The 100th Post: Robotech (The Movie): The Untold Story Part 1

Mark Landry, E.V.E., and the M.O.D.A.T.-5
From L-R: Mark Landry, Becky Michaels (in the goggles), the M.O.D.A.T.-5 (in robot mode), and E.V.E.

100 posts, Isn’t this amazing how far we’ve come? With this post, I wanted to do something very special, luckily for me, a couple of months ago, this little gem fell into my lap. This is Robotech The Movie or Robotech the Untold Story. So, before we go any further, let’s talk about Robotech.

Robotech was an animated sci-fi epic, that aired in syndication from March to June of 1985. The show was adapted from three completely unrelated anime: Super Dimension Fortress Macross (The Macross Saga), Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross (The Masters), and Genesis Climber MOSPEADA (New Generation). The series proved very successful and popular, though it did have it’s criticism (mainly from the fans of the original unedited anime). After the show ended, the fans and Harmony Gold wanted more stories, so H.G. and the franchises creator, the late Carl Macek decide to make a follow-up series, Robotech II: The Sentinels, with toy company Matchbox assisting in financing. During Sentinels’ production, Matchbox backed out of the project, due to a Yen/Dollar crash, leaving only three episodes completed. Trying to figure out how to finance the show, Macek and H.G. decided to release a movie to both help with The Sentinels’ finances, and cash-in on the show’s popularity.

Originally, it was going to be a companion piece to the Macross Saga, but H.G.’s co-producer, Tatsunoko Productions wouldn’t allow them to make it, due to Macross gaining popularity in Japan, and their decision to make their own Macross movie, “Do You Remember Love”. Because of this, they asked H.G. not to reference anything from Macross in the film. Instead, they obtained the rights to the OVA, MegaZone 23, also made by Tatsunoko, and decided to use that as the basis for the movie. In the original outline of the movie, the film would’ve taken place during early in The Macross Saga, after the SDF-1 accidently warped to Pluto, and the film’s protagonist, Mark Landry would’ve been a relative of The Macross Saga’s protagonist, Rick Hunter, and the film would’ve followed Mark trying to uncover and stop the Earth Government from trying to cover up the SDF-1 disappearance. The film also would’ve tied-in with The Sentinels cartoon, with the film’s villain, B.D. Andrews (originally called B.D. Edwards) going to be one of the main antagonists of The Sentinels series. While the film was in mid-production, (in)famous movie producers/cousins, Manahem Golan and Yoram Globus, contacted H.G.’s Frank Agrama, and offered to release the movie worldwide through their studio Cannon Films, and that’s where everything fell apart.

After Macek showed a rough cut of the movie (which was a complete straight dub of MegaZone) to Golan and Globus, the cousins hated what they saw, and hated the fact that the movie had “too much girls and not enough guns”. So, instead of going to Japan to work on Sentinels, Macek spent an entire day adding footage from Southern Cross, despite being shot on film different from the one used in MegaZone. Another problem Golan and Globus had with the film was that MegaZone had a downbeat ending, so H.G. had to commission a new happier ending just for the movie. The next day, he showed the new rough cut, and  the cousins loved it, leading Golan to (alledgedly) say these five infamous words: “Now THAT’S a Cannon movie!”.

Before it’s would-be official release, the film was given a failed test screening in select theaters in Dallas, TX. There are various, opinions on how the film fared in it’s screening, with most people saying that it bombed. But Macek, in one of his final interviews in 2010 before his passing three months later, explained that it was a modest success, faring well against Aliens, and crushing Roman Polanski’s Pirates (another Golan-Globus production).

Some of the problems that plagued the film, was it’s poor advertising (something else Cannon is infamous for), with commercials for the movie only aired early in the morning (at 6 or 7 am timeslots), very little print ads, save for a small ad in  Comico’s Robotech comics (which, if you lived outside of Dallas must’ve been very disappointing to see, and for that I apologize). The theaters also played a part in the failed screening, only showing it during the afternoon timeslots, so adults and teens could see screening of the movie on weekends. This was a major problem, since Cannon wasn’t trying to attract an adult audience. What made matters even worst was Cannon was starting collapse after a string of bad financial decisions, one of which being several box office bombs. Cannon shelved the film and never gave it a US theatrical release, a TV broadcast, or even a home video release. Though there is a somewhat “official” US DVD release of the movie, that’s only available through the Robotech Complete Series DVD Box Set, which contains a heavily edited version of the film, which only shows the Southern Cross footage, shortening the running time from 82 minutes to 29 minutes. As a result, this would make the film completely nonsensical,

Despite never getting a (true) US release, it did manage to get released overseas (in the UK, Belgium, The Netherlands, Sweden, etc.), and was fared much better there than here. Even getting VHS. LaserDisc, and even soundtrack releases, all of which are extremely rare to come by, and very pricey.

And with the intro out of the way, we’ll look at the film itself soon. keep a look out, it should be up by tomorrow.


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