Nearly a decade ago, screenwriter (Dragonheart) and director (Angus) Patrick Read Johnson began work on a film near and dear to his heart. He named it 5-25-77 because that holds a special significance for millions of sci-fi and movie fans the world over: it was the U.S. theatrical release date of the original Star Wars. In 2007, though the film was far from being finished due to a lack of funding, Johnson screened it at the Star Wars Celebration IV to a very positive response. That was the last we had heard of 5-25-77, until now.
Since Star Wars: The Force Awakens is poised to both reignite love for the franchise for many and indoctrinate a ton of new fans into the glorious adventures of a galaxy far, far away later this year, the time would seem right for Johnson’s cinematic love letter to the scrappy little studio flick that blasted off into legend nearly forty years ago to finally see the light of day.
You can check out a plot synopsis and trailer here below.
The film has experienced its share of speed bumps and pot holes on the road from inception to release, as Johnson related to the Austin Chronicle in a 2012 interview:
“We raised money independently to make this film. We didn’t pre-sell it in Sweden and everywhere else to get production money, we didn’t presell it to a studio, we completely financed it ourselves with friends, relatives, whoever else could help. What happened was that, by doing that, I was allowed the freedom to do the film I wanted to make. I had studios that wanted to make it, but they wanted it to be turned into ‘Road Trip,’ or they wanted it to be ‘American Pie’ for ‘Star Wars’ geeks, and I was not making that film. By the time we got finished to the point where people were really starting to pay attention to it, the William Morris Agency picked up the film. They said, ‘We love this, it’s great, we’re going to get it into theaters, we’re going to get you $500,000 to do the final music and final visual effects.’ Wow, this is going to be beautiful and amazing. Cassian Elwes, the biggest film sales agent in the world was repping it, and all of a sudden the bottom fell out of the economy, and William Morris was gobbled up by Endeavor, and suddenly the biggest film sales agent in the world was out of a job.”
The cast of 5-25-77 is headed by John Francis Daley, the actor (Freaks & Geeks) and screenwriter (Horrible Bosses) who is making his feature directorial debut with this summer’s Vacation reboot, as a geeky small town high school student who becomes convinced that Star Wars will be more than another space fantasy flick after getting to catch a glimpse of it being filmed. Gary Kurtz, who produced both Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back (spare me this episode this and that crap), performed the same duties for Johnson’s autobiographical comedy.
Despite the hurdles and delays, Johnson is optimistically reporting that 5-25-77 has finally been completed and secured distribution, and we should expect a theatrical and VOD release soon.
In a recent interview with Yahoo! Movies the director said:
“I can tell you that the film will come out in theaters on a significant date. A few months out, you’ll start to see some things appearing around the country, and if you’ve seen the movies these things are referencing””like ‘2001’ and ‘Jaws'””you’ll know it’s advertising before anyone else does.”
5-25-77 looks to be a real funny and spirited tribute to fantastic cinema and the eccentric imaginations who make them possible. It’s good to hear that Johnson’s labor of love has been finished and will finally be seeing the release it deserves, and just in time for the inevitable resurgence of Star Wars mania.
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away””or rather, in early-’70s Wadsworth, Illinois””Pat, a teenage geek with a big imagination, devoted his spare time and excess energy to concocting supremely amateur “sequels” to the genre cinema of the day. With his backyard and basement standing in for a Hollywood studio, he set the sights of his Super-8 on his own visions of JAWS, PLANET OF THE APES, DUEL and of course the catalyst for his crazed creativity, 2001: A SPACE ODDYSEY. His best pal Bill doesn’t entirely share his raging passion but he’s perfectly game to have his arm torn off or heart ripped out in the name of homemade sci-fi cinema””and be Pat’s comrade in discovering the delights and disasters of an average adolescent’s life. But such lives, even those in ordinary Wadsworth, have their dramatic defining moments. Pat’s arrives in a chance opportunity to visit Hollywood and while there, meet with special effects maestro Douglas Trumbull. Along that path, however, lies a fateful detour”¦ an audience with the young, rising director Steven Spielberg, a journey through the guts of Industrial Light & Magic in its infancy, and an encounter with one George Lucas as he manically mixes up a little space-opera movie that would soon shake the foundations of cinematic art and business”¦