Hollywood Lost and Found - Buckaroo Banzai

On August 10th, 1984, 20th Century Fox released an offbeat science fiction film, "The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai," written by Earl Mac Rauch and directed by W.D. Richter. It featured Peter Weller in the title role of a rockstar/neurosurgeon/physicist who, while perfecting a device for traveling through solid matter, discovers the threat of aliens from the 8th Dimension trying to take over the world. The film also starred Jeff Goldblum, Ellen Barkin, John Lithgow, Christopher Lloyd, Clancy Brown, Carl Lumbly, and Billy Vera.

The film was originally made at MGM, but the studio ultimately chose not to release it. "Buckaroo Banzai" was picked up by 20th Century Fox as part of a package deal (which also included the film "Mr. Mom"). But the studio had little faith in its success - and cursed it with a weak advertising campaign and limited distribution.

When it opened, reviews were mixed, at best. Leonard Maltin called it "incoherent, like coming in at the second chapter of a Saturday Matinee serial." Critics who "got it" described it as "a silly movie for smart people." Gary Franklin of KCBS News in Los Angeles said "Weirdo that I am - I liked the movie!"

Despite its obstacles, the film slowly developed a large cult following. Letters from fans poured into Fox, and a small group of people that I later joined began to answer them. An informal fan club was created. Working out of the studio's publicity offices, we dutifully responded to as much of the mail as possible, distributing publicity materials left over from the film's advance publicity campaign.

When the movie was first released on video, it was enormously successful... and the film was released on DVD for the first time in 2001, again with very strong sales. There is also talk of a television series, which is currently in development at Fox by the film's writer and director.

"Buckaroo Banzai" fans frequently ask me if I have anything from the movie in my archives that no one has seen before. I have recently found several pictures taken during the film's production ... many of which have not been previously published. I hope you enjoy seeing them.

Steve Lee (aka "Clyde Von Drake")

Updated 10 August 2002

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All "Buckaroo Banzai" images and logos © 1984 Orion Pictures Corporation.
Photos by Bruce McBroom.

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