Was the Sequel to the Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Re-Worked Into Big Trouble in Little China?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about movies and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the movie urban legends featured so far.

MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: The sequel to Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension was re-worked into the screenplay for Big Trouble in Little China.

Reader Devin wrote in suggesting a legend that was, well, just like the one I posted – was the sequel to Adventures of Buckaroo Banzia Across the Eighth Dimension re-worked into the screenplay for Big Trouble in Little China?

Big Trouble in Little China began in 1982 as a Fantasy/Western screenplay, with the Jack Burton character a cowboy and the whole thing set at the turn of the 20th Century in San Francisco. At this time, it was written by the film’s original screenwriters, Gary Goldman and David Z. Weinstein.

The studios liked the basic idea of the screenplay (doing an adventure film mixing Western heroics with Eastern mysticism), but disliked everything else, particularly the whole “set in the past” aspect of the script.

So after purchasing the script, the insisted the screenwriters update the story to modern times. When they balked at the changes, the studio had them removed.

In stepped W. D. Richter, writer and director of Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension, a very cool, off-kilter science fiction adventure film from 1984.

Sadly, while the film has achieved the level of “cult classic” in the years since its release, at the time, it was not a particularly profitable movie.

It did so poorly that the sequel to the film that was promised during the end credits (see below) never materialized…

So since the sequel never showed up, people presumed that Buckaroo Banzai Against The World Crime League was just re-worked into Big Trouble in Little China.


Not true.

Richter substantially re-wrote Goldman and Weinstein’s screenplay (to the point where Richter tried to get credit for writing it himself – but the Writers Guild of America ruled that Goldman and Weinstein would still receive “story by” credit, and Richter simply listed as the adapter of their work), but the very general framework of the film remained the same from the original screenplay (Jack Burton gets into trouble in Chinatown).

Richter just re-wrote it all set in modern times (with new dialogue, news scenes, etc.).

John Carpenter (director of the film) then did some re-writes himself.

The released film was dramatically different than the original screenplay, but it WAS based on the original screenplay, not the sequel to Buckaroo Banzai.

The legend is…


Thanks so much to Devin for writing in with the suggestion!

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is bcronin@legendsrevealed.com.

2 Responses to “Was the Sequel to the Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Re-Worked Into Big Trouble in Little China?”

  1. I think it was Richter (it was definitely someone connected with the film) who said he’d tried to get the rights from Paramount and take the sequel to another company but whoever had the final say HATED the movie and wouldn’t agree.
    The special edition DVD is awesome. There’s a screen crawl that reveals fascinating “facts” such as various characters being agents of the World Crime League, etc.

  2. This is one of those times when the studio suits were right. /Big Trouble in Little China/ would be not be the classic it is if it had been a western, set in the past

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