The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension
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|The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||W. D. Richter|
|Produced by||W. D. Richter
|Written by||Earl Mac Rauch|
|Music by||Michael Boddicker|
|Cinematography||Fred J. Koenekamp
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Box office||$6.3 million|
The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension!, often shortened to Buckaroo Banzai, is a 1984 American science fiction romantic adventure comedy film directed and produced by W. D. Richter. The premise centers upon the efforts of the multi-talented Dr. Buckaroo Banzai, a physicist, neurosurgeon, test pilot, and rock musician, to save the world by defeating a band of inter-dimensional aliens called Red Lectroids from Planet 10. The film is a cross between the action/adventure and sci-fi film genres and also includes elements of comedy, satire, and romance.
- 1 Plot
- 2 Cast
- 3 Production
- 4 Soundtrack
- 5 Reaction
- 6 Other versions
- 7 Proposed sequels
- 8 Other media
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Buckaroo Banzai (Peter Weller) and his mentor Dr. Hikita (Robert Ito) perfect the "oscillation overthruster", a device that allows one to pass through solid matter. Banzai tests it by driving his Jet Car through a mountain. While passing through it, Banzai finds himself in another dimension, and on returning to his normal dimension, he discovers an alien organism has attached itself to his car.
News of Banzai's success reaches Dr. Emilio Lizardo (John Lithgow), currently held at the Trenton Home for the Criminally Insane. In 1938, Lizardo and Hikita had built a prototype overthruster, but Lizardo tested it before it was ready, and became stuck between dimensions. Though freed, it caused him to go insane. Aware that Banzai has succeeded, Lizardo breaks out.
Banzai and the Hong Kong Cavaliers are performing at a night club when Banzai interrupts their musical intro to address a depressed and suicidal woman Penny Priddy (Ellen Barkin) in the audience. During a performance he gives especially for her she attempts suicide, which is mistaken for an assassination attempt upon Banzai. After bailing her out of jail, he finds she is the long-lost twin sister of his late wife. Later, Banzai holds a press conference about his rocket car experience, the overthruster and the specimen of alien/transdimensional life he obtained while traveling through the 8th dimension. Strange men disrupt the event and kidnap Hikita and the overthruster; due to an electrical shock from an unknown source, Banzai sees these men as reptilian humanoids. The others give chase, and Penny happens to encounter Hikita who passes her the overthruster before he is recaptured.
While planning what to do next, Banzai and the Cavaliers are met by John Parker (Carl Lumbly), a messenger from John Emdall (Rosalind Cash), the leader of the alien Black Lectroids of Planet 10, currently in Earth's orbit. Emdall explains that they have been at war with the hostile Red Lectroids for years, but had managed to banish them to the eighth dimension. Lizardo's failed test of the overthruster in 1938 allowed the Red Lectroids' leader, John Whorfin, to take over Lizardo's mind and enable several dozen others to escape. Now that Banzai has perfected the overthruster, Emdall fears Whorfin and his allies will try to acquire it to free the other Red Lectroids. Emdall had shocked Banzai previously to allow him to see the Lectroids for who they are, and now tasks him with stopping Whorfin or otherwise the Black Lectroids will fake a nuclear explosion to start World War III that will annihilate the Earth and the Red Lectroids with it. The Cavaliers track down the Red Lectroids to Yoyodyne Propulsion Systems in New Jersey, finding that their arrival in 1938 was told by Orson Welles' broadcast of The War of the Worlds until the Lectroids forced him to admit it was a work of fiction. Yoyodyne has been building a spacecraft to cross over to the eighth dimension under the pretense of a new United States Air Force bomber.
The Red Lectroids invade Banzai's headquarters and kidnap Penny, unaware she has passed the overthruster off to one of Banzai's allies. Banzai and the Cavaliers set off to gather allies and confront Whorfin at Yoyodyne, as well as warning the President of the United States as to avoid a nuclear war. At Yoyodyne, Penny refuses to tell the Lectroids where the overthruster is, and they start to torture her. Banzai arrives and chases off the Lectroids, though Penny is wounded and unconscious. While the Cavaliers tend to her, Banzai and Parker sneak into a pod on the spacecraft. Without Banzai's overthruster, Whorfin insists they use his imperfect model, which fails to make the dimensional transition and instead breaks through the Yoyodyne wall, flying off into the atmosphere. Banzai and Parker separate the pod from the main craft, and use its weapon systems to destroy Whorfin and all the other Red Lectroids. Banzai parachutes back to Earth while Parker returns to his people. With the situation resolved and war averted, Banzai finds Penny remains comatose. When he goes to kiss her, Emdall causes another brief shock to Banzai that revives Penny.
The end credits announce an unproduced sequel Buckaroo Banzai Against the World Crime League.
- Further group and minor roles
In 1974, W. D. Richter's wife read a review of Dirty Pictures from the Prom, the debut novel from Dartmouth College graduate and writer Earl Mac Rauch. Richter, also an alumnus from the college, read the book, loved it and wrote Mac Rauch a letter. The two men began corresponding and when the writer told him about his interest in becoming a screenwriter, Richter offered him an open-ended invitation to visit him in Los Angeles where he was attending the University of Southern California and working as a script analyst for Warner Brothers.
Years passed and Richter became a successful screenwriter. Mac Rauch took Richter up on his offer and arrived in L.A. Richter proceeded to introduce the writer to producer/director Irwin Winkler who gave Mac Rauch rent money for the next six months. Over several dinners, Mac Rauch told Richter and his wife about a character named Buckaroo Bandy about whom he was thinking of writing a screenplay. Richter and his wife liked the idea and paid Mac Rauch $1,500 to develop and write it. According to Mac Rauch, his script was inspired by "all those out-and-out, press-the-accelerator-to-the-floor, non-stop kung fu movies of the early '70s". Richter remembers that Mac Rauch wrote several Banzai stories and that he "would get thirty or forty pages into a script, abandon its storyline and write a new one". Mac Rauch recalled, "It's so easy to start something and then—since you're really not as serious about it as you should be—end up writing half of it ... You shove the hundred pages in a drawer and try to forget about it. Over the years, I started a dozen Buckaroo scripts that ended that way".
Mac Rauch's original 30-page treatment was entitled Find the Jetcar, Said the President - A Buckaroo Banzai Thriller. Early on, one of the revisions Mac Rauch made was changing Buckaroo's surname from Bandy to Banzai but he wasn't crazy about it. However, Richter convinced him to keep the name. The Hong Kong Cavaliers also appeared in these early drafts, but, according to Richter, "it never really went to a completed script. Mac wrote and wrote but never wrote the end". Another early draft was entitled The Strange Case of Mr. Cigars, about a huge robot and a box of Hitler's cigars. Mac Rauch shelved his work for a few years while he wrote New York, New York for Martin Scorsese and other un-produced screenplays.
In 1980, Richter talked with producers Frank Marshall and Neil Canton about filming one of his screenplays. Out of this meeting, Canton and Richter formed their own production company and decided that Buckaroo Banzai would be the first film. Under their supervision, Mac Rauch wrote a 60-page treatment entitled, Lepers from Saturn. They shopped Mac Rauch's treatment around to production executives who were their peers but no one wanted to take on such unusual subject matter by two first-time producers and a first-time director. Canton and Richter contacted veteran producer Sidney Beckerman at MGM/United Artists, with whom Canton had worked before. Beckerman liked it and introduced Richter and Canton to studio chief David Begelman. Within 24 hours they had a development deal with the studio. It took Mac Rauch a year and a half to write the final screenplay and during this time, the Lepers from the treatment became Lizards and then Lectroids from Planet 10. Much of the film's detailed character histories were taken from Mac Rauch's unfinished Banzai scripts.
A Writers Guild of America strike forced the project to languish in development for more than a year. Begelman left MGM because several of his projects had performed poorly at the box office. This put all of his future projects, Buckaroo Banzai included, in jeopardy. Begelman formed Sherwood Productions and exercised a buy-out option with MGM for the Banzai script. He took it to 20th Century Fox who agreed to make it with a $12 million budget. Mac Rauch ended up writing three more drafts before they had a shooting script.
To cast the role of Buckaroo Banzai, Richter wanted an actor who "could both look heroic with grease all over his face, and project the kind of intelligence you would associate with a neurosurgeon and inventor". The studio wanted a recognizable movie star, but Richter and Canton wanted to cast a relatively unknown actor. Richter looked in New York City because he assumed that an actor with experience on stage and small films "would be able to completely interact with props". He had been impressed by Peter Weller's performance in Shoot the Moon and met with him. At first, the actor was hesitant to take the role because he was unclear on the overall tone of the movie. "Would it be campy? Would it be a cartoon? Or would it be the sort of wacky, realistic film that would catch people sideways—and not be a cartoon", Weller remembers thinking. Richter told him Banzai's story and convinced Weller to do the film. The actor says that he based his character on Elia Kazan, Jacques Cousteau, Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci, and Adam Ant.
For the role of Dr. Emilio Lizardo, the studio wanted to cast an unknown actor, but Mac Rauch had written the role with John Lithgow in mind. Like Weller, he was not sure about the character, but Richter convinced him by "claiming what a real feast for an actor this wonderful Jekyll and Hyde character was", the actor said. Lithgow told an interviewer, "I have had roles where I came very close to going over the top. In Twilight Zone I almost went over the top several times. But this role is completely over the top. It makes the role in Twilight Zone seem like a model of restraint. I do it in a wild, red fright wig and rotten false teeth with a thick Italian accent. It's wild." For Lizardo's accent, Lithgow spent time with an Italian tailor at MGM and recorded his voice. He changed his walk to that of an "old crab, and because my alien metabolism is supposed to be messed up". Lithgow said of his character, "playing Lizardo felt like playing the madman in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari".
Ellen Barkin, who played the romantic interest "Penny Priddy", describes the film as "if Terry Southern had written Star Wars. None of the characters are quite what they should be—just my kind of thing." Richter's only choice to play John Bigbooté was Christopher Lloyd. Richter first met Jeff Goldblum on Invasion of the Body Snatchers and wanted him to play New Jersey. The actor admired his writing and was eager to work with the cast the director had assembled. Lewis Smith was asked to dye his hair blond. It took eight hours, and he saw it go from red to orange to fluorescent yellow to white.
Clancy Brown said that his character is "very common sensical. He's the everyman of the film". Robert Ito was so determined to get the role of Dr. Hikita, that he disguised himself as an old man, designing his own makeup job to age himself 30 years.
Production designer Michael Riva had worked with Richter before and spent two years working on the look for Banzai before pre-production. He and Richter studied all kinds of art and literature for the film's look, including medical journals, African magazines, and Russian history. The inspiration for the look of the Lectroid masks came from Riva sporting a lobster on his nose. Richter based the Lectroids' alien form on a Canadian anthropologist's extrapolation of what dinosaurs might have evolved into if they had survived, but modified the concept because it would have required prosthetics that would have immobilized the actors. Their makeup consisted of 12 separate pieces of latex appliances per alien. Each actor's makeup was unique, with casts taken of their faces. Their outfits were influenced by contemporary Russian lifestyles and they went with greens, blues and yellows because, according to Riva, they are "sick and anemic." Richter wanted the Black Lectroids to have a "warrior-like demeanor, but in an elegant, not fierce fashion". Their costumes came from African tribal markings. For the Red Lectroids, Riva consulted Russian history to give them a "baggy-suited, Moscow bureaucrat sort of image". For Buckaroo's look, the costume designer had him wear a Gianni Versace sports jacket and a Perry Ellis suit and tie. He also wears a recut Giorgio Armani fabric suit.
By the time of filming, Richter had a 300-page book called The Essential Buckaroo that consisted of notes and had every incomplete script Mac Rauch wrote over the years. Principal photography began during the second week of September 1983 on locations in and around South Gate, an industrial suburb of L.A. Buckaroo's neurosurgery scene with New Jersey was shot at the Lakeview Medical Center in the San Fernando Valley. The jet car sequences were shot in October on a dry lake north of the San Bernardino Mountains. The vehicle was designed and built by Riva, art director Stephen Dane and Thrust Racing owners Jerry Segal and George Haddebeck. Segal started with a Ford F-350 truck, reinforced the frame assembly, added the front end from a Grand National stock car, borrowed air scoops from a DC-3, and a one-man cockpit modeled after a Messerschmitt fighter plane. Under the hood, Segal modified the Ford engine with an oversized carburetor and nitrous oxide injectors. The Oscillation Overthruster was created by Riva and visual effects supervisor Michael Fink out of a gyroscope to which a metal frame, wires, circuits, and tiny strobe lights were added. The design was the basis for the Flux Capacitor in the 1985 film Back to the Future.[dubious ] The prop itself would ultimately be reused a number of times on various Star Trek episodes.
Cinematographer Jordan Cronenweth was initially hired as the film's director of photography but, halfway through production, producers replaced him with Fred J. Koenekamp. Several scenes shot by Cronenweth, including the iconic nightclub scene, are included in the final cut, though Cronenweth goes uncredited.
The Banzai Institute exteriors were shot in Rustic Canyon, Los Angeles, with the interiors filmed in an Art Deco house designed in 1931 by MGM art director Cedric Gibbons for his wife, Dolores del Río. Deserted rooms at Brentwood's V.A. hospital were used for Dr. Lizardo's room at the Trenton Home for the Criminally Insane. Lizardo's 1938 laboratory was filmed at a deserted industrial site, Alpha Tubing. The set decorators rented a collection of 1930s electrical props originally used in the original Boris Karloff Frankenstein films. The interiors of Yoyodyne Propulsion Systems were shot in the abandoned Firestone tire factory. The production rented warhead nosecones from Modern Props and had televisions going all the time on the set. Wilmington's Department of Water and Power provided the location for Dr. Lizardo's shock tower and served as the Yoyodyne exterior. Weller remembers that during the scene where his character is tortured by Dr. Lizardo, "I never laughed so hard in my life! They had to stop takes over and over on that segment because I was laughing at the banter between [Christopher] Lloyd and [John] Lithgow." The Armco Steel Plant in Torrance housed the Lectroid launch hangar. Finally, 12 weeks of filming were done on the backlot and soundstages at MGM. The film's closing scene, in which the characters join each other to walk as the credits play, was shot at the Sepulveda Dam, adjacent to the concrete LA River bed.
Richter and Riva did not want metal spaceships and opted for a more organic look like a deep sea oyster shell. Gregory Jein, Inc. and Stetson Visual Concepts built the spaceship models and worked off sketches by production illustrator Tom Cranham and used seashells as guides. Richter purposely gave the film an unpolished look because the "real world appears ramshackle—because people constantly repair whatever's around them".
The film's music coordinator and sound designer Bones Howe worked with musician Michael Boddicker, who wrote and performed the score, on the theme music and sound effects. Howe selected the source music for the club scene and put together a special arrangement of "Since I Don't Have You" that Buckaroo sings to Penny Priddy. Weller, an accomplished musician, played the guitar and pocket trumpet, did his own vocals, and learned to mime piano playing. Howe and the filmmakers decided not to go with a rock music score and opted for an electronic one instead. He wanted to "integrate music and sound effects so that everything would merge on the soundtrack with no distinction between music and sound". Boddicker was Howe's first choice for composer. They had worked together on the soundtrack for Get Crazy. Boddicker had just won a Grammy for his song, "Imagination", on the Flashdance soundtrack. In addition to composing the score, he also produced alien sound effects while Alan Howarth was hired to create the sounds of the 8th Dimension.
Fox hired Terry Erdmann (Blue Blaze code name "Silver Fox") and a team of publicists including Blake Mitchell and Jim Ferguson to promote the film at Star Trek conventions with a few film clips and free Banzai headbands, which have since become highly sought-after collector's items by fans of the film. The studio made no attempts to sell the film to a mainstream audience with traditional promotion, although there was some magazine advertising (primarily in Marvel Comics) and related licensing which served as viral advertising in limited venues. Studio publicist Rosemary LaSalmandra said, "Nobody knew what to do with Buckaroo Banzai. There was no simple way to tell anyone what it was about—I'm not sure anybody knew". Lithgow said, "I've tried to explain the story line to people and it takes about an hour. I mean it; it's that complicated. But it's terrific. Every time I tell people about it, I get so excited that I end it by saying, Buckaroo Banzai, remember where you heard it first!"
Buckaroo Banzai was originally scheduled to be released on June 8, 1984 but was pushed back to August 15. It opened on 236 screens and faced stiff competition against the likes of Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (also featuring Banzai co-star Christopher Lloyd), Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Ghostbusters. It made USD $620,279 on its opening weekend before finally grossing $6.2 million in North America.
Although reportedly "dismissed by most critics as 'strange' and 'unintelligible'" at the time of its release, the film received positive reviews from 71% of 34 surveyed critics on Rotten Tomatoes. Bill Cosford of The Miami Herald praised it as "an unusual film": "Its comedy springs from that odd combination of self-effacement and self-absorption that characterized some of the Saturday Night Live characters and continues to provide Bill Murray with work. And though Buckaroo Banzai is basically a comic strip, it's also relentlessly hip, hipper even than it is goofy." Cosford added, "There are inside jokes and 'quotations' from movies, television and pop music, and there's lots of weird activity on the edges of the film, so much that I suspect Banzai might even be rewarding the second time around. First or second, the film defies easy explanation. But it's anarchic comedy for the 1980s, closest in spirit to the Marx Brothers as they might have been if they grown up on themselves, and had had the benefit of post-Star Wars special effects. It's also adventure in the Buck Rogers mold, the aliens employing a wide array of weaponry, including Arachnids From Space, the good guys fighting back from a mobile command post aboard the Cavaliers' doubledecker tour bus. The pace of both jokes and action is that of Airplane!, and to say much more is only to spoil the fun."
Dave Kehr, in the Chicago Reader, wrote, "Richter seems to have invented an elaborate mythology for his hero ... but he never bothers to explicate it; the film gives you the mildly annoying sensation of being left out of a not very good private joke". In his review for The New York Times, Vincent Canby wrote that Buckaroo Banzai "may well turn out to be a pilot film for other theatrical features, though this one would be hard to top for pure, nutty fun". Richard Corliss, in his review for Time, wrote, "its creators, Earl Mac Rauch and W.D. Richter, propel their film with such pace and farfetched style that anyone without Ph.D.s in astrophysics and pop culture is likely to get lost in the ganglion of story strands. One wonders if the movie is too ambitious, facetious and hip for its own box-office good". Film critic Pauline Kael wrote, "I didn't find it hard to accept the uninflected, deadpan tone, and to enjoy Buckaroo Banzai for its inventiveness and the gags that bounce off other adventure movies, other comedies. The picture's sense of fun carried me along".
Danny Bowes, writing a retrospective in 2011 for Tor.com, said that the film "is paradoxically decades ahead of its time and yet completely of its time; it's profoundly a movie by, for, and of geeks and nerds at a time before geek/nerd culture was mainstreamed, and a movie whose pre-CG special effects and pre-Computer Age production design were an essential part of its good-natured enthusiasm. What at the time was a hip, modern take on classic SF is now, almost thirty years later, almost indistinguishable from the SF cinema that inspired it in terms of the appeal to modern viewers: the charmingly old-fashioned special effects, and the comparatively innocent earnestness of its tone."
Buckaroo Banzai was released on DVD on January 4, 2002, by MGM Home Entertainment. It was also released on Blu-ray by Arrow Video in the United Kingdom and was featured as part of Shout! Factory's Shout! Select Blu-ray line in the United States on August 16, 2016. The Shout! Factory release contains a two-hour retrospective documentary featuring interviews with Weller, Lithgow, Brown, Serna, Smith, Vera, Lloyd and director W.D. Richter, among others.
Entertainment Weekly gave the DVD release a "B+" rating and wrote, "Fans will drool over the extras, including some illuminating deleted scenes (of particular note is an alternate opening detailing Buckaroo's tragic childhood, featuring Jamie Lee Curtis as Banzai's mother) and director Richter's commentary, which reveals some colorful behind-the-scenes battles with studio execs". IGN gave the DVD their highest rating and was "thrilled by the special edition treatment that this landmark cult film has received at the hands of MGM. The video is great, the sound is great, there are tons of extras ... Bottom line, if you're a Buckaroo fan, this is the home video version you have been waiting for".
Buckaroo Banzai has since attracted a loyal cult following and has been quite popular on home video. Richter said, "It has had the most dramatic reactions of anything I've worked on. Some loathe it and others are willing to die for it". The director feels that the film failed commercially because the narrative was too complex. He would like to have had more coverage for certain scenes. He could have edited the film better and there were too many master shots and two-shots that left little for the editor to work with.
Wired Magazine, in 2009, celebrated "the 25th anniversary of the release of a film near and dear to many geeks who came of age in the '80s. The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension was a great, adventurous, geeky movie, with enough silly science fiction and great characters to fill any three lousy summer blockbusters these days... And it gave us so many great, geeky lines to quote." Cosford of The Miami Herald said in his review, "I suspect that Buckaroo's odd musings, particularly the one about being there no matter where you go, are about to enter the popular argot on the scale of "Where's the beef?"—and his prediction has been proved right. (There is a page at CafePress for Buckaroo Banzai Quotes Gifts, for example.) Entertainment Weekly ranked Buckaroo Banzai as #43 in their Top 50 Cult Movies. The film was also ranked #21 on the magazine's "The Cult 25: The Essential Left-Field Movie Hits Since '83" list. The Guardian has also cited Buckaroo Banzai as one of their "1,000 films to see before you die".
The current incarnation of the comic strip Dick Tracy has seen two subtle references to the film in the storyline. In a strip dated October 22, 2013, there is a reference to a business named "Emilio Lizardo Crematorium". In a strip dated November 7, 2013, Dick Tracy's granddaughter Honeymoon tells him she will be attending a Hong Kong Cavaliers concert with the hope of getting Perfect Tommy's autograph.
Filmmaker Wes Anderson pays homage to the ending of Buckaroo Banzai in the final sequence of his 2004 film The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. In both scenes, members of the cast (including Jeff Goldblum, who appeared in both films) join the film's lead in a long walking sequence.
A substantially longer print was shown in test screening in Texas and in Washington State before general release, but the "restored" DVD print is still missing much of the test print material.
The DVD restores a deleted opening scene consisting of a "home movie" from Banzai's childhood, narrated by Clancy Brown, who plays the character Rawhide. The scene depicts an early test of a precursor to the Jet Car, built by Buckaroo's parents and Dr. Hikita. The test ends in disaster, as the Jet Car has been sabotaged by the evil Hanoi Xan, leader of the World Crime League (The WCL is listed in the closing credits as the subject of the never-made sequel). The "home movie" ends, and dissolves to the present-day opening scene of the film depicting Buckaroo's test run of the latter-day Jet Car. Jamie Lee Curtis plays Buckaroo Banzai's mother, Sandra Banzai.
The novelization by Mac Rauch is told through false documents written and compiled by Reno Nevada and further expands on the backstory of the film, including the murder of Peggy Banzai (her twin sister Penny plays a role in the film) by the minions of Asian crime lord Hanoi Xan, the deaths of Buckaroo's parents in an early Jet Car accident and at least two other fictitious novels.
The 102-minute version released on DVD in January 2002 has a subtitle track with director's commentary-style information and a fake documents feature. The packaging and literature with the DVD maintain a mythos that Buckaroo Banzai is a real person, that the Banzai Institute exists and that the movie is in fact a docu-drama of the real adventures of Buckaroo Banzai. The producers make claims such as having had brief tours of the Banzai Institute, having met and interviewed several members of the Hong Kong Cavaliers and that the script required approval from the Institute.
Buckaroo Banzai Against the World Crime League
The credits mention a sequel, Buckaroo Banzai Against the World Crime League, which was never produced: the film would have focused on the League and its leader, Hanoi Xan. MGM now owns the rights to the Banzai franchise (after being passed on from now-defunct Sherwood Productions and its successors), so any sequel or remake is at their discretion.
In late 1998, the Fox Network tried to develop a Buckaroo Banzai TV series, entitled Buckaroo Banzai: Ancient Secrets and New Mysteries, but nothing ever came of it. The special edition DVD contains a short computer animated sequence; done by Foundation Imaging, that was made as a test reel for the series. Among other things, the clip depicts a Space Shuttle trying to land with broken landing gear. Dr. Banzai maneuvers his Jet Car under the Shuttle and uses it to take the place of the broken gear.
In May 2016, Kevin Smith announced he is adapting the film for television through MGM and that he and the company are in the process of shopping it around to a network. In July 2016, it was announced that Amazon Studios was close to closing a deal to produce the series. In November 2016 during a Facebook Live Stream, Smith revealed that he would be walking away from the series after MGM filed a lawsuit against the original creators. Although Smith stated he would be willing to come back on board if they wanted him.
The novelization of the first film was reprinted to coincide with the release of the movie on DVD. In the foreword, Mac Rauch mentions that the Buckaroo Banzai series would be continued in a series of novels.
In conjunction with the film's 1984 release, Marvel Comics published a comic book adaptation by writer Bill Mantlo and artists Mark Texeira and Armando Gil in Marvel Super Special #33. The adaptation was also released as a two-issue limited series.
In 2006, Moonstone Books began publishing comic books depicting earlier and further adventures of Buckaroo Banzai and the Hong Kong Cavaliers. The first story, Buckaroo Banzai: Return of the Screw, was written by Buckaroo Banzai's creator, Earl Mac Rauch. The black-and-white preview edition of the comic was released in February 2006, featuring a behind-the-scenes article by Dan Berger regarding the transformation of the rejected Buckaroo Banzai television pilot script Supersize those Fries into the present comic book limited series. The three issues of this comic have been collected into a trade paperback.
In December 2007, Moonstone released a new Banzai comic story, "A Christmas Corrall," in the Moonstone Holiday Super Spectacular compilation, also written by Rauch and drawn by Ken Wolak.
The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai: Across the Eighth Dimension is an interactive fiction video game released in 1984 for Apple II, Atari 8-bit, Commodore 16, Commodore Plus/4, Commodore 64, DOS and ZX Spectrum. It was created by Scott Adams and published by Adventure International.
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