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Peter T Chattaway

Raiders!

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Links to our threads on Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), the first three Indiana Jones movies (1981-1989), The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles (1992-1993) and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008).

Link to my blog post on a screening of Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation that I attended in May 2008.

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‘Napoleon Dynamite’ Producer Sets Movie About The Kids Who Made Shot-By-Shot ‘Raiders Of The Lost Ark’ Remake

EXCLUSIVE: Napoleon Dynamite producer Jeremy Coon has optioned Raiders!, the Alan Eisenstock book that tells how two Mississippi kids set out to remake Raiders Of The Lost Ark. The pals started at 11 and finished when they turned 18, and in that time managed to re-stage every scene, shot and stunt in their backyards and basements. They first shot on Betamax and then on VHS when the former became obsolete. The kid filmmakers, Chris Strompolos and Eric Zala, met in elementary school and are now in their early 40s. They will produce with Coon two projects and their life rights are part of the package. First, Coon intends to direct a documentary as he works to set up a narrative feature, which is essentially a movie about the making of a movie that is a remake of another movie.

When Coon first saw Raiders Of The Lost Ark: The Adaptation at a film festival, it was during a period when all of the optimism and wide-eyed wonder that went into making the gem Napoleon Dynamite had been replaced by depression and cynicism. Coon and his cohorts were forced to sue Fox after feeling shortchanged by the proceeds of their $400,000 budget film that grossed nearly $50 million worldwide and made a lot more than that on video and ancillaries. The suit is still going on.

“I thought the movie was an urban myth but when I saw it, from a filmmaker perspective it was more inspiring than any movie I’d ever seen,” Coon told me. “These kids had done something ridiculous and impossible and the last time I had the experience of a movie being made because it was sheer fun was when I’d seen Kill Bill. I went in feeling cynical but there was no cynicism in these kids. They did the movie because they loved it. It had its premiere and then sat on a shelf.”

That is because you can’t make a shot-by-shot remake of a seminal blockbuster film without permission and rights. Coon admits it is very possible that he will need the cooperation of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas in order to be able to do his movies. Spielberg told the youngsters he’d seen and loved what they did; they haven’t gotten any feedback from Lucas. Their ordeal spanned from 1981-89, when they’d film each summer and try their best not to get killed. . . .

Deadline.com, October 14

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That is because you can’t make a shot-by-shot remake of a seminal blockbuster film without permission and rights. Coon admits it is very possible that he will need the cooperation of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas in order to be able to do his movies. Spielberg told the youngsters he’d seen and loved what they did; they haven’t gotten any feedback from Lucas. Their ordeal spanned from 1981-89, when they’d film each summer and try their best not to get killed. . . .

Deadline.com, October 14

 

Dear George Lucas,

 

Please don't be a dick about this.

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I believe they were Seperate, because Paramount has some controlling interest in the franchise I believe.

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Tyler wrote:

: Were Lucas's Indiana Jones rights part of the Star Wars sale, or are they separate from it?

Technically, Lucas sold his company, Lucasfilm, to Disney -- so this includes everything Star Wars-related (except for the original film, which is at least partly owned by 20th Century Fox), but it would also presumably include anything else that Lucasfilm owned.

20th Century Fox gave Lucas the sequel and merchandising rights to the original Star Wars, which is why e.g. the animated Clone Wars movie could be distributed by Warner Brothers instead of Fox; Lucas owns those movies outright and merely lets Fox (and Warner) distribute them for a fee. But the distribution rights to those films will revert to Lucasfilm within the next decade, I think, which now means that they will, in effect, revert to Disney. (But will future editions of the movies still begin with the 20th Century Fox logo, which is so strongly identified with the films that the opening fanfare was even included on the "special edition" soundtrack albums? *That's* what fans want to know!)

But it's possible that Raiders of the Lost Ark is actually partly owned by Paramount, the same way Disney owned the sequel and merchandising rights to the early Pixar films even before Disney bought Pixar outright. (I do see that, according to the IMDb, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles was co-produced with Paramount Television, and the DVDs are distributed by Paramount.) Raiders went into production right around the time The Empire Strikes Back came out, and it would have been in development for some time before that, so at the time Paramount committed to the film, no one really knew if Lucas or Spielberg would be one-hit wonders (well, two-hit, I guess, since Lucas had American Graffiti and Star Wars while Spielberg had Jaws and Close Encounters -- but Spielberg had also had a big flop with 1941; Lucas, for his part, had also had a flop, though perhaps not as expensive a flop, with the sequel to American Graffiti). Lucas and Spielberg would not have been in a position, necessarily, to demand complete ownership of the franchise.

But I suspect Lucasfilm still had *some* controlling interest in the franchise, and thus whatever it had would now be in Disney's hands.

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I remember reading that Indiana Jones is still tied into a distribution deal with Paramount, but Disney acquired some control in the Lucasfilm purchase, and that the full rights default back to Disney in a number of years.

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There are two docs at play here, and I liked one of them. The back story of what drove the kids to make the film is nostalgic and funny and inspiring and well worth telling. The current story of them coming together to film the one last scene is as uninspired, commercial, and without the joy that made the first part good. In short, it had none of the qualities the adaptation was celebrated for. 

Edited by kenmorefield

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I just got my copy of the Raiders Adaptation.  I've not seen any of it yet, got it based off of what I've read.  I plan to watch it soon.

 

My kids are currently of the age where they are, in my opinion, a few years below the age of watching the original Raiders.  I think they're one year away from watching specific episodes of the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles (currently on Netflix).  I can only wonder how screwed up they will be if THIS would be their entry into watching the Raiders film, and not the 1981 film.  Should I tempt fate?

 

(Said by one who didn't initially like _Singin' In the Rain_ coz I saw the Broadway musical first).

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Weird, I see that I posted some comments above, but I never linked to my review:
 

The saddest thing about Raiders! is that what starts out as a celebration of something unique and wonderful about child-like faith and enthusiasm slowly morphs into a rather bland “making of” featurette, chronicling the logistical headaches of a pair of middle-aged professionals.

 

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I added this as a "track this film" on Roku, which now tells me that it is available on Netflix. 

(It's kinda ironic that it finally appeared the day I watched Johnnie To's Mad Detective because Blind Detective is now the film that has been on my "track this movie" 'feature the longest without an "available" alert. 

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