The 2000 feature-length family adventure fantasy film Thomas and the Magic Railroad was a half financial box office success, but a critical failure, with the prime reason being, among many others, the incoherent storyline that was in the final cut. However, some fans and critics shared appreciation towards the film and it was nominated two times for Mara Wilson's performances, and continues with it's merchandising. In 2007, an interview with Britt Allcroft on Sodor Island Forums revealed that the movie was cut up against her wishes during the production of it. Her interview revealed that the cuts were due to the unnecessary complaints by American test audiences. The cuts were less than minor: the original cut was about 110 minutes long, while the final movie was a mere 85 minutes.
Differences from Final Cut
A major character, 'Pete Tiberius Boomer' (short nickname as P.T. Boomer or Pete Boom), portrayed by Canadian actor Doug Lennox was originally portrayed as the main villain, but Boomer was deemed too frightening for younger children and therefore was entirely cut out from the film before its release. Because of P.T. Boomer's absence from the final film, the plot elements that had been driven by him went unexplained.
P.T. Boomer is described in the original cut of the script as being "a drifter through choice" and was intended to be Burnett Stone's adversary, the real culprit responsible for why Lady went too fast and crashed, instead of Diesel 10 as altered in the final theatrical version. Jealous of the relationship that Burnett had with Tasha (Lily's grandmother), Boomer bullied Burnett into allowing him to take Lady for a run and crashing her as a form of revenge. After the accident, Boomer fled Indian Valley and Burnett spent years trying to restore her but, to no success. He returns now a good forty years later a bitter and dark character, hell-bent on completing his revenge by finding and destroying Lady for good.
When audiences complained about him being "too scary" (a weird claim when the secondary villain is literally a Diesel with a giant mechanical claw) he was cut out at the last minute, explaining the laziness of the movie's final cut and Diesel 10 was rewritten as the main villain. This cut was so close to the release, that one of the previews even contained Boomer briefly, falling off the viaduct along with Diesel 10. Coloring books contained references to him by name as well.
Boomer was seen in the movie in the form of two cameos, part of his confrontation with Burnett is seen by a distance as Stacy and Lily arrive in their car. Audibly the scene is re-dubbed so that Burnett is giving directions to a lost biker. The biker clad in an overcoat presents a dark contrast and appears somewhat menacing. Boomer is also visible on the back of Diesel 10's cab during the chase scene toward the end (the original ending had Boomer land on the back of Diesel 10 through the magic buffers).
Because of the cuts, many key scenes that gave Britt Allcroft's original story substance and were filmed with Peter Fonda as Burnett Stone and Russell Means as Billy Twofeathers plus Cody McMains as Patch, were not in the released version because of the references to P.T. Boomer. The movie scenes with these cuts were either edited out or altered. In addition, the test audience made the response that Means' role was hard to understand, Britt Allcroft found this shocking as he hardly was, and he "spoke with the voice of his history".
Various theatrical and home media trailers of the movie had depicted characters with voices largely differing from their voices in the original cuts. During Production, it was widely publicized online that an Isle of Mann cab driver and Volunteer Firefighter named John Bellis was to be the voice of Thomas. Having only heard him utter a meager few words, Britt knew that John was the right man to voice Thomas himself, turning to tell her colleagues "I have just heard the voice of Thomas. The man is exactly how Thomas would sound!" A few days later, she offered John the role, and he accepted.
Despite being flown out to Toronto record all of Thomas' dialogue, American test audiences however thought Bellis' voice made Thomas sound too old and thus John Bellis was canned. Thomas' voice was performed in the final cut by Canadian voice actor Eddie Glenn. Bellis was apparently disappointed by this, and to the point where he refuses to really discuss the matter with fans who have contacted him to ask him about it.
The same trailers depicted Diesel 10 with a gruff English upper class accent, as opposed to the New Jersey accent he had in the theatrical release. Sodor Island Forums ended up digging up the information that Diesel 10 was originally voiced by Australian voice actor Keith Scott. But this voice was deemed too frightening by the American test audiences. Canadian actor Neil Crone was then brought in to do the voice of Diesel 10, where he gave him a Russian accent. This too would fall in the hands when the audiences made the wild claim that it would somehow be "offensive" and Crone revised his voice to a New Jersey accent.
Britt Allcroft revealed that the original voice intended for James and Percy was Michael Angelis, narrator for the UK series from 1991-2012. English actor Patrick Breen originally also provided the voices for Splatter and Dodge. Both of them were canned by the test audiences, with Angelis replaced for the same reason as Bellis. Susan Roman and Linda Ballantyne replaced Angelis as James and Percy respectively, whilst Neil Crone and Kevin Frank replaced Breen.
What was also revealed is that Lily, 20 years later, was originally meant to be the narrator, as opposed to Mr. Conductor (Alec Baldwin) in the final cut. The whole movie was meant to be told by an Adult Lily and Patch (played by Robert Tinkler) to their child, and Baldwin was likely put in as the narrator since he was narrating the US dub of the television series at the time. A scene toward the end shows the family in a panning shot of the Pennsylvania fields. The movie also contained several flashback scenes of Young Burnett (Jared Wall) and Tasha (Laura Bower) which ended up being cut due to some involving P.T. Boomer, such as the dance they have. The scenes are only audibly heard in the movie through Burnett's imagination.
Existing Deleted Scenes
The only scene from the original cut that was made available commercially was included on the DVD release as an extra. This scene, called "Sundae Surprise" was insignificant, showing Mr. Conductor Junior relaxing and deciding to take one more sip from his Sundae, only to be splashed by it through the giant straw.
In February 2009, a YouTube user by the name of Jord87 uploaded the original chase scene with P.T. Boomer as a dubbing project for the user's film class. However the scene was overdubbed with overbearing music from the 1998 movie Dark City as part of this dubbing project. Despite both reasonable and admittedly annoying requests from fans to upload the unedited scene, the user only responded with immature and mocking insults toward them.
The scene depicted showed Boomer being flung from the magic buffers and landing directly onto back of Diesel 10's cab, where he joins the pursuit of Lady and Burnett, and ends up falling off the viaduct with Diesel 10. The scene is slapped with a time code and a watermark stating "Property of Destination No. Unauthorized Duplication".
The scene's leak online is explained by the fact that a teacher at the Harris Institute in Toronto, Canada had worked on the movie, though only has access to the scene in question for educational purposes. He was tracked down by a forum user on Sodor Island Forums and got information that he was considering (as of March 2012) uploading the unaltered scene somewhere online. This has not happened however, but given that he is a teacher and has more important things to do, it's understandable he forget.
In 2013, another scene was discovered from a BBC AP Archive article from August 1999 featuring raw unused footage of a scene including P.T. Boomer (Doug Lennox). This scene in question is described in the scripts as P.T. Boomer checking through a pile of 'Shining Times' newspapers. He stops at one - scribbled in the top corner are the words 'Burnett Stone - Muffle Mountain'. Boomer gives a satisfied smile as a young boy collects the pile of newspapers and cycles away.
The film reel lies with the company archives of Sony Pictures. Several petitions have been made urging Destination Films/Sony Films to release the workprint of the movie, all in jest. Britt Allcroft does what's in her power consistently to release what she can, were a workprint release possible, she would try to get it released. Part of the reason the workprint can't be released is that it contains a temporary track, meaning music from other productions that are used to set the tone for composer reference. Even so, Thomas and the Magic Railroad was a box office bomb, and if one were possible, it is unlikely it would get released anyhow soon.
Update: On July 21, 2014, new clips surfaced from a vine user from Japan uploading what sounds like an original trailer made for the movie before Boomer was cut. These were low quality recordings taken in front of the TV screen, and the trailer had Japanese subtitles imposed over the video. This showed three scenes with Boomer present. One of Boomer sitting on the mountainside while seemingly stating "I'll get my revenge, you and that engine!" (The audio lacks clarity), one of him carrying explosives and one of the explosion he set off that sends Thomas off the mountainside.
A deleted scene of Burnett building a birdhouse can be found on "The Making of Thomas and the Magic Railroad" from the German DVD release.
On August 4, 2014, a higher quality version was uploaded by the Thomas archive channel TTTEArchives. The trailer was discovered to have been sourced from a Japanese Doraemon VHS. The trailer is in full English, but with Japanese subtitles.
Update (November 29, 2015) On November 28, 2015, P.T. Boomer's actor Doug Lennox is passed away at the age of 77. In his memory, the original chase scene was uploaded to YouTube with the clear audio, and without the Dark City music.
The original was passed out to various people by a SiF user in June 2015, though with the intention of keeping it private in cooperation with the wishes of the Professor mentioned above. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) it was leaked out by one of those people it was passed to.
With the clear audio, it is revealed that the temporary music for the score was music from the soundtracks of Stuart Little, composed by Alan Silvestri and Toy Story 2, composed by Randy Newman.
Update (January 5, 2016):
In Facebook, Restore the Magic has posted a photo from a user who got the early rough cut of the film where it shows the scrapbook with the hand of Adult Lilly Stone (which the video is started in 16 seconds) in the beginning from the film, which a message from Shout Factory explains the director's cut.
"To whom this may concern
Hi, I'm writing to you regarding the movie, Thomas and the Magic Railroad. I am in the understanding that there is an unreleased director's cut of Thomas and the Magic Railroad, which is Thomas the Tank Engine's first movie as well as a Sony Pictures-owned title. I am hereby asking you to look into its release.
You see, when Thomas and the Magic Railroad was released in the year 2000, it suffered both critical and commercial failure. Due to many plot holes noticed by film critics, the writer and director of the movie as well as Thomas TV founder, Britt Allcroft, has been unjustly blamed for the failure. Several changes were made at the last minute at the studio’s request against Britt’s wishes, such as the removal of the main antagonist, P.T. Boomer, and the recasting of the original voice talent for the engines. In fact, most, if not all, of the changes requested resulted in the plot holes the critics noticed.
It's my understanding that the Director's Cut was saved by Britt and her editor, and is likely stored, if anywhere, in Sony Pictures Archival Vaults. I also understand that the movie’s director’s cut was completed with a temp track. However, Sodor Island’s interview with Nelson Ferreira, ADR and Supervising Sound Editor of the movie, revealed he has access to the original sound elements of the director's cut that can only be restored with the studio’s authorization. I believe that these original sound elements and the movie’s final score could be used for the director’s cut’s release. Britt Allcroft loved her original story very much, and she, along with many other Thomas fans like myself, would love to see a way her intended movie could be released!
Could you please consider releasing the director’s cut of Thomas and the Magic Railroad? Please write back. Thank you for your time and answer!
Sincerely, Denis Molloy"
Thanks, - Restore the Magic, Cpend7 and Robowil.
Update (February 19, 2016):
Wasn't there ever an SiF interview made with the movie's composer Hummie Mann? The only thing I would like to know from him is if he would like it if he were asked to do a new score treatment for Thomas And The Magic Railroad. This cue you're listening wasn't used for the film but made it's way to the behind the scenes footage of the film's German DVD release. I heard he was present at one of the test screenings so maybe afterwards It might be possible he may have written and recorded other cues but were deleted.
Update (February 22, 2016):
Jake Vogler (the partner of Restore the Magic) got a reply on Facebook to the company of Thomas & Friends (the creators of the film) where they said: "We'll let the team know that you're keen to see the directors cut!". 
Thanks, - Restore the Magic, Jake Vogler and Cpend7.
Update (September 28, 2016):
In Facebook, user Curtis Parish has sent the message to Sam Wilkinson (Railway Consultant for the TV series since Season 17) which a day later when he got a reply from Sam as he said:
"Hi Curtis, Thanks for you message. At present there is only the released version of Thomas & The Magic Railroad which is available in most countries on DVD and some on Blu-ray. It's not possible to just release any content on both platforms in every country in the world, but where practical and possible, content is made available to as many countries as possible. I'm aware of the various campaigns for a Directors Cut of the film and admire the fans dedications to see the Britt's original vision of the film. There is a project ongoing for this, but it is not an easy task to achieve, with the time, knowledge and resources currently available. As, if and when any more information comes to light about the Director's cut, will make sure fans are the first to know. All I can say for now is, keep up the support and encourage as many of your friends and fellow fans to support the campaigns. Kind Regards Sam"
Update (June 4, 2017):
Hummie Mann (composer of this film) has released the full Neil Donell theme of "Shining Time" as founded on SoundCloud and YouTube.
Update (May 2020)
In May 2020, a user by the name of "TATMR DC Leaker" uploaded a full draft of the uncut workprint. This was the workprint announced to have been found in 2016 (see the above update), and it was given to a documentary crew by Mattel for research purposes only. The crew members signed a non-disclosure agreement in order to get the workprint, but a crew member still leaked it out to a friend they thought could be trusted. From there, the workprint leak spread more widely from December 2019 onward until it was leaked to the public by the aforementioned user.
Although it plays the original story, the audio mixing is very rough and lacks music. Most of the dialogue on Adult Lily's narration, Thomas and the other engines are placeholder recordings done by Britt Allcroft. As for human characters like Lily, Burnett Stone, Patch, Stacy, Billy Twofeathers and P.T. Boomer, they still have their original voices (with the exception of some placeholder lines done by Britt in some scenes). As for the visuals, scenes that use chroma-keying looked rough, and some of the special effects weren't even finished yet.
When fans found out about the leaked cut, most were not happy and wanted all traces of it taken down. Many were already familiar with the story behind the leak, while others were merely fearing legal threats from Sony. A couple days later, Britt Allcroft responded to the leaked footage problem on her Facebook page. Britt was extremely disappointed that the footage got leaked, because no one got permission to upload it. She claimed that this action was very harmful to her and the people behind the movie, and has asked the user to take it down. Days later, the draft footage was removed by the user and has since changed his profile and deleted all of his videos. Despite the footage being taken down however, some people may have downloaded it and clips of it are still on the internet.
Update (August 14, 2020):
Shout Factory has released a Trailer for the Blu-ray and revealed that the director's cut will be released on the Blu-Ray in the "deleted scenes" section.
Update (September 26, 2020):
The deleted storylines from the director's cut were uploaded onto the Internet, which will be included on the Blu-ray version of Thomas and the Magic Railroad in the "deleted scenes" section. This includes scenes with P.T. Boomer never seen from the final version and the leaked workprint.
- SiF's Magic Railroad Revealed page
- Thomas & the Magic Railroad - PT Boomer Chase Scene
- Thomas and the Magic Railroad - Wikipedia
- Britt Allcroft email correspondence from 2007. Retrieved 11 Aug '13.
- Online investigation into the film's mysterious history. Retrieved 11 Aug '13.
- 2012 Facebook post by Britt Allcroft on the passing of Russell Means. Retrieved 11 Aug '13.
- Online investigation into the film's mysterious history. Retrieved 11 Aug '13.
- A 1999 production clip, featuring the filming of a P.T. Boomer scene. Retrieved 11 Aug '13.
- Jake Vogler - Facebook
- Curtis Parish - Facebook
- Shining Time (Neil Donell) by Hummie Mann - SoundCloud