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There’s movie love, there’s movie obsession, and then there’s the extreme movie fandom exhibited by Chris Strompolos, Eric Zala, and Jayson Lamb, three Mississippi friends who, starting in 1982 when they were 11 years old, set out on an amazing adventure: to produce a shot-for-shot remake of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas’ Raiders of the Lost Ark. Back then, it was an optimistic mission fraught with unholy obstacles; in 2016, it’s an odyssey preserved and detailed in an upcoming documentary from Drafthouse Films.
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Raiders!: The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made—watch the trailer above—recounts the saga of young amateurs determined to somehow, some way, re-create the joys of their favorite film. The challenges were numerous from the outset, from a shoestring budget to scheduling conflicts (due to school and life). When they set out to do this, there was no home video version of Spielberg’s film to refer back to, so they had to use magazine articles, photos, and their own bootlegged-in-the-theater copy as a guide.
After a 1989 screening of the largely completed work, the film was more or less forgotten until Harry Knowles and Eli Roth resurrected it in 2002, sparking a cult following that even attracted the attention of Spielberg himself. It also reunited the amateur filmmakers, who were sufficiently inspired to finish the one scene that had always eluded them.
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An ode to the passion movies can inspire, Raiders! arrives in theaters and on VOD June 17.
‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’: Watch a teaser trailer for the film that inspired ‘Raiders!’: