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SYFY WIRE Mark Hamill

'Virtually Heroes': Long-lost Mark Hamill sci-fi film, made by Roger Corman, finally set for release

Hamill plays a Yoda-like advisor to rebel video game NPCs in Corman’s 2013 movie 'Virtually Heroes'

By Benjamin Bullard
Mark Hamill Star Wars: Rise of Skywalke

Two years before Luke Skywalker hermited himself away on the remote Ahch-To island in The Force Awakens, Mark Hamill had a finished movie in the bag that was light-years away from the Star Wars universe. The film was called Virtually Heroes, and, coming from executive producer and B-movie legend Roger Corman, it was shot for only a sliver of the cost of a big-screen journey to the galaxy far, far away.

Even though Virtually Heroes caught fans’ and critics’ eyes as an official selection of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, it didn’t land an immediate distributor, and in the near-decade since has languished idle. Thanks to a new twist, though, that’s finally about to change. Via Variety, Virtually Heroes has been picked up by Screen Media — the same distributor behind the U.S. run of 2019’s The Man Who Killed Don Quixote — for a long-deferred date with theaters.

Hamill plays “a Yoda-like monk” in the movie, via the report, serving up timely advice to a pair of polygonal protagonists who sound like the 2010s sci-fi ancestors of Ryan Reynolds’ Free Guy: They’re NPCs in a Call of Duty-style video game who’ve become newly awoken to their fated, scripted roles. Naturally, they decide to do something about their existential entrapment, setting out (with Hamill’s help) “to win the game and get the girl.”

Corman executive produced the movie, which was directed by G.J. Echternkamp — who’s likely become best known in the years since for directing Malcolm McDowell in 2017’s Corman-produced Death Race 2050, the modern-day sequel to his 1970s sci-fi classic Death Race 2000. Alongside Hamill, the film stars Robert Baker (Supergirl, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull), Brent Chase (Shameless, Animal Kingdom), and Katie Savoy (How I Met Your Mother, Sequestered).

Echternkamp and Screen Media know the pickup is a big win for Corman fans who’ve bided their time for another value-priced hit from the 96 year-old Hollywood icon, who confessed that he’s only “semi-retired” to Paste earlier this summer. “Virtually Heroes was an ambitious project in many ways, and not exactly what you would call a conventional film,” said Echternkamp in a statement quoted by Variety. “I’m so glad that Screen Media is at last bringing this cult movie out of the shadows and onto their platform to be discovered by a new audience.”

When can you catch Hamill in his old, new Jedi master-type role as the wise advisor to a pair of digital rebels? Virtually Heroes reportedly will arrive in limited release in theaters this December, as well on digital on-demand platforms. Crackle Plus platform Popcornflix also is set to give the film a streaming debut early next year.

Looking for more sci-fi? Check out SYFY's hit series Resident Alien, which is dropping new episodes every Wednesday and streaming next-day on Peacock.