The Magic 7: Major Updates on the Unreleased Animated Film

A major breakthrough has been made with our research on the unreleased animated film The Magic 7.

the magic 7 concept artOriginal concept art by Ken Cope, 1991

Lost or unreleased media is such a captivating topic. Imagine a TV show, commercial or movie that you have seen before but suddenly as years go by that media has vanished without any trace of it. When it comes to lost media, we often do have bits and pieces of the lost content such as stills or clips. Previously, I explored lost media and came across the most fascinating lost film that I have ever come across. Mainly because I felt like the film had a good cause attached to it and that it was unfortunate that it never made it to the screens.

Here’s an excerpt from my first article on The Magic 7 to help those of you who really want to understand what we’re dealing with here.

The Magic 7 is an animated film written and directed by Roger Holzberg. Supposedly, the plot surrounded two children and a five-toed dragon that teamed up to battle the arch-enemies of planet Earth. The movie was clearly made for Earth Day and it was originally supposed to be released on April 22, 1997, but it was postponed several times. Google & IMDB are claiming that The Magic 7 was released on December 19, 2008, in France and 2009 in the United States, but this is unlikely. There’s no information or promotional media, such as trailers or posters, that exists where this film was released in France nor the United States. In fact, there is no media coverage at all about this film.

The production for this film began in 1990. That means that it has been a 28-year-long journey with this project. For it to not be released by now, let alone it’s original release date in 1997, is so unfortunate. With the outrageously small amount of information of this film that is available on the internet, I thought that this case was going to be a lost cause. There are some instances where the creator of something considered to be lost media purposely keeps their work from ever seeing the light of the internet due to numerous reasons. I thought this was going to be the case when I contacted the writer and director of The Magic 7, Roger Holzberg. Fortunately, this was not the case when I chatted with Holzberg via email. But more unfortunately, I learned the circumstances surrounding the film that Holzberg himself considers a “sad story” along with some new information regarding why the film has been unfinished. Here’s a little timeline of sorts:

  • Developed by Roger Holzberg (writer/director) and David Joseph (producer) in collaboration with the United Nations Environmental Protection Agency (UNEP).
  • M7 is purchased by a film company called Earth Saver’s CLub (ESC) who green lights and funds production.  The live action is filmed and edited, the voice artists are recorded (except 1).  The live action is edited, animation begins, the track is edited and conformed to the storyboards.  The animation company goes bankrupt after the executive at ESCadvances the entire budget to them.   ESC then files Chapter 11.
  • Several years later Roger Holzberg, John Kilkenny, and the original ESC investor, buy the rights and assets back from bankruptcy court in LA and legally acquire M7.
  • Pulse Entertainment options the project, acquires the assets, begins production and sales.  After several years Pulse never completes M7 and the rights and assets once again revert back to Holzberg/Kilkenny.
  • Holzberg/Kilkenny commission Technicolor to digitize and store all of the assets so they will remain stable and secure.
  • HOPE – M7 is an animated film, significantly complete, hoping for an entertainment or media company to partner with the team and finally complete it.

So it’s confirmed that The Magic 7 has not been finished nor released despite that being stated on IMDB and Google, but Roger Holzberg still has the HOPE that one day it will be completed and released in the future. This is what makes lost/unreleased media so delightful: this information you find a long the way and learning about the story behind it. With environmental issues seemingly getting worse as time goes on, I think this movie would still be relevant and something that the younger generation needs to see if released today. Holzberg also shared the original synopsis and cast of the film and even uploaded a video that contains sample video and audio tracks!

THE MAGIC 7 is a live action / animated, adventure about a boy and girl who get taken to the world of the Dreaded Deadlies.  Led by a dragon named 5-Toe, they must transform the Deadlies and solve the secret of THE MAGIC 7 in order to get home. 

CASTING:

LIVE ACTION  —

SEAN (Corey Danziger) – A twelve year old boy like any other twelve year old boy.  He lives for baseball, rock n’ roll … and his family.

SEAN’S DAD (Ted Danson) – Strong, supportive and very much into his antique convertible Corvette.

SEAN’S MOM (Dee Wallace) – A wise cracker who takes care of her guys as best she can.

ERICA (Jennifer Love Hewitt) – A twelve year old, very shy girl who has just moved in next door. Beautiful, caring … and a touch too sensitive for her own good.

ANIMATION  —

SEAN / ERICA – Stylized versions of the actors.

5 TOE (James Earl Jones) – A 5th order dragon who eats high sulfur coal and pays the price with severe indigestion. A wise teacher, a deeply caring guide with an earth rumbling voice; if his wings were only big enough to properly support him when he flies…

SMOKESTACK SAM (John Candy) – POLLUTION – Half car, half man… all Texan.  He lives for one thing only – cruising down an open stretch of highway, red-lined to the max.

MARCEL MAGGOT (Michael J. Fox) – NOT-RECYCLING – He is a 500 pound French Moroccan maggot.  He sees himself as a very romantic fellow.

U-Z-ONESA (Demi Moore) – NOT RE-USING – Marlena Deitrich with a Barbie Doll body made of plastic forks, a microwave oven, blue plastic hair and an aerosol can skirt.  She can’t sing a note … but doesn’t know it.

SCRATCH (Ice T.) – NOT RENEWING THE EARTH – A skeleton with fiery feet, leaving scorched earth wherever he steps.  Not much of a talker, he Raps like the ‘bad-ass mother earth destroyer’ he is.  He digs U-Z.

WASTRA (Madeline Kahn) – NOT CONSERVING – A small thermo-nuclear reactor, always running at a frantic, operatic tremble. She is a vampire of electrical power.

THRAXX (TBD) – NOT RESPECTING LIVING THINGS – A Tyrannosaurs Rex in an Armani suit, Gordon Gecko with claws. 

There you have it! I want to thank Roger Holzberg for responding and providing so much more insight on his film. I also want to wish him and the rest of the team behind The Magic 7 good luck for the future plans behind the film, whether they want to release it or not. This lost media journey has turned out to be a really fascinating one.

I would also like to dedicate this article to Madeline Kahn, voice of Wastra, who died in 1999 & John Candy, voice of Smokestack Sam, who died in 1994. The two also starred in many other great films. Rest in peace.

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The Animated Film That We May Never See: The Magic 7

Lost media can almost always lead to an interesting journey of discovery. Whether it’s a lost TV show, film, or commercial bumper, it’s fascinating to know when it was finally found and how that certain person found it. So, how does one find an animated film that’s been lost, unreleased, or possibly unfinished for 20 years? It sounds insane and impossible, but if you’ve never heard of the movie The Magic 7 then that would explain why.

The Magic 7 is an animated film written and directed by Roger Holzberg. Supposedly, the plot surrounded two children and a five-toed dragon that teamed up to battle the arch-enemies of planet Earth. The movie was clearly made for Earth Day and it was originally supposed to be released on April 22, 1997, but it was postponed several times. Google & IMDB are claiming that The Magic 7 was released on December 19, 2008, in France and 2009 in the United States, but this is unlikely. There’s no information or promotional media, such as trailers or posters, that exists where this film was released in France nor the United States. In fact, there is no media coverage at all about this film. All that has been discovered right now is the concept art of the characters and Michael J. Fox’s character “Marcel Maggot”, all created by Ken Cope in 1991:

the magic 7 concept art

the-magic-7-michael-j-fox-character-cartoon-buz (source: The Michael J. Fox Database)

It’s reported that production for this film started in 1990, but unfortunately two voice actors have died since then. John Candy, who was supposed to play a character named “Smokestack Sam” died in 1994, and Madeline Kahn also passed away in 1999, who had the role of “Wastra”. What is also unfortunate is that Candy & Kahn’s voices were taken out of the film completely. It is unknown at the moment why they were taken out, whether their characters were scrapped, or if they were replaced by other voice actors. Apparently, a company that goes by the name of Pulse Entertainment and Distribution bought the rights to the film, so it is possible that the characters were replaced by new voices. As well as John Candy and Madeline Kahn, this film had a star-studded cast:

Jason Aaron Baca as Zack
Kevin Bacon as Himself
John Candy as Smokestack Sam
Judy Collins as Herself
Cory Danziger as Sean
Michael J. Fox as Marcel Maggot
Jennifer Love Hewitt as Erica
Ice-T as Dr. Scratch
Jeremy Irons as Thraxx
James Earls Jones as 5-Toe
Madeline Kahn as Wastra
Bette Midler as Herself
Demi Moore as U-Z-Onesa
Olivia Newton-John as Herself
Meryl Streep as Herself
Dee Wallace Stone as Sean’s Mom
Henry Winkler as Himself

There is a lot to discover about this film. Be on the lookout for another article about The Magic 7 in the near future, because the hunt is not over yet. My bet is that if this film was finished, it’s just been shelved somewhere. There is definitely some fact-checking that needs to be done, due to the fact that nothing is confirmed or has a reliable source. Would the distribution company be willing to release this film at all in the future? Why has there been a false release date posted? Stay tuned!

The Mysterious Lost 1996 Pilot of Disney’s Recess

cartoon buzz disney's recess

Photo: The Walt Disney Company

It’s always interesting to explore the earlier work of a finished product. Disney’s Recess is an animated series that aired from 1997 to 2001 on ABC, UPN and Toon Disney. The series surrounded the adventurous lives of six fourth graders (fifth graders in Taking the Fifth Grade) and their anticipation for recess. But T.J., Spinelli, Vince, Gretchen, Mikey & Gus did not have just any ordinary recess period. Instead of the traditional free-for-all that most elementary school kids spend at recess, the kids at Third Street elementary were subjected to a more organized, society-like structure that came with rules, values & a sixth grader named Bob who was made to be the king that controlled the playground. Recess was a show we all loved from the first episode to the last, but like most shows, creators seem to stash away it’s original pitches.

We all remember the pilot that was actually aired in 1997 titled “The Break In” where the gang is destined to break T.J. out of his punishment of no recess with the help of some playground friends – but did you know there was a 1996 version of that very Recess pilot that has never never made it to TV and is deemed to be lost? There is no footage of the original pitch pilot anywhere, but a few scraps of the episode have made it to the internet. On August 4, 2011, YouTube user ‘ReptarOnIce’ uploaded a classic ABC Saturday Mornings sneak peek promo for 101 Dalmations & Recess that aired in March 1997. The sneak peek contained a preview of clips from the original pitched pilot, and there is some early character designs that we just have to take note of.

Why I love exploring the pilot episodes of series as well as lost media you ask? For starters you get to see how animators originally wanted the characters to look like. We all remember Gretchen for having auburn hair & a blue dress. But in this early design she has black hair & a polka dot dress. T.J. has dark red hair, different outfit & overall just a different facial structure and skin color than the T.J. Detweiler that we all knew and loved. The most different character designs were Vince and Spinelli’s when it came to their entire looks, which caught me completely off guard at first. Of course there is no original Gus as far as I know but one can only imagine what he would’ve looked like. Out of all of the main characters, Mikey didn’t look that much different from his final form. It’s so crazy to think that these original designs are what the animators first envisioned the characters to look like compared what they actually evolved to look like.

As for the full original pitched pilot episode, it still remains lost and we have no knowledge or whereabouts of it at this time. The 20th Anniversary of the premiere of Disney’s Recess is coming up at the end of this month, will Disney & the Recess creators release this original pitch as a gift for the fans? We will keep you updated!

Source(s) – http://lostmediawiki.com/Recess_’The_Break_In’_(lost_pilot_episode;_1996)