Unauthorized 'Star Wars' Doc 'Elstree 1976' Nabbed by FilmRise (Exclusive)

The film, which made its world premiere in October at the 2015 London Film Festival, explores the lives of the actors and extras behind the franchise.
Courtesy of Canal Cat Films
'Elstree 1976'

With Star Wars fever showing no signs of abating, FilmRise has scooped up North American distribution rights in all media for the Star Wars documentary Elstree 1976.

Directed by Jon Spira, the documentary centers on the untold, behind-the-scenes stories of the iconic franchise, which spans nearly four decades from George Lucas’ original A New Hope to J.J. Abrams’ recent record-breaking blockbuster The Force Awakens.

Having made its world premiere in October at the London Film Festival, Elstree 1976 explores the lives of the actors and extras behind the franchise, from a first trilogy villain to the actor whose character was completely cut from the final film. The documentary delves into the eccentric community the actors have formed and how the Star Wars franchise continues to impact their lives. Elstree refers to the village in England that houses the studio where the original Star Wars trilogy was produced.

Disney, the studio behind Force Awakens, did not cooperate with the making of Elstree 1976. Instead, the film was financed through a Kickstarter campaign.

New York-based distributor FilmRise bought the rights from The Works and is planning a theatrical release in May. The film is a Canal Cat production in association with British Film Company, Verax Films and The Works.

Elstree 1976 is produced by Hank Starrs. In a reviewThe Hollywood Reporter's Stephen Dalton called it a "genial, humane project with obvious fan appeal."

"As evidenced by the incredible success of the latest Star Wars installment, the franchise has found its way back into mainstream consciousness," FilmRise CEO Danny Fisher said. "We are confident fans will enjoy this exploratory look into the lives of the original film’s actors and extras, as it provides them with a new perspective on this massive cultural phenomenon."

Last month, FilmRise acquired U.S. rights to the French romantic comedy Lolo, which was written and directed by and stars Julie Delpy, from Wild Bunch. Other recent acquisitions include Steve McQueen: The Man & Le Mans; Monster Hunt, the highest-grossing film in China’s box-office history; and Alex Gibney's Scientology exposé, Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief. The company's TV titles include Showtime’s Years of Living Dangerously.

The Elstree 1976 deal was negotiated by Fisher and vp acquisitions Max Einhorn. CAA repped the filmmakers.