Back to IndieWire

Patrick Read Johnson’s Long Awaited ‘Star Wars’ Movie ‘5-25-77’ Is Finally Done, Theatrical Release Coming Soon

Patrick Read Johnson's Long Awaited 'Star Wars' Movie '5-25-77' Is Finally Done, Theatrical Release Coming Soon

Passion and patience don’t always mix, but Patrick Read Johnson has had plenty of both. Way back in 2007, his movie “5-25-77” screened at the Star Wars Celebration IV and then….sort of disappeared. The picture has never quite been fully completed, lacking the funds to take it over the finish line. And in the years since, it has popped up sporadically at film festivals, while Johnson has struggled to find a home for his picture, complete it, and get it released. And it’s a shame given that buzz has been very positive and that the premise should hit the nostalgic sweet spot for many.

John Francis Daley (“Freak & Geeks“) stars as passionate movie-lover in the ’70s, whose chance visit to Hollywood allows him to rub shoulders with Steven Spielberg and Douglas Trumbull, and get a behind-the-scenes tour of Industrial Light & Magic. And it’s there where he gets a glimpse of “Star Wars,” and becomes the movie’s first fan. So, what happened in in the interim years? 

“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,” Johnson told The Austin Chronicle in 2012. “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.”

But Johnson has persisted and he has some very, very good news. “The movie is done,” Johnson told Yahoo Movies, adding that a distributor is lined up, and a theatrical and VOD release is in the works, though he’s not spilling all the secrets just yet. 

“I can tell you that the film will come out in theaters on a significant date,”  though it won’t be the same day as “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” “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.”

READ MORE: New Infographic Lays Out Canonical ‘Star Wars’ Timeline With Films, TV And Books

So keep your eyes peeled for this one. Below, the full synopsis for “5-25-77” from the Fantasia Film Festival, the trailer from TIFF, and a batch of images.

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…
An autobiographical coming-of-age story that will resonate with the intensity of a big black monolith (or perhaps an exploding Death Star?) for an entire generation of dream-struck movie nerds (a term we at Fantasia use with great affection), 5-25-77 is a love letter to the medium with a powerful motivational message, care of filmmaker Patrick Read Johnson (SPACED INVADERS, BABY’S DAY OUT, ANGUS). For over half a decade, Read’s labour of love has languished in the twilight of production, rumors of its impending arrival stirring up the STAR WARS fanbase and various unfinished cuts surfacing at festivals. Starring John Francis Daley (FREAKS & GEEKS, BONES) and produced by, among others, Gary Kurtz (yes, the same guy who produced STAR WARS and EMPIRE!), 5-25-77 boasts richly nostalgic art direction, energetic yet impeccable editing, endless nods and winks to the era’s movies and a genuinely respectful and empathic sense for the hearts and minds of the young, and of all who remain young at heart.

This Article is related to: News and tagged , ,