In May of 2007, a good friend of mine got to attend the 30th anniversary celebration of Star Wars at the L.A. Convention Center. Fans were treated to some early footage of a little film that represented the true brotherhood of the Star Wars community. That film was Fanboys, and for almost two years now it has been avoiding theaters like the plague. If your like me, you’ve been following the roller coaster of drama that has surrounded the film and it’s distributors, The Weinstein Co. Fanboys release date has been pushed back several times within the past year and the cause seems to change each time. Rumors of storyline issues, re-shoots, and production problems make me wonder if business took the pleasure out of the Fanboy experience?
The first release date I remember hearing for Fanboys was for September 19, 2008, and it’s been changing ever since. The film’s story takes place in 1998, and centers around a group of friends (Jay Baruchel, Chris Marquette, Dan Fogler, Sam Huntington, and Kristen Bell) who hatch a plan to break into George Lucas’ workstation, Skywalker Ranch. Their goal is to steal a pre-released print of Star Wars: Episode I-The Phantom Menace for a mutual friend of theirs who is unfortunately dying of cancer. The motivation behind their heist is morbid, but sweet in a way. The first full length screening of the film took place in July of 2007 at the Star Wars Celebration Europe, where producers got to see the honest reactions of some die hard Star Wars fans. Yet,whatever happened after the screening must have not been to their liking, because from that point on Fanboys has been in constant rotation on the “upcoming” movie slate.
One of the strongest theories behind what’s to blame for the films constant troubles, has to do with it’s central cancer storyline. According to FilmSchoolRejects, a study was conducted to see if the plot could rack up laughs with such a morbid motive at it’s core. “Apparently the Apatow people have done research which says most people won’t laugh for 5 or 10 minutes after cancer is mentioned” When I read that the first thing that came to my mind was when did Judd Apatow get in the mix? He’s not listed as one of the producers on IMDB, what’s going on? After I did some digging I found out that Apatow’s producing partner Shauna Robertson was involved with the film’s re-editing process. There were some re-shoots and shuffling of scenes to rework the film’s central plot to make it more appealing to audiences.
While all of these changes were being made to the film it’s release date continued to get pushed back even further. It was no longer due in the fall of 08, but the winter, and then January of 2009, and now February 9. I find it really interesting that the studio and producers are so nervous about this film and the topic of cancer, when I’ve seen films centered on murder, rape, and drugs get released at the drop of a hat. Oddly enough a Fanboys co-star Seth Rogen gave his two cents on the matter, and pretty much said the real fanboys were to blame for the films woes.
“I think it’s a good lesson in not listening to people on the Internet. I think [the producers] got scared by Internet buzz and I’m of the thought that Internet buzz is literally influenced by 500 people with laptops. And I think they let Internet buzz changed it and then changed it back and then make some other weird version of it. Let the filmmakers make their movies and don’t worry about [what] early reactions are.”
This statement could be seen as a double edged sword in terms of its meaning. For one, I do agree with the fact that sometimes the fear and uncertainty of preview screenings can overshadow a good film. Executives get so concerned with getting rid of the bad material, that sometimes they end up losing the good. On another note, with a film with Star Wars fandom as it’s center, you can’t ignore the Internet buzz. With anything that has a built in audience, the fans are always going to look to see how the filmmakers treat the source material. In a lot of ways being able to hop onto a message board and see whats flying and whats dying can save you a lot of grief. The trick is to find the balance between creative freedom, and corporate interference.
My final gripe with the overall handling of Fanboys has to do with the fact that its in super limited release. According to TheForce.net, the only cities that will get the film when it’s finally let out of the vault are Los Angeles, New York, Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago, Houston and Austin, Texas. Where’s Detroit, Cleveland, St. Louis, Miami, and every other major city in the country?! Some of the films followers are writing in to the Weinstein Co. to get the film released in their respective states. What’s so hard about putting out a movie that had a 8 million dollar budget? Was it really necessary to chop and screw the films script, just for a seven city release? Fanboys isn’t a big budget film, but it’s not a super indie pic either. Therefore the general disrespect that it’s fans and supporters have been dealing with for the past year is beyond ridiculous. When I finally do see the film, I hope to see it’s original story still in place. Free from meddling hands, with selfish motives. The film can deliver if you just give it an honest shot. Maybe if it’s backers spent more time supporting the film as opposed to dumping on it there wouldn’t be legions of frustrated fans venting over their 500 laptops.
The films “official” release should be next Friday, February 6th. Hopefully!
What do you think? Have you heard any other rumors about this film? Are you excited to see it or have all the grumblings scared you off?
Check out out exclusive interview with Fanboys Director Kyle Newman, Monday on ScreenCrave, where we talk about what went wrong, why he felt he had to fight for his film, and who got the final cut.
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