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Trivia / The Transformers: The Movie

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  • Beam Me Up, Scotty!: Ultra Magnus' infamous line of "I can't deal with that now" is frequently misquoted as "I can't deal with that right now."
  • Box Office Bomb: Budget, $6 million. Box office, $5,849,647. This along with the failure of My Little Pony: The Movie (1986) cost Hasbro a combined $10 million. It being put against a negative critical reception (one review even rating both it and the otherwise better-received The Fly (1986) one star in the same breath) and backlash about it being a ripoff of A New Hope, its Family-Unfriendly Death scenes, and cynical view of its own toyline and characters as disposable would help seal its fate.
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  • Breakaway Pop Hit: Stan Bush's "The Touch". So much so that, to this day, nearly 30 years after the initial film's release, it is the top-selling song from its soundtrack and is a staple for usage in fan parodies and abridged series.
  • Celebrity Voice Actor: Judd Nelson, Eric Idle, Lionel Stander, Robert Stack, John Moschitta and, most famously, Leonard Nimoy and Orson Welles. Scatman Crothers can count too, but he was already in the TV show and not hired specifically for the movie.
    • One story that Neil Ross likes to tell is how Lionel Stander had trouble reading for voice-over, being used to screen acting, so Ross would come around in front of Stander so he'd have someone to "act" to for his lines.
  • Children Voicing Children: Daniel Witwicky was voiced by actor David Mendenhall, who was in his mid-teens during production.
  • Creator Backlash:
    • Some reports indicate that Orson Welles was displeased with his role as Unicron, derogatorily referring to the Transformers as "toys" and elaborating that "I play a planet. I menace somebody called Something-or-other. Then I'm destroyed. My plan to destroy Whoever-it-is is thwarted and I tear myself apart on the screen." However, the film's director has gone on record to state that Welles had a special fondness for animated films and was ecstatic to take up the role.
      • It's worth mentioning that while Welles might have found the concept of the Transformers odd, lending his voice to an animated feature was definitely not, having voiced the narration to Rudyard Kipling's Rikki-Tikki-Tavi (animated by Chuck Jones) years earlier.
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    • Hasbro in the years since the film has acknowledged that killing Optimus Prime and the others to promote new toys was a reckless and poor decision. Nowadays, Optimus dying and coming back is a Running Gag in the franchise.
    • Peter Cullen has also stated that he initially hated Optimus' death. In his case though, it was more to do with the fact that they didn't tell him he was losing his job until he was recording. He approved of the actual death itself, however, appreciating how they made it meaningful.
  • Dueling Works: With Challenge Of The Go Bots: Battle of the Rock Lords, the other animated film about giant transforming robots released in 1986. Both were Box Office Bombs but The Transformers: The Movie still made more money overall and is still a major part of the Transformers brand over 30 years after its release, so its clearly the winner in this duel.
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  • Early Draft Tie-In: The Marvel comic was based on an earlier script.
  • Easter Egg:
    • Inside Unicron after he eats Lithone, there are frames inside him with a post-apocalyptic backgrounds inside him, which are no doubt from Toei's movie adaptation of Fist of the North Star, as this movie was made after.
    • Pause during the scene in the Quintessons' jail cells and you'll see remains of some destroyed robots. Look closely and you can see that the mangled bodies on the floor are actually miscolored Mobile Suits, mostly from Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam.
  • Money, Dear Boy: Orson Welles, Leonard Nimoy, and Eric Idle's motivation for playing Unicron, Galvatron, and Wreck-Gar, respectively.
    • Possibly subverted for Welles, who had expressed admiration for animated cinema as noted above.
  • No Export for You: There was a very long pause of distribution for Japan, since while Toei Animation help create the film, the movie did not get released until Transformers Victory aired. Because of this, several characters who should be dead (ex. Prowl) ended up being unintentionally Spared by the Adaptation.
  • Keep Circulating the Tapes: The Japanese version of the film is hard to find these days. The only way you find it online is through bootlegs or Japanese tapes, but even that's hard to find.
  • Old Shame: Reportedly, Leonard Nimoy was so embarrassed by his participation that he avoided talking about it. Nowadays, it's remembered as one of his better (and few) villain roles, even by Nimoy himself, who was quoted around the time of Revenge of the Fallen as wanting very much to be a part of Transformers again. The opportunity finally arose with Dark of the Moon, wherein he plays Sentinel Prime.
  • The Other Darrin:
    • When Megatron got upgraded to Galvatron, his voice changed to Leonard Nimoy during the story itself. After the movie, he changed back to Frank Welker. (Ironically, Welker would use a higher-pitched voice for Galvatron than he had for Megatron.)
    • In the series, Ultra Magnus went from Robert Stack to Jack Angel, Kup went from Lionel Stander to John Stephenson, Tony Pope replaced Eric Idle as Wreck-Gar, Roger C. Carmel took Orson Welles's position as Unicron's voice actor, and Rodimus Prime's Judd Nelson became Richard Gautier. John Moschitta stayed as Blurr, however.
    • There is a long-prevailing myth among the fandom that Orson Welles died before the recording of Unicron's final lines and that Leonard Nimoy completed for them - with the recordings speeded down to match Welles' pitch. Voice director Wally Burr has since debunked this in interviews, however.
  • Posthumous Credit: The film was released about a year after Unicron's voice actor Orson Welles died. Welles recorded his lines five days before his death.
  • Urban Legend of Zelda: There have been quite a few myths and misconceptions surrounding the movie, such as an ultra-violent, ultra-profane cut of the film existing, as well as a scene of Optimus Prime crumbling to dust after his death (often confused with the scene where Starscream does crumble when Galvatron kills him), and that the film coined the term "ginormous".
  • Reality Subtext: Reports of Orson Welles disliking his role aside, he was in poor health at the time of recording his lines (he passed away just a month later) and had to attend his session in a wheelchair, and he hadn't looked at the script beforehand. This is why in many of his lines, Unicron sounds stoic and even bored; Welles didn't have the ability to put more energy into his performance and had a limited understanding of what his lines meant anyway. This ended up working out, however, as Unicron sounding bored in things is fitting for a Physical God who is communing with mortal minions who are getting snippy with him. It also makes the moments when he does display emotion all the more powerful, because since Unicron is The Stoic, any time he becomes noticeably angry or annoyed means he's really angry or annoyed.
  • Saved by the Fans: An indirect example. Bumblebee, Jazz, and Soundwave were some of the series' most popular characters, and as a result, their toys sold well enough to be shipped for another year. This granted them a reprieve from the Kill 'Em All! edict that most of the original cast suffered in this movie.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Originally, the body-count at The Battle of Autobot City was going to be even greater for both sides.
      • Smokescreen was originally going to be the Autobot lying dead beside Windcharger instead of Wheeljack, who would have explicitly been shown to have survived the battle.
      • Mirage would have used his cloaking abilities to snipe Bombshell before being fired upon and killed by Megatron.
      • Ultra Magnus, Red Alert, Sideswipe, and Tracks would get a scene where they fight Devastator shortly before Optimus and Megatron's final battle, leading to Red Alert being shot to death by the Constructicons. This scene would have filled in some minor gaps in the flow of the sequence; the Constructicons chasing after Magnus, Sideswipe, and Tracks was the sight Megatron was smiling at before Optimus confronts him, while Red Alert's dead body was going to be seen during Optimus and Megatron's battle, and it was explicitly going to be his gun that Megatron used to fatally wound Optimus.
      • Trailbreaker's lifeless body would have been seen as the Decepticons fled in Astrotrain.
      • Thundercracker and Skywarp were going to lead a squad of Decepticons to breach the walls of Autobot city, leading to them being bisected by Bluestreak and shot to death by Hound, respectively.
      • Reflector would have been destroyed when the Autobots fire the missile launcher at Devastator.
    • The scene with Ironhide's team on the shuttle would have been slightly longer, with a prelude of them flying through an asteroid field, explaining why they failed to detect the Decepticons before it was too late.
    • Starscream, Skywarp, Astrotrain, and Blitzwing were going to dogpile Optimus before his fight with Megatron, with Blitzwing knocking his gun away, explaining why Optimus doesn't have it for the most of the fight.
    • Shockwave was to die by Unicron's hand (literally) when he comes to Cybertron, thus explaining his absence in Season 3. The scene was never animated, making it ambiguous if he survived or not. IDW, however, added Shockwave's death into its adaptation of the movie (though rather than being crushed, he gets disintegrated by Unicron's eye beams).
    • Likewise, the earlier drafts of the films featured many, many different elements, and some pretty nasty and violent deaths. In one revision, Windcharger was to be flown up and torn apart by Cyclonus, his remains falling down on a shocked Blaster. Another version described Ironhide and Ratchet's deaths as them being fused together from all the laser blasts, then blown apart. Yet another described Gears being blown apart in a carpet-bombing run by Scourge and the Sweeps.
    • At one point Megatron was not to be jettisoned from Astrotrain, but brought back to Cybertron... only to be killed by a falling statue while other Decepticons fought for leadership. His ghost ("life spark") - as well as ghosts of Decepticon legends enshrined nearby - drifts helplessly off into space, eventually gathered by Unicron to become Galvatron and his troops.
    • Early drafts included a large number of generic Decepticons participating in the assault on Autobot City. That way, Perceptor's comment about the Autobots being outnumbered would have actually made sense.
    • The revelation of the Quintessons being the creators of the Transformers originated in an early draft.
    • Also, Optimus merges with Cybertron, transforming into a giant planet-sized robot to fight Unicron.
    • In the original art and storyboards, the Junkion's homeworld was intended to be a spherical planet, with several rounded slabs seeming to rise off of its surface. In the end, only the "northernmost" rounded section of the planetoid was retained on film.
    • Story editor Flint Dille disliked the original script so much that he hastily wrote another one, titled The Secret of Cybertron, featuring Optimus journeying to find the Transformers' origins. This is where the idea of a transforming Cybertron originated from. Also, Unicron would have been a pawn of the Quintessons. The execs, however, quickly dismissed the script.
    • At one point, the writers toyed with the idea of having Unicron threaten Earth as well as Cybertron. This threat would then be dealt with by Blaster and a number of Season 1 and 2 Autobots (including Wheeljack, who was not killed off in this version of the script).
    • Magnus would have been drawn and quartered during his "death" on the Planet of Junk. The animation even shows the Sweeps firing laser "ropes" at him. However this method was deemed too gruesome, so in the finished movie, the "ropes" suddenly turn into regular laser blasts, and Magnus just explodes. The part where the Junkions put him back together is also a remnant of the original scene.
    • Some of the original script drafts didn't feature the Matrix — Unicron would have simply torn himself apart. When a similar concept to the Matrix was introduced, it wasn't the artifact we know it as today, but was for a while imagined as the "Life Spark" (ghost) of Optimus Prime transferring into the body of Ultra Magnus. The toy of Ultra Magnus was basically just a white Optimus wearing super-armor, which is probably where the idea came from.
    • Unicron's working name was "the Entity". In one early script, Unicron was only the name of his planet mode, with his robot form being called "Ingestor". The Reveal at the end of the movie would have been that Ingestor is actually the planet (whereas before he would pretend to be the planet's sole inhabitant).
    • In another early draft, a group of Autobots called the Anibots would have combined together into a dragon to battle Devastator during the Battle of Autobot City. It seems the idea of the Anibots eventually became the Predacons.
    • The Decepticons' battle for leadership would have been more developed in the original screenplay.
      • After Rumble & Frenzy forcibly disassemble Devastator, Blitzwing would've proclaimed that he should be the ruler, as a being a Triple-Changer makes him worth two Decepticons.
      • Soundwave would have had his Out-of-Character Moment explained, planning on using his role as leader solely to order Astrotrain to go back for Megatron.
      • The scene would've ended with a shot of Starscream smirking while hiding in the back of Astrotrain, explaining how he "won" the fight for leadership.
    • Hot Rod and Galvatron's confrontation within Unicron would have contained a line wherein Galvatron reveals his true name - Megatron - to the Autobot. This would have clarified that Galvatron at the very least still sees himself as the same individual as Megatron, something the finished movie and subsequent third season of the cartoon leaves a bit more ambiguous, while also contextualizing one of his earlier lines note  as a desire to not yet reveal his true identity to the Autobots, as opposed to there being identity discontinuity between Megatron and Galvatron.
    • Of all the characters introduced in the movie, only Ultra Magnus is based on an existing toy and isn't an original design. Floro Dery did create original designs for Magnus before he became a recolor of the Diaclone Powered Convoy, one of which became the basis for Orion Pax in the Season 2 episode "War Dawn".
    • Test footage (later used in a Japanese promo for the movie) showed Ultra Magnus in the colors of the original Diaclone Powered Convoy toy, as opposed to what his final color scheme ended up being.
    • Blaster's cassettes were, in one script, made of Cubbie (a lion), Stripes (a tiger), Stinger (a scorpion) and Bolts (a robot). The final film renamed Cubbie as "Steeljaw", split Bolts into Eject and Rewind and replaced the other two with Ramhorn. TakaraTomy would eventually release a Stripes figure in 2012, though as of 2018 his only appearances in fiction have been in Japanese toy pack-in manga strips and the Hasbro Transformers Collector's Club magazine's Recordicons strips.
    • Carly was supposed to make a voiceless cameo in the film's ending.
    • The script did not specify which Decepticons were thrown off Astrotrain with Megatron, explaining why Thundercracker, Skywarp, and the Insecticons continue to make minor appearances throughout the film.
    • An early design for the Quintessons gave them spindly bipedal bodies with large heads, and they possessed the ability to disconnect their heads from their bodies and link up to different ones.
    • Originally, Autobot City was going to be depicted as a massive (clean) energy gathering facility, equipped with hydroelectric dams, wind turbines, and solar panels. This explains why Optimus sends Ironhide & co. to the city explicitly to stock up on Energon, and why Megatron places priority on destroying Autobot City - destroying the city means cutting off the Autobots' energy supply.


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