Lost Opportunities: The Larson/Moyer Project

The Glen Larson / Todd Moyer Galactica project was one of several failed attempts to bring back Galactica in the past ten years. In 1994 at the 15-year Reunion in Los Angeles, Glen Larson announced that “the Fox television network would like to bring Galactica back… There is a good chance we will be doing… something like a four-hour movie that will re-examine the whole saga of Galactica and its past, present, future.” The project ultimately fizzled, with some blaming the downfall on the project due to the low turnout.

Over the next few years there was little news on the Galactica revival front. But in 1999, two stories dominated the landscape – the completion of Richard Hatch’s “Second Coming” trailer, and Glen Larson and Todd Moyer’s IMAX project. In a published interview in SciFi Magazine in January, Glen Larson stated that “the rights for Galactica as a movie just reverted to my company. We’ve talked about it as a series, but it is still in the talk stage… There’s nothing tangible at this moment but I wouldn’t preclude it coming back, first as a big movie, and then out of that could be born a new TV show.”

On March 10, Variety published an announcement of a new Galactica movie, to be produced by Todd Moyer (producer of Wing Commander) and Glen Larson, with Mike Finch handling the screenplay. The independent feature was slated to be shot in Luxembourg and budgeted for $40 million. Said Moyer: “I’m very excited to be working with Glen Larson… Battlestar Galactica has an illustrious history, a huge fan base and enormous potential to be a successful motion picture.” Visual F/X on the movie were to be done by Moyer’s No Prisoners 3DFX, including visual effects supervisor Chris Brown, Erik Strauss, and other Wing Commander veterans. Twelve of the 19 personnel were formerly associated with the defunct Boss Film Corporation of Richard Edlund.

According to Variety, the plot of the movie starts where the original series left off, aboard the Pegasus. Commander Cain’s mission is to find the lost Battlestar Galactica, and the tribe of humans he thinks may have reached earth during pre-historic times aboard the Atlantis. A Galactica revival without the Galactica? Todd Moyer expanded on the synopsis in an interview in March at Ain’t-it-Cool-News. “Some people seem to be thinking that the plot synopsis suggests the movie will only about Cain looking for Galactica. That is not the case at all. The Galactica will be in this movie, and will be an important component in the film.” Moyer commented on how space battles were going to be done in three dimensions, something he said was not done in Star Wars or the original Battlestar movie.

Larson clarified his legal situation in a response to Richard Hatch’s March newsletter. “Glen Larson has ‘separation of rights’ under the Writer’s Guild agreement. In simple terms, this means that Universal Studios owns the television rights to Battlestar, and Glen Larson is the sole and exclusive owner of any and all feature film rights to the Battlestar franchise. Glen Larson and Todd Moyer have formed a joint venture to exploit these rights. In his June newsletter, Hatch wrote that Moyer had actually met with Richard Hatch in December 1998 to discuss a Galactica revival, but never returned any phone calls after the initial meeting. That was the last Hatch heard of Moyer until the Variety announcement, which he described as a “paid advertisement”. Hatch had since went ahead to finance his own Galactica trailer which he had shown to fans on the convention circuit.

Moyer made a followup interview at IGN Scifi in August where he described his pursuit of Galactica and how his getting to the bottom of the rights issue led him to original producer Glen Larson. The budget had grown to be $45 to $50 million, with about $15 to $17 million dedicated to F/X alone and a new shooting location in Babelsberg, Germany. He again reiterated a desire to do 3-D space battles and promised the film would have 500 shots. As a result of this interview, the project came to be known as the IMAX or Walking Vipers project, because the film was intended to be shown in the IMAX format, and featured Vipers which can go into “walker mode” such as the computer game MechWarrior.

In an interview in December on the Sci-Fi Wire, Larson said that “the motion picture rights reverted to me, and [Universal’s] not interested in going back to television at this point.” In Starlog that month, he stated that he had a script for a two-hour movie and may re-examine IMAX because their films tend to run no longer than 50 minutes. Lloyd Bridges was intend to have a guest role as Commander Cain. According to Larson, would be integral to any Galactica storyline. “We’ve played with the Pegasus as an element for this movie. It would give us a device to update audiences on what happened and it could be done in a love, visually exciting way. But, at this point, I don’t know if we would take the time to do something like that. I do know that it would NOT be our intention to stay with the Pegasus for the rest of the picture.

News went into a black hole, until August 2000, when news of the Larson/Moyer trailer resurfaced as reported in Dark Horizons. “Stu Phillips original score is kind of done-up David Arnold style and then it cuts to text of the original logo with the Cylon red-eye continuously crossing the logo. Then it says ‘Launching Christmas of 2000.” According to Jon Caroll who had seen it, “it’s about 30 seconds long, all CG, with some shots of Egyptian-looking architecture, a Battlestar rising over it, some Vipers fly past… and then a close shot of a CG Cylon with the tracking red eye… Moyer’s group made it over a year ago, and most of the people that animated it at Moyer’s facility are long since gone.”

In late December, rumors of a Galactica revival without Richard Hatch or Glen Larson surfaced. That was followed by the February 2001 Bryan Singer/Tom Desanto announcement. That project was grounded not long after 9/11 and the departure of Bryan Singer. That paved way for the Ron Moore/David Eick remake that was announced April 2002 leading to the December 2003 4-hour miniseries. As of late 2003, Glen Larson still holds theatrical rights to do a Galactica movie, and there is hope within fandom that he will partner with Tom Desanto and use the original cast.

–  written by John Larocque