Review Thomas and the Magic Railroad (2000)


Member: Rank 3
(Summary compiled from information from Wikipedia, Thomas and Friends Wikia, and The Lost Media Wiki):

Thomas and the Magic Railroad is a 2000 British-American fantasy adventure film by Britt Allcroft, its director, producer and writer. Starring Peter Fonda, Mara Wilson, Alec Baldwin, Didi Conn, Russell Means, Cody McMains, Michael E. Rodgers and the voices of Eddie Glen and Neil Crone, the film is based on the British children's book series The Railway Series by The Rev. W. Awdry, its televised adaptation Thomas & Friends, and the American series Shining Time Station. It was co-produced by Gullane Pictures/The Britt Allcroft Company and the Isle of Man Film Commission. The film was distributed by Destination Films in the United States and Icon Film Distribution in the United Kingdom.

Its story is centered on Lily Stone (Wilson), the granddaughter of the caretaker (Fonda) of an enchanted steam engine who is lacking an appropriate supply of coal, and Mr. Conductor (Baldwin) of Shining Time Station, whose provisions of magical gold dust are at a critical low. To ameliorate these problems, Lily and Mr. Conductor enlist the help of Thomas the Tank Engine (Glen), who confronts the ruthless Diesel 10 (Crone) along the way.

When Thomas and the Magic Railroad was first released in the U.K. where critics were unfamiliar with the characters from Shining Time Station, the film was accused of "Americanizing" Thomas. Critical reception in the U.S. was somewhat better, but still mostly negative, in stark contrast to the praise given to the original Shining Time Station, which was an award-winning show. General criticism of the film has been directed towards its plot, characterization, acting and special effects.

The film's critical and commercial failure led Allcroft to resign from her company, Gullane Entertainment (originally The Britt Allcroft Company) in September 2000. Two years later, Gullane was acquired by HiT Entertainment, which the television rights to Thomas were passed onto.

In a 2007 interview, director Britt Allcroft commented the finished film was drastically changed from what it was originally going to be the way she had written it. The perceived "laziness" in the plot was due to a major villain being cut from the film.

A major character, 'Pete Tiberius Boomer' (short nickname as P.T. Boomer or Pete Boom), portrayed by Canadian actor Doug Lennox, was originally portrayed as the main antagonist, but Boomer was deemed too frightening for younger audiences and therefore was entirely cut out from the film before its release. Because of P.T. Boomer's absence from the final film, the plot elements that had been driven by him went unexplained.

P.T. Boomer is described in the original cut of the script as being "a drifter through choice" and was intended to be Burnett Stone's adversary, the real culprit responsible for why Lady went too fast and crashed, not Diesel 10 as altered in the final cut. Jealous of the relationship that Burnett had with Tasha (Lily's Grandmother), Boomer bullied Burnett into allowing him to take Lady for a run and crashing her in revenge. After the accident, Boomer fled Indian Valley and Burnett spent years trying to restore her to no avail. He returns now a good forty years later a bitter and dark character, hell-bent on completing his revenge by finding and destroying Lady for good.

When audiences complained about him being "too scary" (a weird claim when the secondary villain is literally a Diesel with a claw) he was cut out at the last minute, explaining the laziness of the movie's final cut and Diesel 10 was rewritten as the main antagonist. This cut was so close to the release, that one of the previews even contained Boomer briefly, falling off the viaduct along with Diesel 10. Coloring books contained references to him by name as well.

Boomer was seen in the movie in the form of two cameos, part of his confrontation with Burnett is seen by a distance as Stacy and Lily arrive in their car. Audibly the scene is re-dubbed so that Burnett is giving directions to a lost biker. The biker clad in an overcoat presents a dark contrast and appears somewhat menacing. Boomer is also visible on the back of Diesel 10's cab during the chase scene toward the end (the original ending had Boomer land on the back of Diesel 10 through the magic buffers).

(Continued in next post, due to word count)


Member: Rank 3
Because of the cuts, many key scenes that gave Britt Allcroft's original story substance and were filmed with Peter Fonda as Burnett Stone and Russell Means as Billy Twofeathers plus Cody McMains as Patch, were not in the released version because of the references to P.T. Boomer. The movie scenes with these cuts were either cut or altered. In addition, the test audience made the response that Means' role was hard to understand, Britt Allcroft found this shocking as he hardly was, and he "spoke with the voice of his history".
Various theatrical and home media trailers of the movie had depicted characters with voices largely differing from their voices in the original cuts. During Production, it was widely publicized online that an Isle of Mann cab driver and Volunteer Firefighter named John Bellis was to be the voice of Thomas. Having only heard him utter a meager few words, Britt knew that John was the right man to voice Thomas himself, turning to tell her colleagues "I have just heard the voice of Thomas. The man is exactly how Thomas would sound!" A few days later, she offered John the part, and he accepted.

Despite being flown out to Toronto record all of Thomas' dialogue, American test audiences however thought Bellis' voice made Thomas sound too old and thus John Bellis was canned. Thomas' voice was performed in the final cut by Canadian voice actor Eddie Glenn. Bellis was apparently disappointed by this, and to the point where he refuses to really discuss the matter with fans who have contacted him to ask him about it.

The same trailers depicted Diesel 10 with a gruff English upper class accent, as opposed to the New Jersey accent he had in the theatrical release. Sodor Island Forums ended up digging up the information that Diesel 10 was originally voiced by Australian voice actor Keith Scott. But this voice was deemed too frightening by the American test audiences. Canadian actor Neil Crone was then brought in to do the voice of Diesel 10, where he gave him a Russian accent. This too would fall in the hands when the audiences made the wild claim that it would somehow be "offensive" and Crone revised his voice to a New Jersey accent. The troublesome trucks had also been voiced by Crone along Splatter and Dodge's actor Kevin Frank in the directors cut, but most of their material was cut from the final film.

Britt Allcroft revealed that the original voice intended for James and Percy was Michael Angelis, narrator for the UK series of "Thomas" from 1991-2012. English actor Patrick Breen originally also provided the voices for Dodge and Splatter. Both of them were canned by the test audiences, with Angelis replaced for the same reason as Bellis. Susan Roman and Linda Ballantyne replaced Angelis as James and Percy respectively, whilst Neil Crone and Kevin Frank replaced Breen.

What was also revealed is that Lily, 20 years later, was originally meant to be the narrator, as opposed to Mr. Conductor (Alec Baldwin) in the final cut. The whole movie was meant to be told by an Adult Lily and Patch (played by Robert Tinkler) to their child, and Baldwin was likely put in as the narrator since he was narrating the US dub of the television series at the time. A scene toward the end shows the family in a panning shot of the Pennsylvania fields. The movie also contained several flashback scenes of Young Burnett (Jared Wall) and Tasha (Laura Bower) which ended up being cut due to some involving P.T. Boomer, such as the dance they have. The scenes are only audibly heard in the movie through Burnett's imagination.

Original scripts indicate that George and Cranky were intended to be in the film. George had a major role in the film, doing most of Diesel 10's bidding. His model was never taken across for filming. Cranky had a small non-speaking role. He dropped his load of fruit over Dodge, Splatter and Percy and dropped his load of oil all over Diesel 10. His model was indeed brought over, indicated as his crane leg can be seen in Knapford yards as Diesel 10 leaves, but the role was cut in later script drafts of the film so the model was used for set dressing.

Two extra songs, known as the whistling song (not to be confused with the seventh season song of the same name) and girl in green were also present in the directors cut, but were removed for unknown reasons.

UK Trailer for the film, with the original voices:

Existing Deleted Scenes

The only scene from the original cut that was made available commercially was included on the DVD release as an extra. This scene, called "Sundae Surprise" was insignificant, showing Mr. Conductor Junior relaxing and deciding to take one more sip from his Sundae, only to be splashed by it through the giant straw.

In February 2009, a YouTube user by the name of Jord87 uploaded the original chase scene with P.T. Boomer as a dubbing project for the user's film class. However the scene was overdubbed with overbearing music from the 1998 movie Dark City as part of this dubbing project. Despite both reasonable and admittedly annoying requests from fans to upload the unedited scene, the user only responded with immature and mocking insults toward them.

The scene depicted showed Boomer being flung from the magic buffers and landing directly onto back of Diesel 10's cab, where he joins the pursuit of Lady and Burnett, and ends up falling off the viaduct with Diesel 10. The scene is slapped with a timecode and a watermark stating "Property of Destination No Unauthorized Duplication".

The scene's leak online is explained by the fact that a teacher at the Harris Institute in Toronto, Canada had worked on the movie, though only has access to the scene in question for educational purposes. He was tracked down by a forum user on Sodor Island Forums and got information that he was considering (as of March 2012) uploading the unaltered scene somewhere online. This has not happened however, but given that he is a teacher and has more important things to do, it's understandable why he forgot.

In 2013, another scene was discovered from a BBC AP Archive article from August 1999 featuring raw unused footage of a scene including P.T. Boomer (Doug Lennox). This scene in question is described in scripts as P.T. Boomer checking through a pile of 'Shining Times' newspapers. He stops at one - scribbled in the top corner are the words 'Burnett Stone - Muffle Mountain'. Boomer gives a satisfied smile as a young boy collects the pile of newspapers and cycles away.

The film reel lies with the company vaults of Sony. Several petitions have been made urging Destination Films/Sony Films to release the workprint of the movie, all in jest. Britt Allcroft does what's in her power consistently to release what she can, were a workprint release possible, she would try to get it released. Part of the reason the workprint can't be released is that it contains a temp track, meaning music from other productions that are used to set the tone for composer reference. Even so, Thomas and the Magic Railroad was a box office flop, and if one were possible, it is unlikely it would get released anyhow.

On July 21, 2014, a Vine user from Japan uploaded an original trailer made for the movie before Boomer was cut. These were low quality recordings taken in front of the TV screen, and the trailer had Japanese subtitles imposed over the video. This showed three scenes with Boomer present. One of Boomer sitting on the mountainside while seemingly stating "I'll get my revenge" (The audio lacks clarity), one of him carrying explosives and one of the explosion he set off that sends Thomas off the mountainside.

A deleted scene of Burnett building a birdhouse can be found on "The Making of Thomas and the Magic Railroad" from the German DVD release.

On August 4, 2014, a higher quality version was uploaded by the Thomas archive channel TTTEArchives. The trailer was discovered to have been sourced from a Japanese Doraemon VHS. The trailer is in full English, but with Japanese subtitles.

On November 28, 2015, P.T. Boomer's actor Doug Lennox passed away at the age of 77. In his memory, the original chase scene was uploaded to YouTube without the Dark City music. The original was passed out to various people by a SiF user in June 2015, though with the intention of keeping it private in cooperation with the wishes of the professor mentioned above. But soon enough, it was leaked by one person it was passed to. With the clear audio, it is revealed that the temp music for the score was music from the soundtracks of Stuart Little, composed by Alan Silvestri and Toy Story 2, composed by Randy Newman.

Final version of scene for comparison:

On January 4, 2016, Thomas & Friends railway consultant Sam Wilkinson posted a picture on his (now defunct) Facebook page of the beginning of an early rough cut of the film where it shows a scrapbook with a hand of an Adult Lily Stone in the beginning from the film. Sam was originally going to find more copies of the original workprint, as the rough cut he found had a lot of unfinished content. The project, according to Sam, is still ongoing, however, after a year without updates and HiT Entertainment possibly being concerned with damage control to the Thomas brand because of this, it seems very unlikely.

And finally, for those of you that really want to see the Director's Cut after reading all this, there is a petition you can sign if you want to:



Member: Rank 3
No longer lost media, I guess. Somebody leaked a complete workprint of the film in late 2019, and, in true Streisand Effect fashion, the upcoming Blu Ray release will apparently have 40 minutes of deleted scenes on it.