of the extras who didn't make the final cut, Butt is pretty certain that this is it.
"It's not on my list of things to do. I always looked at this as the cherry on top -- I always wanted to come back and do a movie," he says. "When you're creative people, you want to create and keep doing stuff. But I think you really run the risk of ruining this thing that not only other people love, but I love too. I don't ever want to do this show a disservice ... having said that I'm open to a heartless cash grab!"
"Corner Gas: The Movie" hits select Cineplex theatres across Canada from Dec. 3 - 7. It comes to CTV on Wednesday, Dec. 18 at 8 pm. ET.