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.”
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.