Famous ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ Fan Film Gets Its Own Movie Adaptation

By October 15, 2013

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If you’ve spent any time following movie blogs over the past couple of years, you’ve likely already heard about the backstory for this project, but for those who haven’t heard, I’ll fill you in: Back in 1982, a group of friends became obsessed with Steven Spielberg’s Raiders of the Lost Ark and decided to make a shot-for-shot remake. They created sets and props (yes, even the iconic boulder), staged dangerous stunts (remember when Indy slides behind a car, hanging on by his trusty whip?), and managed to film on a real ship and submarine – the U.S.S. Alabama and the U.S.S. Drum – to recreate the sequences when Jones is aboard the large vessels.

All in all, it took them seven years to complete the project. The filmmakers thought that was the end of it, but their fan film grew to legendary status. The movie eventually found its way into the hands of director Eli Roth, who managed to screen some of it in 2002 at a film festival in Austin, Texas, where it received a great response. Then Spielberg himself saw the film, and wrote a letter to each of the three main filmmakers saying that he appreciated their “loving and detailed tribute.” In 2012, a book called “Raiders!” was written about the making of the movie…which brings us all the way up to today.

Raiders of the Lost Ark adaptation 2

Deadline reports that Napoleon Dynamite producer Jeremy Coon has optioned the rights to the book Raiders! and plans to turn the story into a feature film of its own. Yep: a movie about a group of kids creating a shot-for-shot remake of another movie. Chris Strompolos and Eric Zala, the main duo responsible for the original fan film, will be producers on the Raiders! film adaptation and will also be the subjects of a documentary, which Coon himself plans to direct.

If the rights issues surrounding these projects and their involvement with Paramount, Lucasfilm, and now Disney seem a little hazy, that’s because they are – but Coon is well aware of that fact. He says it’s very possible he’ll need the cooperation of Spielberg and Lucas to make these projects, and though Spielberg gave his seal of approval to the original fan film, there’s a big leap between telling a bunch of kids he dug their tribute to his movie and signing off on a project that plans to indirectly profit off a movie he directed. If it does work out, Coon pitches the feature like this: “If you took the first 20 minutes of the movie Super 8, and played it as comedy, that’s how I see this.”

Sounds good to me (especially because I love both the original Raiders and the story of these kids making the film over the course of so many years), but we’ll have to wait and see if this project can hurdle any legal obstacles necessary to make it into theaters. In the meantime, check out the trailer for the “Raiders!” book below, and at the very bottom, watch the entire shot-for-shot remake from filmmakers Chris Strompolos and Eric Zala:


(Thanks to The Dissolve for the link to the actual movie, and be sure to check out this must-read piece at Vanity Fair if you’re interested in all the details of the fan film.)

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Ben is a writer living in Los Angeles, California. His work has been featured at ScreenRant.com, FirstShowing.net, MySpace.com, GeekTyrant.com, and many more sites across the web. Some of his favorite movies include The Rocketeer, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Tombstone, Lucky Number Slevin, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Collateral, Double Indemnity, Back to the Future and The Prestige. Follow him on Twitter: @BenPears.