"Robotech: The Movie", also credited as "The Untold Story", was a English theatrical adaptation of the Japanese OVA "Megazone 23, Part 1". It was adapted by Carl Macek into a spin-off of the Robotech series, with his intentions being that it would essentially serve as a prequel to the planned Robotech II: The Sentinels TV series, being set during the events of Robotech: The Macross Saga.
The film was produced by Cannon Films, which demanded changes at the last minute after studio heads saw the film and complained that it had "too many girls, not enough guns." This forced Macek to entirely rewrite the script from the ground up, changing the timeline of the film and inserting footage from Southern Cross to add more fight sequences as requested by Cannon.
After one test run at a movie theatre in Texas, the film was officially canceled, although it was released on VHS and Laserdisc in several European and Spanish countries. Macek later denounced the film, saying that despite the intrigue it simply wasn't worth seeing.
In the year 1999, the alien spacecraft SDF-1 crashed on Earth, followed ten years later by the alien Zentraedi, seeking to reclaim the vessel for their rulers, the Robotech Masters. The First Robotech War erupted over the vessel, ending with a victory for humankind, at the cost of the SDF-1 itself. Now, in 2027, the Robotech Masters themselves arrive in Earth’s solar system aiming to recover the ship’s still-functional mother computer, being studied at Earth’s Robotech Research Center in Japan. The Masters launch a covert attack on a small human settlement, killing Colonel B.D. Andrews of the Army of the Southern Cross and secretly replacing him with a clone. Following a disastrous attack by the ASC on the Masters’ flagship, the Andrews clone proposes that the military take charge of use the mother computer to formulate a defense against the Masters. When his proposal is approved, he secretly begins beaming the contents of the computer’s database to the Masters, after which they plan to destroy the Earth.
Suspicious over the military’s decision to hide the Masters’ existence from the populous, soldier Todd Harris steals the "MODAT 5" - a mobile terminal remotely connected to the mother computer in the form of a motorcycle - and seeks help from his friend Mark Landry, telling him to contact “Eve”. Troops under the Andrews clone’s command accost the pair, and Todd dies in an escape attempt before he can fully explain everything to Mark. Mark manages to escape with the MODAT 5, but unaware of its true significance, winds up merely using it as a prop in an amateur movie being shot by Kelley Stevens, a friend of his girlfriend, aspiring dancer Becky Michaels.
Seeing a music video from popular idol Eve, Mark presumes that she was who Todd wanted to contact and telephones her talk show to tell her about the MODAT. The call is traced by Andrews’s men, leading to a freeway chase during which the bike automatically reconfigures into a humanoid mecha form to fend off Mark's attackers. Mark proceeds to sneak into the TV studio from which Eve’s show is broadcast and discovers that the singer is not a real person at all, but a holographic projection. Eve explains that she is the "Enhanced Video Emulation" artificial intelligence of the SDF-1’s computer, and informs Mark of the Masters' plan. Eve leads Mark to the Robotech Research Center, where Mark engages and defeats “Andrews” in a mecha battle, but accidentally let's slip the existence of Kelley’s film footage of the MODAT. Escaping, Mark attempts to warn Becky, but his recent distractedness has alienated her, and it is not until he rescues her from being sexually assaulted by an unscrupulous dance show director that the pair reconcile.
ASC forces under the command of Rolf Emerson stage another attack on the Masters’ fleet and again meet with failure thanks to Andrews using the mother computer to feed them bad data and control their movements. When a concerned technician reports Andrews’s suspicious actions to Professor Embry, head of the Ministry of Computer Sciences, the computer is ordered to be shut down. Andrews stages a coup and takes control of the Japanese government, ordering the computer reactivated and the transmission of its database resumed. Amid the chaos of the coup, Kelly is killed by Andrews’s men and her film of the MODAT is stolen. Realizing the threat Andrews poses, Embry prepares to depart for Alaska Base, location of a second terminal that will allow him to take control of the computer, but is delayed by waiting for his daughter Stacy – Kelley’s roommate – to join him.
The Masters’ flagship descends to Earth and they deliver an ultimatum to the ASC, but in doing so, reveal the link between the computer and their vessel. Exploiting the link to discern a weak spot in the Masters’ defenses, the ASC is able to cripple their flagship, and when it crashes, the rest of the fleet retreats. Simultaneously, Mark, seeking revenge, attacks the research center to flush out Andrews. Defeated and left for dead by Andrews, who departs to intercept Embry, Mark is contacted through the wrecked MODAT by Eve, who directs him to commandeer a prototype space fighter that carries him to the airport just in time to save Embry and Stacy from Andrews’s attack.
Transforming the space fighter to robot mode, Mark has one final battle with Andrews that ends with him killing the clone and triumphantly reuniting with Becky.
- Becky Michaels: Who do you think you are?
Mark Landry: Steve McQueen?
- Stacy Embry: *phone rings* City dump, hello? Oh, Hi Mark, We've been watching your screen test.
- Tech worker: Say, Col. Andrews, I know its none of my business, but do ya think it's possible those aliens are intercepting our transmission of the Matrix somehow? Maybe we should shut her down till we're sure.
B.D. Andrews: You're absolutely right my friend, it is none of your business. Now keep that data moving! (Andrews hangs up)
- Mark Landry: Alright, so I don't own you. Nobody owns you. But can I at least borrow you for tonight?
- Mark Landry: She'd kill me if she knew I was spying on her. But what the heck. That Roger gives me the creeps. Besides, it gives me the chance to play with this surveillance equipment. Maybe I'll get a better picture if I go up another level. (Backs up and damages a car) Ooooh! I hope that was Roger's car.
- Ryan O'Flannigan - Mark Landry, Strategic Air Command Tech 2 & Additional Voices
- Brittany Harlowe - Becky Michaels
- Muriel Fargo - Eve
- Greg Snow - Colonel B.D. Andrews & Newscaster 2
- Jeffrey Platt - Rolf Emerson, Rider 1 & Additional Voices
- Guy Garrett - Anatole Leonard, Red Master Elder 1 & Yellow Master Elder 2
- Abe Lasser - Yellow Master Elder 1, Roger & Red Master Elder 2
- Mearle Pearson - Professor Embry
- Penny Sweet - Kelley Stevens
- Wendee Swan - Stacy Embry
- Wayne Anthony - Green Master Elder, Northern Province Officer & Additional Voices
- Spike Niblick - Additional Voices
- Bruce Nielson - Strategic Air Command Soldier 1, Delta Blue, Mark's Buddy 2, Leonard's Subordinate 3, Stunt Rider 4 & Additional Voices
- Ike Medlick - Master Subordinate 2, Underground Tech Announcement & Additional Voices
- Ton Warner - Lt. Todd Harris
- Jonathan Alexander - MODAT Security Commander
- Etienne Bannliett - Major in Andrews' Forces, Additional Voices
- Colin Philips - Underground Tech 2, Northern Province Tech & Additional Voices
- Christopher Frank - Nick
- A. Gregory - Pop, Frank Partner, PM, MODAT Security 2nd-in-Command & Additional Voices
- Jaque Maecell - Dr. Peters, Fake Good Samaritan 1
- Drew Thomas - Strategic Air Command Colonel, Subordinate with Andrews in Truck 1, Northern Province Cannon Operator, Helix 1, Hangar Soldier 3 & Additional Voices
- Max Christian - Additional Voices
- Ray Michaels - Government Official & Captain in Andrews' Forces
- Ardwight Chamberlain - Master Subordinate 1, TV Station Tech 1, Todd and Nick's Comrade, Strategic Air Command Tech 1, Newscaster 3, Strategic Air Command Soldier 2
- Cam Clarke - Branch Tech 2 & Additional Voices
- J. Jay Smith - Narrator
- Barry Stigler - Frank, Leonard's Subordinate 1, Subordinate with Andrews in Truck 2, Additional Voices
The original premise of the film was to take place during the first generation of the original series; while the SDF-1 was returning from its fold jump to Pluto. It was to feature Mark Harris, a relative of Rick Hunter. It's possible that the character named "Pop" in the final cut of the film was originally supposed to be Pop Hunter, Rick Hunter's father. The antagonist of the film would be named B.D. Edwards, and would be the same character as T. R. Edwards. The film would follow Mark's discovering a Robotech mecha and trying to stop B.D. from taking over the world, eventually failing. The film was produced in this format, and was shipped to Cannon Films to watch over. Macek would later claim he had the original cut on VHS and would claim the voice acting was bad, filled with grunts and groans, and that furthermore the edit sent over did not feature the freshly animated finale.
The studio heads at Cannon thought that this version had "too many girls and not enough guns". So Macek, who was in the midst of producing Robotech II: The Sentinels in Japan, was recalled back to America to retool the film.
The new version would now take place during the second generation and would show the start of the Second Robotech War with the Robotech Masters. Thus, Edwards (Who would have been in space in the SDF-3 at that point) had to be changed to B.D. Andrews. When Edwards was brought back for The Sentinels, he had to be renamed "T.R. Edwards," and his hair had to be changed to blond instead of black. Despite this, the two share similar designs. Elements of the first movie still stayed, such as a mention of Alaska Base and the aforementioned "Pop" character.
This new version of the film, however, left some glaring inconsistencies with the original series. In addition, this new story required bits of Southern Cross to be spliced into the original Megazone 23 material. Megazone 23 was filmed in 32mm while Southern Cross was 16mm, which was more than noticeable on the silver screen.
The pre-production problems, and the fact that the film did not survive past its test run, have given rise to a number of rumors. The two most foremost being that: Carl Macek hated the film and the film did poorly at the box office during its test run. However, an interview with Carl Macek on the Anime News Network has proven both rumors to be untrue.
While Macek never held any interest in releasing the film in a home video context himself, he had no particular disdain for the film.
The film tested along with two other notable movies of the time: James Cameron's Aliens and Roman Polanski's Pirates. Robotech the Movie did respectively well against Aliens and "beat the hell out of Pirates".
In another interview, Macek clarified that the problem was that Cannon thought Robotech the Movie as a "kids' film". And when the demographics came back about a month after the test run, they saw that most of the audience were adults. This posed a problem, as Cannon had purchased advertising time only during child-oriented programming. It was at this time that Cannon decided to pull the film until it could be properly retooled yet again, and missed the summer release period. Unfortunately, before any further work could be done on the film, the bottom dropped out of Cannon Films and Robotech: the Movie only saw wide release in foreign (non-American) markets (as Harmony Gold retained international, non-Japan and non-USA rights to distribute).
The Masters portion of the film were released as part of the Robotech: The Complete Series DVD release, as by this stage Harmony Gold had not retained the rights to distribute Megazone 23. Laserdisc and Bluray releases of Megazone 23 have consistently featured the animated sequence made for the end of the film, typically under the title "Present for you."
Robotech: The Movie was a two part comic series adapted from the film. It featured an original ending not seen in the film, apparently inspired by the anime Dirty Pair.