It took buddies Eric Zala and Chris Strompolos seven years to create a shot-by-shot, stunt-by-stunt remake of the 1981 action-adventure classic Raiders of the Lost Ark. Dubbed Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation, the pals begged, borrowed and stole for their fan film (shot on Betamax and eventually VHS), recruiting neighborhood kids to play roles, building massive props (like a six-foot fiberglass boulder), and scouting for desert locations in Mississippi. Chris had his first kiss on camera, Eric almost melted his face off, and his house was nearly destroyed. Through the years, their friendship was pushed to the limits as the guys faced personal struggles (parents divorcing, remarrying, moving away), and more. Raiders: The Adaptation became a documentary of a friendship and a dream, first discovered by Eli Roth, and later recognized by the original director himself, Steven Spielberg.
Writer Alan Eisenstock wrote a book about the amateur film production, and Deadline is now reporting that Napoleon Dynamite producer Jeremy Coon has optioned the story and will work with Zala and Strompolos (now in their 40s) to create a film. "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," the website indicates. "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 Deadline.
To get a feel for Raiders: The Adaptation, considered the most successful fan film ever created, check out this book trailer.
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