greatest night at the movies – ever (updated)


This coming Saturday (June 20, 2009) the American Cinemateque’s Aero Theater in Santa Monica will be screening the single greatest night of filmed entertainment in motion picture history: for this first time ever in this country, not one, not two, but all three old school Battlestar Galactica  feature films will be shown.  What’s that?  You knew the original pilot was shown in theaters in Sensurround but what the hell is all this gibberish about three  feature films?  Read on, old friend…

As most of you probably know, in order to help recoup the cost of the enormously expensive three-hour pilot, the original Battlestar Galactica  was cut down to two hours and shown theatrically outside the US.  It was such a hit Universal decided to release it in American theaters after the show had premiered, but used the gimmick of Sensurround to help draw people in.




What is less common knowledge is that Universal had planned to release episodes of BSG to foreign theaters on a regular basis (this is why there are so many two-part episodes).  The episodes “Living Legend” and “Fire in Space” were cut together to make the movie “Mission Galactica: The Cylon Attack.”  This made it into overseas theaters and eventually found its way onto HBO in the states (which is how I first found out about it).




I’m not sure how well “Mission Galactica” did, but it was the only BSG episode to actually find theatrical release… until Galactica: 1980  made its debut.  I’ve never seen it, but a heavily edited version of Galactica’s bastard stepchild found it’s way into European theaters under the name “Conquest of the Earth”  (I assume this was to round out and conclude the “Galactica trilogy”).




In any case, the Aero is running a triple-feature Galactica  marathon on Saturday, showing all three of these beginning at 7:30 pm (click here to visit the theater’s home page).  I saw the pilot in a theater just a few years ago, but what I’m really looking forward to is seeing Living Legend  up on the big screen and finally getting a look at “Conquest of the Earth”  (no doubt the audience of die-hard BSG fans are going to have fun with that  one).

If you live in the Los Angeles area and want to join us for the ultimate original Galactica  experience, send me a message in the “about me” section and I’ll fill you in on the details!   And if you don’t live nearby – that’s what planes are for.  So come and join us for what may be a once-in-a-lifetime event.

I’ll be sure to post a write-up about the screening on Monday.

UPDATE:  The Aero is going to have a few of the original visual effects artists on hand to discuss their work, and they’re going to screen some never-before-seen home movies Dennis Muren had shot while working on the original movie at Apogee.   In addition, reader Peter Noble tells us that members of the Resin Illuminati modelling forum (www.resinilluminati.com) will be on hand with models to show off as well as a recently restored original Rag Tag Fleet ship!


28 Responses to “greatest night at the movies – ever (updated)”

  1. June 17, 2009 at 3:44 am

    So wait, they glued together \”Living Legend\” and \”Fire In Space\”? That must have been a fairly disjointed film: one two-parter and a stand-alone being turned into one story.

  2. June 17, 2009 at 5:35 am

    Sigh. Lucky guy.

    In Europe we have to wait until Juni 2010 to see (hopefully) “Battlestar Gallactica” and “Mission Galactica” at the Sensurround-Festival in Karlsruhe …

  3. 3 ety3
    June 17, 2009 at 8:45 am

    I wish I lived in LA.

  4. 4 Buckaroohawk
    June 17, 2009 at 9:13 am

    I saw the original Battlestar Galactica pilot film in theaters when I was a kid. The Sensurround effect was thunderous, especially when the Colonial Vipers went flying past the camera, and I remember actually having to cover my ears when the Battlestar Atlantia exploded.

    Oh my, I didn’t just give away a spoiler, did I? ;-)

    It would be fun to see these up on the big screen again. Enjoy yourself, Mojo. I’m sure you’ll have a blast.

  5. 5 Ein Staunender
    June 17, 2009 at 10:10 am

    It’s really a little bit disjointed, but over all it works better as one would expect. Here in Germany, this three »classical« BSG movies were over and over repeated in the television.

    In fact, most german fans only know the two-hour version of the three-hour pilot … only recently there was the first official publication of the longer version as the german DVD’s came out.

  6. 6 Dan
    June 17, 2009 at 10:15 am

    I watched a couple of Classic eps on Hulu a few weeks ago. I watched Gun On Ice Planet Zero and the series finale, The Hand of God. It was the first time I had seen these eps in years.

    You know, for all the crap the original show takes for being “cheesy,” it could actually be quite good when it was at its best. Sure, it aired at 7 pm and was on in 1978, so it is not going to be nuanced and sophisticated. But with a little tweaking (cut the daggit, cut the kid, make the characters more realistic) and updating, it could be a really good show today on its own terms and w/o going the totally dark RDM route.

    As an added bonus, the surviving humans don’t give up their technological base after a 2 minute speech by Apollo. That kind of nonsense only occurs on the highly sophisticated, very mature reimagined show.

    If they do a classic movie, as has been rumored, I will definitely be psyched about it.

  7. June 17, 2009 at 10:36 am

    If you go, you will be in for a treat, as Resin Illuminati modelling (www.resinilluminati.com) forum member ‘GKvfx’ will have his models there, along with some of the original Apogee and Hartland Motion Control gear. RI forum member ‘Carson Dyle’ is going to bring some of his stuff. There will be a display of photos that no one has ever seen, as well as an original Rag-Tag Fleet ship that hasn’t seen the light of day or been photographed in 30 years (and it’s one that you will recognize in an instant – it was in the title sequence of every episode). There might be some guests and a couple of other surprises.

    I wish I could go, but it’s a 5,000-mile trip.

    And yes, I’ve seen all three BSG films.

  8. June 17, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    Disco, as I recall, it’s not a seamless fit, but it’s actually not as bad as you might think. The “Fire in Space” stuff is slotted in during the “Living Legend” sequence where the Cylons are pummeling Galactica and the Pegasus arrives to save the day. In the Mission Galactica version, the Cylons are chased off and the Galactica crew has to fight the fire; once it’s out, we resume the regular “Living Legend” storyline.

    One of the few times where BSG: TOS’s constant reuse of effects footage actually works, because we see the same “Galactica on fire” shots in both episodes. :)

  9. June 17, 2009 at 1:47 pm

    All three were shown here in Peru at movie theaters back then… and yes, I went to watch them. Didn’t get to see the first one in Sensurround, though (only one movie theater, the Roma, featured Sensurround back then). The translated titles were “Galáctica: Astronave de Combate”, “Misión Galáctica: El Ataque Final” and “Conquista de la Tierra”, respectively.

    Of course, they weren’t shown simultaneously, in case you’re wondering… and Conquest of the Earth was shown after what I believe were several years. When I saw the poster by accident, I recognized the helmets immediately, and kept an eye for when they finally showed it. I think only two theaters did…

  10. June 17, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    I remember seeing Battlestar Galactica here in the UK on it’s release with a friend, who’s Mum just happened to work at the cinema so we got in for free !! Loved it on the big screen when I was a kid then went out and bought the Photonovel when it got released !!

  11. June 17, 2009 at 3:58 pm

    I watched these three again a couple of weeks ago on VHS. The Conquest of Earth was a straight to video release here in the UK.

    For years I had no idea there was even a series of Battlestar Galactica! We didn’t get it here until around 1985.

    There are some small additional scenes and alternative takes in Mission Galactica which aren’t in the aired episodes I believe. Conquest actually works well too, combining parts of the first episode of Galactica 80 with ‘Night the Cylons Landed’ (I think that was what it was called). Amusingly however, they changed the actor who played that genius boy Doctor Zee during these episodes so in the film version it is quite jarring to have a change of casting part way through! So they dubbed over some lines about how they are actually brothers!

    As my only experience of Battlestar Galactica for most of my childhood they hold a place in my heart.

  12. 12 Lord Link
    June 17, 2009 at 6:33 pm

    I’ve never actually seen the pilot episode. But the few bits of it I have seen were from a Baltar flashback later in the series. It looked (to me) much better than the actual series. I don’t know, maybe the FX budget was higher for the pilot. Is the pilot up on Hulu?? TO HULU BATMAN!!

  13. June 17, 2009 at 6:55 pm

    After the original BSG died, they actually edited a whole bunch of the one-parter episodes together in to feature-length episodes, and these were syndicated as TV movies in UHF stations through the late 70s/Early 80s. Some of these were rather cleverly chopped together. For instance, “Murder on the Rising Star” and “The Young Lords” became a movie (Starbuck runs away from the Galactica, which he merely thought about doing in “Rising star”, crashes on the “Young Lords” planet, has his adventures there, then returns to the Galactica to stand trial. Or “The Space Cassanova” was a combination of “The Long Patrol” and…uhm…”Mutiny in Space” as I recall. This required some body doubles and voice overs to explain some of the transitions, and some of these were remarkably cheezy.

    One of them – I forget which one – actually incorperated the Starbuck episode of Galactica 1980 in it, and also had some new naration from Patrick McNee, but that was the only one to have anything like ‘real’ new footage in it to tie it together.

    Talking about it, I kind of miss these old unwieldy bastardly things, they were sort of fun. I haven’t seen ’em in 30 years, probably.

  14. 14 tommyc
    June 17, 2009 at 8:51 pm


    The one weekend in June I’m not on the left coast! Ugh, Ugh, Ugh.

    Mojo, do you think you can post some pictures of the Apogee models?

    Waaaah, (that’s me crying).

  15. 15 darthmojo
    June 18, 2009 at 12:48 am

    Thanks for all the great comments, guys – it’s cool to hear the “international perspective” on Galactica.

  16. June 18, 2009 at 3:16 am

    Adrian Patrick said: “Conquest of Earth was a straight to video release here in the UK.”

    Adrian, here in the East Midlands “Conquest Of The Earth” was shown at the cinema.

    It was made up of “The Night the Cylons Landed”, bits of “Galactica Discovers Earth” parts 1 and 2 and believe it or not, “The Young Lords” from TOS. Yes, we see John Colicos once again!

    The different actors playing Dr Zee are, for the purposes of the film, now brothers – Dr Zee and Dr Zen.

  17. 17 The Thorn
    June 18, 2009 at 1:30 pm

    darthmojo, I picked up the ‘Conquest of Earth’ edit on VHS a few years ago and I can tell you right now: don’t get too excited. Honest to God, it’s pretty bad. In fact, if it’s an indication of what the series is like, I’d give it a miss and stick with the original (or, to be truthful, the redux)

    Here’s what some Amazon reviewers of that tape had to say:

    “For the most part, “Conquest” is not a great movie, but it’s much better than the entire series of Galactica 1980.”

    “At least the producers of this movie could have done better job of making it look like they put some effort into this cut-and-paste film, and it only adds insult to the numerous injuries inflicted on “Galactica 1980” by diehard “Battlestar Galactica” fans.”

    “I loved the original when it first started. When they finally reach earth its kind of cool. They got new flying bikes and stealth technology..I just wished the movie was edited better. But its one every collector must have….long live battlestar galactica………… ”

    I’ll be curious to find out what your feeling is once you’ve seen it :)

  18. 18 Spock
    June 18, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    Mission Galactica was released in the USA on video. It had a couple of shots that were different than what was shown on the episodes. They actually fixed the scene in Living Legend, the one where Cain reveals Sheba was his daughter. It is now in the correct order.

  19. 19 Peter von Frosta
    June 18, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    Mission Galactica is available on DVD in UK:

    You’ll need a region code free player though or the little red fox wizard tool ;)

    The Galactica 1980 movie seems to be available on VHS only.

  20. 20 Colonial Warrior
    June 19, 2009 at 3:02 am

    Seen all 3 of the movies, enjoyed them nonetheless. If you check out a genre related convention you could possibly find the Galactica 1980 on DVD. The episode with Starbuck stranded forever is still the best of that series bar none, ( though I do like the saucer ship it just looks cool. )

  21. June 19, 2009 at 5:07 am

    I remember seeing the BSG movie as a kid; it was a big night out, and my folks took me to the Empire in London’s Liecester Square. I still have the “programme” they gave out. But most of all I remember the seats vibrating…

  22. June 21, 2009 at 1:48 pm

    I’m sorry I missed this. I’ve seen the movies several times, but would have loved to have talked to the visual effects guys and see Muren’s home movies.

    At GALACTICA.TV we’re always trying to set up things like this too (we helped organize Galacticruise last year) and are ever searching and investigating in finding new stories (even now). There’s still so much cool stuff out there if only fans would share some more. Hey, I hear the big fans who have spend thousands of $ to obtain this material, but so have I. I’m sharing more and more on GALACTICA.TV if only to not make go lost (why keep all to yourself, die and your wife throwing it in the trash since she doesn’t see the significance, huh? ;)) and to keep the flame alive.

    I hope someone who attended this will write some nice report and will put up these home videos. I’d really love to see them (or publish them for all fans to see if I had them).

    Keep your eyes peeled for some cool new stuff on GALACTICA.TV soon again too. Again, many, many hours of investigating work (and another small fortune spend to obtain some stuff) …all done for the love and glory of this series (and its fans!)

  23. June 22, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    I was there – It was the first time I had seen the movie on a large screen.

    Dripping with cheese, but what fun. That day was my birthday and my wife came along too. Got to see two colleagues of mine too – Pat McClung and Doug Knapp – the camera operator on the show.

    The models were cool – I know all but one were reproductions, but cool to see anyway. The home movies were really a treat, and, for me, brought back memories of my days doing motion control miniatures.

  24. 25 Gep Malakai
    June 22, 2009 at 6:52 pm

    Cool beans. Hey, Mojo, are you going to be attending any of Bear’s BSG concerts at the House of Blues in San Diego in July?

  25. 26 Boris
    June 23, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    Could you write a review of the experience? I’m curious if I should track down the other two “movies”.

  26. 27 Gene Kozicki
    June 23, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    Just thought I would jump in here real quick since I met Mojo at the screening for the first time….

    First off, there are some photos of the display on the Resin Illuminati (where I posted a blow by blow account of the making of the Viper) – http://www.resinilluminati.com/showthread.php?t=6691&page=12

    Secondly, since I organized the event, I figure I may as well share some insight into the home movies issue (because the issue came up in a couple of other places as well). Dennis Muren (along with Doug Smith) shot those home movies more than 30 years ago, pretty much for fun. In fact a good portion of the movies consist of the crew clowning around and mugging for camera. I wound up editing it down from about 18min to 9min to keep the focus on the FX work.

    The problem with getting photos/home movies/etc from people is that they are personal items. It’s not like a costume or a script. This is stuff that they took a photo of (or a movie) for their own personal use. This gets around copyright issues fairly easily, but again, some of the guys think it’s creepy that we fans want to look through their photo albums. As for sharing, some are OK with it – they realize there is an interest in an art form that isn’t widely practiced any more. But others wonder if the other people in the photos – the crew members with a beer in their hand, or clowning around with each other, would be OK with those images being publicly displayed. Not all of the original series crew shares our enthusiasm for the show (boy, have I found that out…..).

    Whatever their motivation may be, when I solicit materials for one of these shows (and I’ve done about a dozen of them with other titles), I take the line that since they aren’t my toys, I don’t get to set the rules. So if someone says that I can go ahead and run a reel of footage at the Aero, but please don’t spread it around, I will honor that request. Which is the case of the BSG home movies we screened on Saturday. I specifically asked the crowd not to videotape them off the screen so I wouldn’t be in an uncomfortable position the next time I want to plan a neat event. As odd as it may seem, I’ve found that this open access (or worse – selling for profit) attitude in the past has led to closed doors in the present. I know there is some good material out there that no one has seen, but the “keeper” of said material has been ripped off, bothered, etc. so much in the past that he now doesn’t bother to share. Churlish? Yes. Disappointing? Certainly. But unfortunately a fact. And something I don’t particularly want to exacerbate.

    As for letting the stuff rot away – I totally agree that shouldn’t happen. Far too much valuable research material from films past have already been tossed aside. And, with the work that the VES and some other private collectors are doing, we are trying to see to it that what is out there is somehow cataloged so it can be used in the future. Unfortunately, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the info available on the internet. Like many things in life, it’s a balancing act.

    The upside to all this is that everyone who attended had a good time and it is likely there will be another Galactica VFX themed event soon that will give people another chance to come out and revel in their geek-dom. (Mojo certainly seemed to be in his element).



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June 2009

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