For other uses, see Thomas and the Magic Railroad (disambiguation).

“Little engines can do big things!”
―Thomas

Thomas and the Magic Railroad is a 2000 British-American Fantasy Adventure film based on the television show Thomas & Friends and its American spin-off Shining Time Station. It was produced by Gullane Entertainment, The Britt Allcroft Company, Isle of Man Film Commission and Destination Films and was distributed by Icon Productions in the UK and Ireland and Destination Films in the US.

Plot

Mr. Conductor begins the film introducing Thomas The Tank Engine, his engine friends and the Island of Sodor.

At Killaban, Gordon complains to Thomas that he is eight seconds late with his passenger local. Thomas retorts that Gordon is being bossy, because he wants to be really reliable and right on time and says that he has to find Mr. Conductor, who is looking after the North Western Railway while Sir Topham Hatt is taking a holiday. When Gordon claims Mr. Conductor is not needed, he then changes his mind when an evil diesel named Diesel 10 speeds by, kicking up dust and dirt and leaving Gordon physically rattling in fear. Thomas reminds him how devious Diesel 10 is and how he is 10 out of 10 for devious deeds and brutal strength.

Mr. Conductor then introduces the town of Shining Time, where we see happy residents, full of life at the station.

Thomas is later talking to James at Tidmouth Sheds, after Thomas accidentally bumps into some buffers and James being shut up in the sheds by Sir Topham Hatt for being naughty, when Diesel 10 shows up and voices his plan to destroy a lost engine named Lady and thus establish Diesels as the dominant engines on Sodor. While James is confused, Thomas is worried and goes to find Mr. Conductor.

After seeing Billy Twofeathers' map and noticing some strange lines on it, a boy from Shining Time named Patch heads off to Muffle Mountain to see Burnett Stone once the Rainbow Sun arrives.

There is something on Muffle Mountain, a secret that Burnett only shared with his childhood friend and future wife Tasha: he promised he would drive an engine and take her with him. When Patch sees the engine, Burnett reveals the engine's past - her name is Lady since she was sealed inside Muffle Mountain since Diesel 10 crashed and nearly destroyed her long ago. Burnett has fixed her up, but informs Patch that she still needs coal to fully run again. Unfortunately, Lady requires special coal to build up steam, which he has not found yet.

At Diesel 10's mountain, Diesel 10 tells his cronies Splatter and Dodge of his plan to get rid of the lost engine. The two bumbling diesels report that Mr. Conductor is coming to Sodor, so Diesel 10 decides to destroy him too, only to humiliate himself in front of Splatter and Dodge when his claw whacks him on the nose.

Sparkle, sparkle, sparkle!

Mr. Conductor prepares to leave Shining Time. Despite difficulty with his gold dust and a little chat with Stacy about Burnett's pass, he soon meets Thomas on Sodor. Thomas reports on Diesel 10; Mr. Conductor decides to use his gold dust to keep Diesel 10 in order.

Burnett looks at a painting of Lady and starts to have doubts in his belief of magic due to his failure to guard her. Meanwhile, far away, Burnett's granddaughter, Lily, prepares to visit him.

Thomas, James and Gordon begin arguing about who should have taken Mr. Conductor and Gordon boasts that Thomas is too small to do important jobs, unaware that Splatter and Dodge are shunting trucks nearby. Over in the yard, Splatter and Dodge are spying at the steam engines. Henry tells the other engines about why Diesel 10 wants to find the lost engine, Percy and James decide to find her before Diesel 10 does. Splatter and Dodge continue to laugh at Thomas until Harold flies by, spreading sneezing powder, dumped by Diesel 10, over all three engines.

At Knapford, Mr. Conductor reads the note Sir Topham Hatt left him. After trying on his top hat and returning it after he notices the portrait of the Controller appears angry, then smiling, he receives a phone call from Sir Topham Hatt and receives his instructions.

That night, Mr. Conductor and the engines are asleep at Tidmouth Sheds when Diesel 10 rolls up and demolishes the side of the sheds with his powerful claw. Mr. Conductor reprimands Diesel 10, but then finally discovers that he has run out of gold dust. As Diesel 10, delighted, tries to get Mr. Conductor to confess to the lost engine's whereabouts otherwise he will destroy the shed even more, but Mr. Conductor frightens Diesel 10 away with a bag of sugar and threatening to dump the sugar in his fuel tanks to seize him up permanently. Mr. Conductor voices his concern about his gold dust, but tells the engines to go back to sleep, despite their concerns.

Later that night, Mr. Conductor has a nightmare of Shining Time in ruins and realises that his universe is in danger and that he needs more gold dust, Percy overhears this.

The next morning, Mutt goes to Lily's hometown with Billy, as he knows that Lily can help Mr. Conductor, but only if she meets someone special at Shining Time first. To reach that end, he directs her onto the wrong train, placing her on the train bound for Shining Time instead of the train to Muffle Mountain. Meanwhile, Burnett Stone hears the sound of Lady's magic echoing through the mountain.

Back on Sodor, Mr. Conductor is helping make James' itch go away. When James notices that Mr. Conductor looks so tired and asks if it is because he is red and Diesel 10 says red is very tiring, Mr. Conductor happily says that red is bright and cheerful just like his gold dust. He then sends James off to work while he departs to deal with his own problems.

Mr. Conductor goes to the windmill in search of more gold dust, but gets lost. Meanwhile, the engines gather for a meeting. As Bertie passes by and tells them to smile, all have their individual concerns about Diesel 10 destroying Lady. Thomas heads off to look for Mr. Conductor to help him. Bertie offers a race with Thomas, but Thomas apologises to him when he is unable to accept Bertie's offer for a race and decides to help Mr. Conductor solve some mysteries.

Mr. Conductor finds a note left by Rabbit and tries a carrot and a stick of celery to make him think properly and has the idea of his beach-loving cousin Junior, who has used up most of his gold dust too. He tells Junior to go to Shining Time Station first and get his emergency whistle, then go to Sodor and warns him not to talk to anyone about the buffers. Before he can say anything else, the phone line goes dead.

The Rainbow Sun arrives at Shining Time and Mutt barks at Lily to get off the train. Lily finds the station empty and meets Junior. After a talk, Lily picks up the gold dust Junior leaves behind. At Sodor, Mr. Conductor is sleeping by a bush when he has another nightmare and wakes up hearing Thomas calling his name. While Mr. Conductor tries to reply, poor Thomas cannot hear him as he chuffs away.

Lily meets Stacy, who takes her to Burnett who is talking to a biker. That night, Burnett and Lily hear Lady's whistle coming from the mountains. Patch, who is outside with his horse, hears it too.

As Percy arrives at Knapford with the Mail Train, he and Thomas talk about Mr. Conductor and conclude that he travels to Sodor on a magic railroad by a set of magic buffers. Diesel 10 overhears them and goes to the Sodor Ironworks to tell Splatter and Dodge his plan. Toby, who has secretly followed them there, hears their plans when the diesels arrive and interrupts them by ringing his bell. Trying to smash him, Diesel 10's claw causes the shed to crash down on him, Splatter and Dodge, thus blocking their path.

The next day, with the diesels trapped, the steam engines work very hard on their branch lines, delivering goods and passengers to every station and yards, as repairs continue.

Thomas finds Henry with a bad cold and offers to get some special Island of Sodor coal to make him better, but while collecting them, fails to notice the sixth truck rolling away into some magic buffers. Bertie passes and greets Thomas and his five trucks; Thomas is confused.

When Thomas tells Percy about the missing truck, they realise that the buffers where the truck disappeared are the buffers leading to the Magic Railroad. Thomas tells Percy to guard the buffers while he goes to find Mr. Conductor, citing that Percy is a brave engine.

Meanwhile, Mr. Conductor is wandering aimlessly when Diesel 10 appears. Mr. Conductor is captured by Diesel 10's claw and is dangled over the viaduct. Diesel 10 reveals that he knows about the buffers and threatens to drop Mr. Conductor if he does not reveal its whereabouts. Mr. Conductor notices the viaduct has begun to collapse, just like in his dream and realises the world is beginning to fall apart without the gold dust. Mr. Conductor escapes by cutting a hydraulic tube to Diesel 10's claw, thus catapulting him to the windmill. There, he sees the words: "Stoke up the magic in the mountain and the Lady will smile, then watch the swirls that spin so well." Splatter and Dodge ask Diesel 10 how come he let Mr. Conductor escape, he replies that he just did it on purpose and was testing to see if he could escape. Splatter and Dodge mock him and Diesel 10 angrily decides to attempt to teach them "how to stop being stupid," but knocks coal all over himself. James, Gordon and Henry laugh at Diesel 10.

Lily is introduced to Patch, who offers her a horse ride to Shining Time. There she meets Junior again, who offers to take her to Sodor via the magic buffers. They meet Thomas, Annie and Clarabel, who agrees to help and uncoupling the coaches, together they find Mr. Conductor at the windmill. When Mr. Conductor tells Junior about his clue to the gold dust, Lily is introduced to Mr. Conductor. Junior accidentally climbs onto the sail and is flung onto Diesel 10. Meanwhile Patch tells Burnett that he has no idea where Lily is and that she was not at the station when he went back for her. Despite Lily having apparently vanished, Burnett is confident she will turn up again.

That night, Percy finds Splatter and Dodge at the magic buffers. Splatter suggests telling Diesel 10 about the buffers tomorrow and Percy races to warn Thomas.

Mr. Conductor and Lily camp out with Thomas. After a conversation, they realise that Burnett may hold the key to the clue of the gold dust.

As Burnett reveals to Patch that Lady is magic, they realise that the railroad is vanishing.

Thomas and Percy decide they must get Lily back to Muffle Mountain before Diesel 10 destroys the magic railroad. Thomas wonders how Lily can get home without gold dust, Mr. Conductor reveals that only the lost engine could do so now. Then he has the idea and asks Thomas if he will take Lily to Muffle Mountain. Thomas is not sure but decides that he will try before he and Lily set off. Guided by a tumbleweed, the two roll right through the magic buffers. While journeying through the magic railroad, they discover the missing truck. While Lily realises the connection between the truck, the clue so Thomas decides to go back for it before setting off again. They soon arrive on Muffle Mountain with the coal truck behind them. As Lily leaves to find Burnett, a gust of wind blows Thomas down the hill, away from the coal truck and back into the magic railroad through another portal at the bottom.

Thomas racing down Muffle Mountain

Lily finds Patch, who takes her to Burnett's workshop. Lily figures out only special Island of Sodor coal can make Lady steam, so she sends Patch to collect the coal from the truck.

Diesel 10, with Junior still on his cab, races into the Smelters where he corners James who is working there. Junior tries to whistle both of them out, only to discover that he too, is out of gold dust. As Diesel 10 pushes the two into a melting pit, Junior uses the last of his extra gold dust to teleport himself and James away to safety. The two arrive near the buffers, where Mr. Conductor is there waiting. James happily departs, while Mr. Conductor and Junior, both out of gold dust, refuse to give up hope. Lily asks Burnett Stone if Tasha took a ride on Lady and if she loved her as much as Burnett did. Burnett says that she loved it because he loved it, but could not fix her in time for Tasha to take a ride on her before she passed away.

By now Burnett Stone has finally got Lady to steam using special Island of Sodor coal, from the truck Thomas and Lily picked up from the Magic Railroad and along with Lily, Patch and Mutt, they set off into the magic railroad. The magic railroad, receiving energy from Lady, comes back to life, while Lady's face appears. The team encounter Thomas before appearing on Sodor, through the buffers, where they reunite with the two conductors. Junior happily states they can go to Shining Time, but Mr. Conductor fears that without gold dust, they will not make it back to Shining Time.

Before the team can find the rest of the clue, they are found by Diesel 10, Splatter and Dodge. Diesel 10 starts to close in on the two engines, with his claw raised up and orders his cronies to destroy Lady, but Splatter and Dodge, fed up with Diesel 10's ways, betray him. Thomas offers to help Lady, with Burnett driving Lady. Mr. Conductor warns them about the collapsing viaduct. Just as the engines run away from the large diesel, the conductors realise that Lady is part of the clue to the gold dust.

TIN KETTLE!!!

Diesel 10 chases the fleeing magic engine, Thomas and Burnett throughout the Kirk Ronan sites, until they approach the Viaduct. As Lady and Burnett pass, a gap appears on the viaduct. When Thomas manages to make it across the gap in time before it worsens whistling cheerfully, Diesel 10 brakes hard, but falls off into a sludge barge and is towed away.

Thomas, Lady and Burnett return, where they and the rest of the team work out the answer to the riddle. Lily mixes water from the well with golden shavings from the magic railroad and with a little encouragement, tosses them into the air, where they form into gold dust. Delighted, the conductors re-supply their whistles, while Thomas and Lady thank each other.

Patch and Mutt go to look around, while Junior gives Lily some gold dust. Junior tells Mr. Conductor that he wants to work now, so Mr. Conductor gives him his hat and sends him to a railroad with "palm trees and sunny spells." After Junior leaves, Sir Topham Hatt calls and says that he is on his way back, so Mr. Conductor sets off to welcome him, letting Sir Topham Hatt know that everything is under control before he hangs up. Lily offers her gold dust to Burnett, who sprinkles it on her bluebird toy and whispers that they will "always remember their Shining Time together."

With Lady and the Magic Railroad back to life, Shining Time is restored to its former glory. Thomas happily puffs home to Tidmouth Sheds into the sunset and the end credits roll.

Characters

Characters Introduced

Locations

Cast

Voice actors

Live-action actors

Original voice actors

Songs

Production

Development

In the early 1990s, Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends was at the height of its popularity following three successful series. At the same time, its live-action American spin-off Shining Time Station was also successful. As early as 1994, prior to the launch of the fourth series, Britt Allcroft had plans to make a feature film based on both of these shows and would make use of the model trains from Thomas and the live-action aesthetic of Shining Time Station.

In February 1996, Allcroft was approached by Barry London, then vice-chairman of Paramount Pictures, with an idea for a Thomas film. Allcroft signed a contract to write the script for the film with the working title of Thomas and the Magic Railroad. According to a press release, filming was due to take place at Shepperton Studios in the United Kingdom and the United States, with the theatrical release set to 1997. However, Paramount shelved the plans for the film after London left the company. This led Allcroft to seek other sources of funding. Discussions about the film were held with PolyGram, which did not did not go on any further as the company was in the middle of a corporate restructuring and sale.

In the summer of 1998, during the launch of the fifth series, Allcroft saw an Isle of Man Commission advert offering tax incentives to companies who wanted to film on the Island. Allcroft visited the Island a few weeks later and decided the location was perfect for the film. In 1999, Barry London became Chairman of the newly-founded Destination Films (owned by Sony Pictures) and renewed his interest in the project, leading to Destination Films becoming the main financial backer and studio for the film.

During production, Thomas and Percy received brand new models of them built. This was because their original Märklin chassis were very worn at the time and their original perspex models had been repaired and repainted so many times that the crew were afraid some of these imperfections would be seen on the big screen and the models needed to be in top condition for intense use during filming. The new models were made out of brass and painted in matte finishes. They were equipped with CNC machined aluminium chassis powered by DC motors and the bufferbeam details were built from scratch.

Filming

Principal photography began on 2nd August 1999 and wrapped on 15th October 1999. Filming took place at the Strasburg Rail Road in Strasburg, Pennsylvania, United States, as well as in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and on the Isle of Man. The Castletown railway station on the Isle of Man Railway formed part of Shining Time Station and the goods shed at Port St. Mary railway station became Burnett Stone's workshop. The large passenger station where Lily boards the train is the Harrisburg Transportation Center. Strasburg Rail Road's (ex Norfolk & Western) 4-8-0 475 was repainted as the Rainbow Sun.

Sodor was realised using models and chroma key. The models were animated using live-action remote control, as on the television series. The model sequences were shot in Toronto instead of Shepperton Studios, the "home" of the original show; however, several of the show's key staff were flown over to participate. The Magic Railroad was created using models, CGI and water-coloured matte paintings.

Problems and Changes

In a 2007 interview, Britt Allcroft commented that the finished film was drastically different from the version she had written, with several scenes, plot elements and characters being cut from the final film.

One of the biggest changes to the film was the removal of P.T. Boomer, the film's original main antagonist. He was cut after test audiences found him to be too frightening for children. Despite his excision, Boomer still appears in a few unedited moments of the final film and even appears in one of the trailers, which shows him and Diesel 10 falling off the viaduct. The official Thomas and the Magic Railroad website also had images and information regarding his character prior to being cut. Parts of his character, such as his goal to find Lady, were rewritten for Diesel 10.

Several character voices were also changed during production. Thomas was originally voiced by John Bellis, a fireman and part-time taxi driver who worked on the film as the Isle of Man transportation co-ordinator and facilities manager. Bellis received the role after he happened to pick up Allcroft and her crew from the airport; Allcroft believed his voice suited Thomas perfectly and so he was flown to Toronto to record his lines. Test audiences in Los Angeles disliked Bellis' voice for Thomas, believing his Liverpudlian accent made Thomas sound "too old." Bellis was replaced by Eddie Glen, who gave Thomas a more youthful voice. James and Percy were originally going to be voiced by Michael Angelis, then-narrator of the television show. Test audiences also considered his voice to be too old for the characters and so he was replaced by Susan Roman and Linda Ballantyne who gave the two a more youthful, but ladyish accent. Patrick Breen originally voiced Splatter and Dodge, but he was also replaced for unknown reasons, to be replaced by Neil Crone and Kevin Frank.

Diesel 10 was originally voiced by Keith Scott, but his voice was later changed; Scott believes that he was replaced due to his voice sounding too scary to younger children. He was replaced by Neil Crone, who gave Diesel 10 a Russian accent. Due to complaints by test audiences, who believed the voice could be considered offensive, Crone gave Diesel 10 a stylised New Jersey accent. He and Kevin Frank both improvised a lot of comedy in the film.

During filming of the confrontation scene at the smelters yard, James' model fell off the set and was significantly damaged. Even after repairs were completed, cracks could still be seen in his cab and other areas, even during the final cut.

Original Script

All of these changes were featured in the original script of the film. They were cut out in either later scripts or the final release:[1]

  • The Island Song and Thomas' Anthem were going to be used in the film during the opening musical sequence. Additionally, Night Train was originally going to be used in the scene of Thomas and Percy pulling their mail trains.
  • Lily was the narrator, telling the story to her children twenty years later. In the future, she became a railroad engineer like Burnett and married Patch. She also had a pet dog named Jeff, who was a descendant of Mutt.
  • Lily's mother was pregnant, which is why Lily goes to visit her grandfather.
  • Cranky was meant to have a non-speaking role. In the scene where Splatter and Dodge ask Diesel 10 why he let Mr. Conductor escape, Cranky would have dropped a crate of fruits and vegetables on them. In the final film, Diesel 10 is covered in coal from a hopper. Cranky's model still appears in the film, albeit as set dressing at Knapford.
  • George was going to make an appearance as one of Diesel 10's lackeys. He agreed to help Diesel 10 destroy all the buffers on Sodor to find the ones that led to the Magic Railroad and as a reward he would be allowed to destroy the turntable at Tidmouth Sheds and turn it into a roller rink, though at some point he eventually turned against Diesel 10. As his model was never taken out of storage, his role was dropped in later scripts.
  • Diesel 10 was a new engine who came to help while Sir Topham Hatt was away, instead creating problems on the railway.
  • Pinchy would have been concealed underneath Diesel 10's roof and not been revealed until Diesel 10's first meeting with Splatter and Dodge.
  • Diesel 10's claw originally was not named. When Neil Crone was emphasising dialogue in the recording studio, he came up with Pinchy. The team loved it, so it stayed.
  • Burnett Stone was given the task of being Lady's caretaker by the Conductor family.
  • The railway was undergoing major repairs throughout the film, which would explain why Tidmouth Sheds was under repair in the final cut.
  • Mr. Conductor would have remained in his original size of ten inches on the Island of Sodor in certain scenes. The items in Sir Topham Hatt's office are described as being as large as him and he would have slept in a small hammock in Tidmouth Sheds instead of a bed.
  • The scene where Thomas was meant to be covered in dust by Harold was intended to carry on through the night at Tidmouth Sheds, with Diesel 10 dumping sneezing powder down Thomas' funnel.
  • The windmill was not the location of the clue to the source of the gold dust. Instead, it was a large waterfall that Mr. Conductor had to climb up to retrieve a sheet of paper.
  • Lady originally did not speak. Her only ways of communicating would be through telepathy with Thomas on Muffle Mountain and her whistle. She was later given a speaking role in order to smooth over cuts to the final film.
  • In the original script, the differences between British and American terminology were acknowledged and occasionally poked fun at. The engines would continue to refer to Sir Topham Hatt as "The Fat Controller" and also corrected Mr. Conductor when he mistakenly said "Sodor Railroad" instead of "Railway."
  • Junior was originally described as being an English character. His nationality was changed after Michael E. Rodgers was cast for the role.
  • Patch was originally intended to be Irish.
  • Mr. Conductor escapes Diesel 10's claw by cutting a blue/green wire instead of the hydraulic hose he cuts in the final film. Instead of being catapulted to the windmill by Diesel 10's claw, Mr. Conductor would have bounced off a bush before landing at the windmill.
  • Splatter and Dodge were not meant to reform; instead, George would have been the one who turned against them, telling them to destroy the magic buffers themselves. They try to do so, but bump into each-other and derail. In another script, George would have helped Junior and James defeat the two diesels by pushing a boulder onto their line, trapping them on a siding.
  • In the original script, Thomas does not stop to pick up the missing coal truck despite recognising it and only realises its significance after he reaches Muffle Mountain. Lily makes the same connection and Patch and his horse are sent to retrieve the truck. The horse's hooves are permanently etched with gold dust, allowing it to go down the Magic Railroad.
  • In the original script, Thomas is knocked off of Muffle Mountain by an explosion caused by P.T. Boomer. In the final release, the ground under him simply crumbles away.
  • After Diesel 10 and P.T. Boomer fall into the barge, they would have either vanished or would have been turned into boiler sludge via Junior's magic bandanna, who arrived at the Big Dipper by Percy.
  • James and Percy were originally present in the ending at the wishing well, but were later cut from the scene.
  • The ending would have seen Lily, now married to Patch, finishing the story with her children, who are on a picnic and looking through a scrapbook with pictures from Sodor. They can be seen walking together with their horse in the shot viewing Shining Time Station.

Release

Thomas and the Magic Railroad was released theatrically in the United Kingdom and Ireland on 14th July 2000 and the United States and Canada on 26th July 2000. The film premiered at the Odeon Leicester Square; for the purpose, a steam locomotive, LMS Fowler 3F no. 47298, painted to resemble Thomas, was brought to the cinema by low-loader on 9th July 2000. National press coverage was low, as many journalists were concentrating on the launch of the Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire book, for which a special train called "Hogwarts Express" would run on 8th - 11th July. In September 2020, it was announced that the film would be re-released in theaters on October 24, 2020 for the film's 20th anniversary.

Home media

Thomas and the Magic Railroad was released onto VHS and DVD on 19th October 2000 in the United Kingdom and Ireland by Warner Home Video and in the United States on 31st October 2000 by Columbia TriStar Home Video. In 2007, the Double Feature with The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland was released.[2]

Shout! Factory had planned to release the movie on Blu-Ray and DVD to celebrate the film's 20th anniversary on 9th June 2020,[3][4]but the date has been pushed back due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On 15th July 2020, a day after the original release for the movie in the UK and Ireland, Britt Allcroft announced on her Facebook page the official press release for the 20th Anniversary Blu-ray.[5] The combo pack was released on 29th September 2020. The release featured new interviews with the cast and crew (including Mara Wilson and Alec Baldwin), "The Making of Thomas and the Magic Railroad" featurette previously only available on the German DVD release, and for the first time, the entire original deleted storyline featuring P.T. Boomer and narration by Lily (extracted from the film's workprint and missing final effects and ADR voiceover).

Reception

Thomas and the Magic Railroad was negatively received by critics, sporting an approval rating of 21% on Rotten Tomatoes based on reviews from 68 critics, with an average rating of 3.9/10. The site's critical consensus says "kids these days demand cutting edge special effects or at least a clever plot with cute characters. This movie has neither, having lost in its Americanisation what the British original did so right." Metacritic gives the film a score of 19 out of 100, based on reviews from 23 critics, indicating "overwhelming dislike."

Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun Times gave the film one star out of four, and wrote "(the fact) That Thomas and the Magic Railroad made it into theaters at all is something of a mystery. This is a production with 'straight to video' written all over it. Kids who like the Thomas books might kinda like it. Especially younger kids. Real younger kids. Otherwise, no." While he admired the models and art direction, he criticized how the engines' mouths did not move when they spoke, the overly depressed performance of Peter Fonda, as well as the overall lack of consistency in the plot. Elvis Mitchell of The New York Times gave the film a 3/5 rating, saying, "Mr. Baldwin's attack -- there's no better way to put it -- is unforgettable." However, he had a positive, saying, It's very slow, though it does offer a respite from the overactive animation that kids are mostly subjected to. Kaleem Aftab of The List, stated, "For those under-tens, Thomas and the Magic Railroad will be a great way to spend a school holiday afternoon."

William Thomas of Empire gave the film a one out of five stars, he was critical of the films special effects, stating, "But, believe it or not, the true villains of the piece are, in fact, the 'special' effects. Quite how – in today's era of slo-mo and seamless digital wizardry – such a shoddy result can have been achieved is anyone's guess. With clunky bluescreen, spot-a-mile-off matte work and an absolute lack of synergy between real-life and animated action, it all conspires to provide an appropriately amateur sheen." Plugged In stated, "While the animation maintains its simple appearance, the plot is anything but simple. And that's not good news for the many tots who make up the majority of Thomas' audience. Switching back and forth between Shining Time and Sodor, interweaving two relatively complex story lines, may confuse more than it challenges. Parents may well find that their children are squirming in their seats long before Thomas rides his magic rails into the sunset. That said, and the magic notwithstanding, tikes who do manage to grasp the complex story lines, and can sit still for an hour and a half, will learn good lessons about friendship, courage, hard work and being kind." Neil Minow of Common Sense Media gave the film three out of five stars and writing that it "will please [Thomas fans]" but that the plot "might confuse kids."

The film was also a partial box office flop, grossing $19.7 million compared to its $19 million budget. During its second week of screening in Britain it only took in £170,000 (roughly $215,000 in the United States).

Awards and Nominations

  • Nomination - YoungStar Awards - Best Young Actress/Performance in a Motion Picture Comedy, 2000, to Mara Wilson
  • Nomination - Young Artists Awards - Best Performance in a Feature Film - Leading Young Actress, 2001, to Mara Wilson

Trivia

  • One of the working titles for the film was Thomas and the Rainbow Railway.
  • According to Britt Allcroft, the film was partially inspired by the fourth series episode, Thomas and the Special Letter.[6]
  • Different versions of the original script can be found online.
  • According to David Axford, David Mitton had desired to incorporate characters from the TUGS franchise into the film as a tie-in through a scene where Thomas encountered them on a seaside run by. Many of their models were shipped over from the United Kingdom, but none were ultimately used in the film.[7] Sadly, many of the models were damaged or destroyed during their transportation back to the United Kingdom.
  • John Barry originally signed on to be the film's composer, but left the project due to scheduling conflicts. He is still credited as the composer on the 1999 US teaser poster.
  • Before the film was released, a sequel was already being developed by Destination Films. However, due to the negative reception and poor box office performance, the sequel was cancelled.[8]
  • This film marks the first of many things:
    • The first movie distributed by ABC Films along with ABC for Kids.
    • The first film to feature separate voice actors for the characters in the English dub and the first Thomas production to use this format. This is the only time to use CGI animation until Thomas and the Billboard. Also, this would not be done again until nine years later, with 2009's Hero of the Rails, the first full CGI Thomas production, all the way to the twenty-fourth series.
    • The first appearance of Thomas' shocked face having his bucktooth disappear since the second series episode, The Runaway, which continued to appear until the twelfth series.
    • The first in the series to have a railroad crossing sound effect.
    • The first appearance of the watermill since the third series episode, Thomas, Percy and the Post Train.
    • The first appearance of James' smug face re-casted as his sleeping face.
    • The first flim not to feature the Skarloey Railway and its engines since their introduction in the fourth series, the second would be Tale of the Brave.
  • This film marks the only of a few things:
    • The only Thomas & Friends film to feature live actors. Not counting the CGI Specials.
    • The only production to have a first-person narrative until the twenty-second series episode, Number One Engine.
    • The only appearances of Lady and Diesel 10 until Calling All Engines!
    • The only appearances of Splatter and Dodge to date, not counting that they were originally going to be included in the CGI Specials, Day of the Diesels and The Great Race, because they were dropped or replaced.
    • The only time where Diesel 10's spooked and worried facial expressions are used on screen.
    • The only theatrical Thomas film to get released until the Untitled Marc Forster Film. A second theatrical film named The Adventures of Thomas was in development by HiT Entertainment sometime around 2010, but appears to have been cancelled after years of repeated postponement. Many of the CGI specials also received brief theatrical runs.
    • The only appearance of Killaban to date.
  • This film marks the last of a few things:
    • The last Thomas and Friends production ever to be produced in the 20th century.
    • The last production where Thomas' original wincing face mask is used. A new one would be gained for the seventh series until The Great Discovery.
    • Mara Wilson's last major film role before her ten year retirement from acting. She returned to the acting profession around 2016.
    • The last time in the franchise where a character says "Stupid" and "Shut Up," likely to reduce more crass language on the show.
    • The last VHS/DVD to be released by DVD Acadamy in South Korea.
  • This is the longest Thomas & Friends production ever made, running at 85 minutes in the final cut while running at 110 minutes in the uncut version.
  • Phil Fehrle and Shelley-Elizabeth Skinner made cameos in the film.
  • Didi Conn is the only actress from Shining Time Station to reprise her role in the film.
  • Edward was never featured in any script of the film. According to an interview with Phil Fehrle, there was not enough screen time or opportunity to utilise him in a way that added any real value to the film.[9].
  • Twinkle Toes, the nickname that Diesel 10 uses to call Mr. Conductor and Junior, would be used by him once again with Sidney in the seventeenth series episode, The Missing Christmas Decorations.
  • John Bellis, the original voice of Thomas, is credited as "transportation co-ordinator."
  • People that worked on the original series also worked on this film. Namely, David Mitton (as model unit creative consultant), David Eves (as model SFX supervisor), Stephen Asquith (as model supervisor) and Terence Permane (as director of photography for the models section).
  • In the trailers, Mr. Conductor is heard saying "I've run out of gold dust and because of that I'm losing my energy as well," a line originally from the Director's Cut.
  • The English and a couple foreign theatrical trailers played "The World is New" by Save Ferris, with music done by Nick Phoenix. The same was done with the Japanese theatrical trailer, but it replaced some of the original music with bits of the original Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends theme.
  • In the Australian trailer, P.T. Boomer makes an appearance, a rod is connected to Thomas' coupling hook and Thomas and Diesel 10 have their original voices.
  • Despite his role being cut, P.T. Boomer still makes a few appearances in the final film. He appears lying on top of Diesel 10's roof in the chase scene in one scene, as a connect black cable to Diesel 10 and he makes an appearance in the "crossroads" scene in which Stacy brings Lily to Burnett Stone. Doug Lennox confirmed that the original scene would have seen Boomer confront Burnett about Lady's whereabouts and was re-dubbed when his role was cut out.[1]
  • All of the engines and road vehicles have different whistle and horn sounds. Thomas and Percy still use the same whistle sounds, but are slightly modified. In addition, some engines share the same whistle sound; Gordon and James both use the same whistle, as do Henry and Percy. Additionally, Toby's bell sound changes the second time since the second series, but this time, another bell sound sounds slightly different. Bertie's horn is the same as the one used in the first to third series, but in a higher pitch.
  • In the first teaser for the film, Thomas has his regular whistle sound.
  • According to multiple SiF interviews, several of the models were either damaged or lost in transit after being shipped from Toronto to Shepperton.
  • The film was shot in a 4:3 fullscreen frame and later matted into a 1.85:1 widescreen image for theatrical release; the UK and Irish DVD as well as the film on Sprout and Starz airings was rendered in full frame as a letterboxed widescreen image.
  • The Digital HD Copy, and 20th Anniversary Shout! Factory Blu-Ray are the only official ways to own the movie in 16:9 widescreen.
  • The top and bottom of the image are cropped in the widescreen release, but some shots and scenes were produced in widescreen 16:9 like when Burnett says "Well done, Thomas! Well done," before blowing Lady's whistle after Thomas crossed the viaduct that was about to collapse.
  • The posters of Sir Topham Hatt reading "Sir Topham Needs You" featured throughout the film are a reference to the Lord Kitchener and Uncle Sam recruiting posters.
  • Despite Sir Topham Hatt's voice being unintelligible over the phone, it is still changed in the foreign language dubs.
  • Although human actors are used for the film, Lady Hatt and Bertie's driver still appear as models.
  • Aside from Bertie's driver, Sodor appears to be entirely devoid of people, including the engines' crews, guards and workmen, thus making the engines self-driven. Despite this, the passengers' shadows can be seen in some of the coaches' windows.
  • The town beside Knapford is replaced with trees, but many cottages and houses are seen during the windmill or at Knapford.
  • Scrap models of Thomas, Gordon, City of Truro, Toad and Donald or Douglas appear in the smelters yard scenes.
  • The Hollywoodedge, Air Brake Hiss Truck PE079201 sound effect is heard when Diesel 10 stops.
  • One of Flying Scotsman's tenders, painted black, can be seen as Thomas backs into the siding next to James.
  • In the deleted scene of Splatter and Dodge at the Smelters yard, they are both wearing their different masks that did not appear in the final film.
  • Aside the engines' drivers, Burnett Stone somehow is seen to drive and operate Lady.
  • In the double-length twenty-fourth series episode, Thomas and the Royal Engine, Thomas says "Little engines can do big things" which is a reference to the film's tag line.
  • The scene where Mr. Conductor is in Sir Topham Hatt's Office, pictures of the engines from past series episode, such as No Joke for James, Tender Engines, A Surprise for Percy and Thomas, Percy and Old Slow Coach, are seen.
  • The film aired on the US channel Sprout on 3rd July and 11th July 2015 and, like with the UK and Irish DVD, was fitted as a cropped widescreen image.
  • For unknown reasons, when the film aired on the Playhouse Disney channel in Australia in July 2007, the scene with Junior surfing on Diesel 10 was cut after he says "Oh no, my beach bag!"
  • This film, Big World! Big Adventures!, Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure, Tale of the Brave and King of the Railway are the only known specials to have been dubbed in Hebrew.
  • The Korean VHS/DVD does not have UK or US company's logo however, it did have the DVD Acadamy's logo.
  • The Korean VHS/DVD are voiced over English Korean dubs.

Goofs

  • Excluding cab shots, Thomas and Percy's cab doors are missing throughout the entirety of the film. However, Thomas' cab doors appear in some shots and in some close up shots of his cab.
  • In the beginning scene where the engines greet each other, James says hello to Thomas, even though the latter is nowhere to be seen in the shot, although his shadow can be seen. This was fixed in the Japanese dub, when James was actually saying hello to Gordon.
  • When Thomas says "If Diesel has unfinished business..." his siderods stop moving.
  • A car disappears and reappears at the shed beside Diesel 10 when he is conversing with Thomas and James.
  • During the engines' conversation about Lady at Tidmouth Sheds, the bottom of Percy's smokebox saddle was white in one shot, and his smokebox saddle is black. Then they both turn green for the rest of that scene and during Diesel 10's invasion at the sheds during the evening. For the rest of the film, the smokebox saddle is black, but it becomes green again when Percy tells Thomas that they need to get Lily back to Burnett. That is because of the perspex and brass models both being used together in the film.
  • When Diesel 10 asks "Where's that lost engine?" Gordon's face is coming loose.
  • When Thomas bumps the sixth and last truck full of coal into the magic buffers, the fifth one derails.
  • For most of the film, Clarabel is facing the wrong way and in a scene during "Really Useful Engine," she is in front of Annie.
  • As Diesel 10 leaves after overhearing Thomas and Percy, a red wire can be seen in his cab.
  • After Diesel 10 is covered in coal, Henry can be seen puffing backwards next to Gordon, but in the next shot, he is near Splatter and Dodge.
  • In a close-up of Percy finding Splatter and Dodge at the magic buffers, his lamp mysteriously moves.
  • After Lily tells Thomas he is "a really useful engine," Thomas' coal truck disappears. Later in the next scene, it reappears.
  • When Junior is flung into the air, the scene shifts to the right. This goof occurs in the full screen version only.
  • James' whistle disappears in the scene of Junior falling on his cab roof, but reappears later when he and Junior are teleported to the grotto.
  • As Thomas crosses the viaduct gap, a rope can be seen pulling him.
  • During the song Really Useful Engine, the captions read "Now he's got a workshop" instead of "Now he's got a branch line."
  • After the chase scene when Lily gives gold dust to Mr. Conductor and Junior, part of the green screen effect on Mr. Conductor's left elbow can be seen.
  • Sodor is misspelled as "Sodar" on the back cover in some early American VHS releases.
  • For some reason, on some digital prints of the film in the United States, the first eleven seconds of the Destination Films logo are cut off and the Samuel Goldwyn Films logo plays instead, despite them having no involvement in the film's production or distribution.
  • In the end credits, Bertie and Harold are under the voice cast for the trains.
  • In the chase scene, Diesel 10 is on a different track, but later right before he falls off the viaduct, he is on the same track as Thomas and Lady.
  • When Diesel 10 zooms past Thomas and Gordon, Thomas shifts a bit, his eyes are misaligned, and a small piece of hair flies on his face.
  • When Diesel 10, and Thomas leave the sheds, the edge of the set can be seen.
  • During the chase, when Diesel 10 goes under the tunnel, P.T. Boomer's figurine can be seen on his roof. Despite his role being cut before the film's release.
  • In the close up of Percy in the shed his eyes are misaligned, and James' tender is crooked.
  • When Gordon teases Thomas about being small at the sheds, his buffers are crooked.
  • After Diesel 10 leaves the sheds, the engines are clean, but moments later, they are all covered in dust.
  • At one point, when Mr. Conductor talks to James, his voice slightly echoes as he is inside the sheds, even though he is not.
  • When Thomas reads the sign, his eyes move from left to right, meaning he is reading the sign backwards.

In Other Languages

Language Title
Brazilian Portuguese Thomas e a Ferrovia Mágica
Thomas e a Estrada Mágica
Chinese 托马斯和不可思议的铁路
Dutch Thomas en de Magische Spoorbaan
French Thomas et la Voie Ferrée Magique
Thomas et le Chemin de Fer Magique
German Thomas: Die Fantastische Lokomotive
Greek Ο μαγικός κόσμος του Τόμας
Hebrew תומס ומסילת הקסמים
Hungarian Thomas és a mágikus vasút
Japanese きかんしゃトーマス 魔法の線路
Korean 토마스와 마법 기차
Russian Томас и волшебная железная дорога
Slovenian Tomaž in Čarobnost Železnice
Spanish Thomas y el Tren Mágico
Thomas y el Ferrocarril Mágico
Thai ทางรถไฟเวทย์มนตร์

Trailers and Featurettes

References


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