First Transformers, then the rumors of He-Man, Speed Racer, Thunder Cats and other 1980’s cartoons turned into movies start drifting in the wind.
These things snowball, don’t they?
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Warner Brothers has picked up the film rights to the gestalt anime franchise, and they’ll be producing the film alongside “Spider-Man” actor Tobey Maguire. Maguire is also considering a lead role.
Although the article doesn’t say specifically, the film will probably not span the entirety of the Robotech saga, itself combined from three Japanese anime properties (“Super Dimension Fortress Macross,” “Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross,” and “Genesis Climber Mospeada”). Given Maguire’s physical specifications, he’s likely eyeing the role of Rick Hunter (or “Hikaru Ichijyo” for all fans of the original “Super Dimension Fortress Macross” series), which is the section of the story most familiar with US audiences, called The First Robotech War.
Frank Agrama of rights-holder Harmony Gold will exec produce; Jason Netter will serve in a producer capacity. Matthew Reilly brought the project to Warners and is overseeing. Daniel Shafer brought the project to Maguire and will shepherd for the company.
This is seen as a response to the success of “Transformers” in cinemas, so giant robots are once again interesting to many Tinseltown players.
Many of you probably have no idea what the big deal is. Well, let me tell you that the Robotech Saga was a big hit for kids watching cartoons in the US during the long decade of 80’s (the decade that refuses to die and instead keeps coming back like a gunshot-wound-ridden zombie).
Kids were so softened by a steady diet of Starblazers and later Force Five (a daily dose of robot action with a different program every day… my favorite being Grandizer) that they hardly saw a real franchise coming toward them, ready to take away their dreams and money.
When Harmony Gold unleashed Robotech on the TV airwaves, it caught fire almost immediately. The story of alien technology (or proto-culture) being used by a unified planetary Earth army against alien invaders took hold of children’s imagination across the country and in no time… we were hooked.
But it turned out that the adventures of young Rick Hunter, Lisa Hayes and pop idol to millions Minmei (all off the top of my head) was just the beginning. The series was in fact a trilogy… well, not really. As it says above, Harmony Gold strung together three different cartoon series into a single story. A cunning plan, but it worked like a dream.
The toys, soundtracks, novels and handbooks were big hits for a while, along with a role playing game book.
But the success was not to last.
A feature film was released stateside (basically a retelling of the first and most popular saga) and bombed. A sequel featuring an older Rick Hunter, Minmei, et al journeying into space called Sentinels was begun only to sadly be abandoned.
More recently, Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles was released. A direct to DVD feature film that follows the final episode of the cartoon series and Robotech: Sentinels.
Robotech‘s day in the sun was very bright but very brief. If they premiered nowadays, they would sell like hotcakes to the manga-loving youth. The series was in essence a war/adventure story, but had heavy soap opera overtones and more angst than Wolverine or Kitty Pryde had ever seen. It enveloped the 80’s adolescence in ways that deeply touched many a kid, Joss Whedon included, I’m sure.
News of a feature film will spark a big light in the heads of many grown fans looking to introduce their kids to the weirdest three way love affair ever seen in cartoons… well the Green Lantern/Hawkgirl/Hawkman one is pretty weird too, I suppose.