What is it about a 32-year-old movie about a pair of robots, a princess, and a wookie that has entranced audiences for 32 years?

“Star Wars felt like a breath of fresh air when it came out and you can’t repeat that. It captured our collective imagination with classical storytelling,” says director Kyle Newman. “The movie was a very smart amalgamation of what came before it, presented in a very new dynamic way.”

You’ve probably heard this speech before from a member of the ever-present cult of George Lucas devotees dismissively known as fanboys. It’s a world that Newman knows all to well since he proudly counts himself as a member, and even directed a film called Fanboys — in theatres on Friday.

“I’m a lifelong and die hard Star Wars fan,” says Newman. “It was a dream project because I got to do something professionally that overlapped with something that I loved personally.”

Unlike the wonderful Trekkies, this isn’t a documentary about obsessed fans of the holy trilogy, but a comedy about a group of lifelong Star Wars devotees who embark on a cross-country journey in 1998 to steal an advance copy of The Phantom Menace (if only they knew…) that paints a surprisingly loving portrait of the fans.

“We wanted to be respectful towards these people. They’re not the stereotypical nerds and geeks.”

Unfortunately, once The Weinstein Company saw the finished movie, they were worried about the pro-geek stance and thought that some extra cash could be made out of mocking the characters.

According to Newman, “There was a time after we’d finished making it that the studio explored different ways to make it broader. They thought that maybe there was a larger audience who would want to just laugh at the characters. But, I think ultimately they realized that was a different movie.”

Sadly, not before Newman was booted off his own film for reshoots. “I think they felt like it could be turned into something bigger and it was their right to explore it. But we had a grassroots group of fans who heard about it and we got a lot of support. We had a few early screenings that were pretty successful and word spread on the Internet. When people heard we were going to change it there was an uproar.”

The online controversy about the reshooting of Fanboys convinced the studio that there was an audience for the film and Newman was given 36 hours to recut his movie. The final version tested well with audiences and is finally getting released on Friday, several years after production began. Though he’s concerned about the online hype creating unrealistic expectations, Newman is still quite proud of Fanboys. “For what I set out to make, I thought I was on target. It’s small movie with a lot of heart and laughs. It wasn’t supposed to change the world, it was just a love letter to Star Wars.”