I was just reminded this week that the film “5-25-77” – or “’77’ as it appears to currently be known – still hasn’t been released. It is essentially the ‘coming of age’ story of a guy named Patrick Read Johnson, who was the writer/director of “Spaced Invaders” and writer of “Dragonheart.” He also made the under-rated “Angus,” a high school drama about an overweight kid pursuing the cute girl at school that was filmed 15 miles from my parent’s house in rural southern Minnesota. The date in the title “5-25-77” is significant, since that was the release date of the first “Star Wars” film and that appears to have been a turning-point time in Johnson’s life, leading to his career in Hollywood. Presumably, the film chronicles that journey.
Back in the late 1990s, the Ain’t-it-Cool-News movie site somewhat promoted the “5-25-77” script on behalf of Johnson. The thought at the time was that it might capitalize on all of the promotion for the first “Star Wars” prequel film. They even offered copies of the script.
It took another half-decade for that script to finally be filmed in the mid-2000s. Part of “5-25-77″‘s problem may have been that, at one point, it was in production roughly at the same time as “Fanboys.” Both were ‘movies about “Star Wars”‘ – albeit from different eras. “5-25-77” was about a kid wanting to see the original “Star Wars” film in 1977. “Fanboys” was set in 1998/1999 and centered on a group of friends trying to see “Star Wars: Episode I” early, as one guy in the group was dying of cancer.
It was “Fanboys” that eventually got released. Of course, “Fanboys” had its own epic struggles, with its 2007 release date getting pushed back until early 2009. The battle on that film had to do with a downbeat ‘last wish for guy with cancer’ central plot point that producer Harvey Weinstein eventually decided he didn’t want in the film. Unfortunately for him, removing that driving rationale from the plot proved incredibly difficult, so it was edited back in at the last minute and the film was release two years late, once that editing battle was finished. It isn’t an overly-great movie, but it has some fun moments.
“5-25-77” was the lower-budget film of the pair, without formal studio backing. Hence, it has waited and waited for distribution. Judging from the trailer that has floated around You Tube for a couple of years, it looks like it might be better than “Fanboys,” due to being less about silly-road-comedy and more about a small town kid’s journey into the big-time.
Thus, here we are, over a decade since the film’s script was first publicized and over five years since it was filmed, yet no way to easily see it. The general public has only had glimpses of it, as it played in preview form to a couple of small film festivals in 2006. When it played to a “Star Wars Celebration” convention in L.A. back in 2007, most people thought that a release of some sort was eminent. Reviewers at the time suggested that it would be edited to tighten up the flow a bit and then hit theatres or video.
That didn’t happen.
The film played again in 2008 at a Hampton’s film festival and that appears to be it for now. I remain perplexed that it hasn’t at least been dumped on DVD after five years on the shelf. So far as I know, it hasn’t even leaked in a bootleg form, most likely due to how little it has actually been seen by the general public. Hopefully that doesn’t somehow happen, as it seems that the film getting released illegally would only further kill any hope of a proper release.
Then again, maybe a crappy bootleg copy would generate a groundswell of interest in a proper release. Who knows…
In spending time this morning trying to find recent news on the film, I came up empty-handed. There appears to be nothing related to it on the horizon, although the state of the film is such that it could suddenly come out. I would like to think that the “Star Wars” fan community would at least give it some measure of support and awareness. At the very least, it seems like a fun film, the release of which would help many of us longtime-followers find some semblance of closure in life.
UPDATE: May 2017… Shockingly, this film that everyone likely had forgotten about was seemingly poised for a release on the 40th Anniversary of “Star Wars.” We’ll have to see if it can actually make its supposed May 25, 2017 release date.