In 1999, comedian Paul Reubens went on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and announced that he was working on a new movie for his manic signature character, Pee-wee Herman. Now, just 17 short years later, a new film featuring his signature character — Pee-wee Herman’s Big Holiday — will have its world premiere at SXSW Film Festival this March.
Originally created as a sketch-comedy character by Reubens in the late Seventies, Pee-wee Herman became a bona fide cult sensation thanks to Tim Burton’s 1985 film, Pee-wee’s Big Adventure. Reubens then took his alter ego to the small screen, where CBS ran Pee-wee’s Playhouse on Saturday mornings from 1986 to 1990 and elevated the bow-tie–sporting manchild into a household name. Aside from a small handful of in-character appearances (including one in a 2011 Saturday Night Live sketch and HBO’s broadcast of his 2010 Broadway show), Big Holiday will be the first time that Pee-wee has appeared on screen since Reubens’ 1991 arrest for allegedly masturbating in an adult-movie theater.
Produced by Judd Apatow, directed by Wonder Showzen veteran John Lee, and co-written by Reubens and Paul Rust (who stars in Netflix’s upcoming series, Love), the film will follow along with Pee-wee as he goes on his first-ever vacation and encounters a strange cast of characters played by the likes of Joe Manganiello and Alia Shawkat. While additional details about the trip are scarce, SXSW teases “an epic story of friendship and destiny.” For those who can’t make it to Austin for the premiere, Big Holiday will launch on Netflix later in March.
While Pee-wee’s new adventure stole the lion’s share of the attention, SXSW also revealed five of the other projects that will be screening alongside it during the fest. Joining the previously announced opening night film — Richard Linklater’s “spiritual sequel to Dazed and Confused” entitled Everybody Wants Some — are Jeff Nichols’ sci-fi throwback Midnight Special, Athina Rachel Tsangari’s Chevalier, docs about Slenderman and Tony Robbins, and the pilot episode of AMC’s Preacher.
The SXSW Film Festival takes place March 11-20th, 2016.