The Cannon Group
|Founded||October 23, 1967|
Christopher C. Dewey
(Also owned studios and cinema chains throughout the UK, Israel and Europe)
Christopher C. Dewey
Ovidio G. Assonitis
Cinema Chains (UK & Europe)
MGM from Warner Bros. Pictures
The Cannon Group Inc. was an American group of companies, including Cannon Films, which produced a distinctive line of low- to medium-budget films from 1967 to 1993. The extensive group also owned, amongst others, a large international cinema chain and a video film company that invested heavily in the video market, buying the international video rights to several classic film libraries.
The company was much more popular in the United Kingdom than in its native United States, which is indicative as to why the group owned several cinema chains in the UK.
Cannon Films was incorporated on October 23, 1967. It was formed by Dennis Friedland and Chris Dewey while they were in their early 20s. By 1970, they had produced films on a larger production scale than a lot of major distributors, such as Joe, starring Peter Boyle. They managed this by tightly limiting their budgets to $300,000 per picture—or less, in some cases. However, as the 1970s moved on, a string of unsuccessful movies seriously drained Cannon’s capital. This, along with changes to film-production tax laws, led to a drop in Cannon's stock price. Other notable films co-produced by Friedland and Dewey included The Blood on Satan's Claw and Michael Reeves' The Sorcerers.
1979–1985: Golan Globus era
By 1979, Cannon had hit serious financial difficulties, and Friedland and Dewey sold Cannon to Israeli cousins Menahem Golan (who had directed The Apple) and Yoram Globus for $500,000. The two cousins forged a business model of buying barrel-bottom scripts and putting them into production.
They tapped into a ravenous market for action B-pictures in the 1980s. Although they are most remembered for the Death Wish sequels and Chuck Norris action pictures such as The Delta Force and Invasion U.S.A., and even the vigilante thriller Exterminator 2 (the sequel to 1980’s The Exterminator), Cannon’s output was actually far more varied, with musical and comedy films such as Breakin’, Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo, The Last American Virgin, and the U.S. release of The Apple; period drama pictures such as Lady Chatterley's Lover (1981), Bolero, and Mata Hari (1985); science fiction and fantasy films such as Hercules, Lifeforce and The Barbarians; as well as serious pictures such as John Cassavetes’ Love Streams, Zeffirelli’s Otello (a film version of the Verdi opera), Norman Mailer’s Tough Guys Don’t Dance, Andrei Konchalovsky’s Runaway Train, and Shy People; and action/adventure films such as the 3-D Treasure of the Four Crowns, King Solomon’s Mines, Cobra and American Ninja.
One of Cannon’s biggest hits was the Vietnam action B-movie Missing in Action, with Chuck Norris. The film, however, was criticized heavily as being a preemptive cash-in on the Rambo film series. James Cameron's story treatment for Rambo: First Blood Part II was floating around Hollywood in 1983, which Golan and Globus reviewed and were "inspired" by. The writers of MIA even gave Cameron credit saying their film was inspired by his script treatment. But Cannon had initially put the prequel Missing in Action 2: The Beginning into production. Only after the two movies were completed had the company realized that the planned second movie was superior to the first one. So, the first movie produced became an awkward prequel.
During these years, Cannon worked with entertainment-advertising company Design Projects, Inc. for most of the one-sheet posters, trade advertising, and large billboards prominently displayed at the Cannes Film Festival each year. Substantial pre-sales of the next years' films were made based on the strong salesmanship skills of Golan, Danny Dimbort, and the advertising created by Design Projects. The deposits made from these sales financed production of the first film in the production line-up, which—when completed and delivered to theatre owners around the world—generated enough money to make the next film in the line-up. Slavenburg's Bank in the Netherlands provided bridge financing until the pre-sales amounts were collected.
1986–1989: Later years
By 1986, when company earnings reached their apex with 43 films in one year, Cannon Films shares had soared a hundredfold. Golan remained Chairman of the Board, while Globus served as President.
During this year, Cannon Films released Robotech: The Movie (also called Robotech: The Untold Story) for a limited run in Mesquite, Texas, a suburb of Dallas. Cannon was reportedly unsatisfied with Carl Macek’s first version of the movie, which was almost a straight adaptation of the anime Megazone 23. It was at their insistence that footage from The Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross (the series adapted as the Robotech Masters segment of the Robotech TV series) and Megazone 23 be spliced together to produce a more action-oriented movie. Macek recalls that although he was unhappy with this revised version, Menahem Golan, after viewing it, happily said: "Now that’s a Cannon movie!" Nevertheless, Robotech: The Movie was unsuccessful in its brief Texas run and saw no further release. Carl Macek has gone on record as disowning it.
Film critic Roger Ebert said of Golan-Globus in 1987, "no other production organization in the world today—certainly not any of the seven Hollywood "majors"—has taken more chances with serious, marginal films than Cannon." That year, Cannon gained its greatest artistic success: its Dutch production The Assault won the 1986 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and a Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Meanwhile Otello, based on the opera of the same name also received a Golden Globe nomination that year.
Golan and Cannon Films were famous for making huge announcements and over-promoting movies that did not live up to expectations—or even exist. For instance, Lifeforce (1985) was to be "the cinematic sci-fi event of the '80s" and Masters of the Universe (1987) was dubbed "the Star Wars of the '80s."
Additionally, Cannon owned the film rights to Spider-Man, and planned to make a Spider-Man movie in the mid-1980s. Golan and Globus agreed to pay Marvel Comics $225,000 over the five-year option period, plus a percentage of the film’s revenues. The rights would revert to Marvel if a film was not made by April 1990. Marvel and Columbia would eventually complete a film several years later for director Sam Raimi, after the rights had been resecured.
Pathé ownership and popularity in the UK
By 1988, a cooling of the film market and a series of box office flops—including the multi-million dollar production of Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987), whose original $36-million budget was slashed to $17 million—had once again put Cannon in financial woes. The company signed an agreement with Warner Bros. to handle part of their assets; however, the financial loss was staggering. Having purchased Thorn EMI's Screen Entertainment division in 1986, Cannon Films was severely stretched, and faced bankruptcy. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission began an investigation into Cannon's financial reports, suspecting that Cannon had fraudulently misstated them.
On the verge of failure, Cannon Films was taken over by Pathé Communications, a holding company controlled by Italian financier Giancarlo Parretti. Financed by the French bank Credit Lyonnais, Pathé Communications' takeover of Cannon immediately began a corporate restructuring and refinancing of $250 million to pay off Cannon debt. By 1989, Golan, citing differences with both Parretti and Globus, resigned from his position and left Cannon to start 21st Century Film Corporation, while Globus remained with Pathé.
One of the final movies produced by the team of Golan and Globus that received a wide release under the Cannon Films banner was the Jean-Claude Van Damme post-apocalyptic action film Cyborg. This film was conceived to use both the costumes and sets built for an intended sequel to Masters of the Universe and the ill-fated live-action version of Spider-Man. Both projects were planned to shoot simultaneously under the direction of Albert Pyun. After Cannon Films had to cancel deals with both Mattel and Marvel Entertainment because of their financial troubles, they needed to recoup the money spent on both projects.
As part of his severance package from Pathé, Golan took the rights to Marvel’s characters Spider-Man and Captain America. (Golan was able to put Captain America into production, and released it directly to video through his 21st Century Film Corporation, while, as aforementioned, Columbia would eventually take Spider-Man to production for 2002 release.) Not to let that pre-production work go to waste, Pyun wrote Cyborg, with Chuck Norris in mind, suggesting it to Cannon Films. Jean-Claude Van Damme was cast in the lead role. Some television stations still give the film’s title as Masters of the Universe 2: Cyborg.
Cannon's films proved to be much more popular in the United Kingdom than in its native United States, which is why Cannon acquired several British cinema chains during the 1980s, and founded the mail-order video distribution service Videolog as a joint venture with Columbia House Europe, Ltd. in the mid-1980s.
1990–1993: Relaunch and demise
Following Golan's departure from Cannon Films, he became the head of 21st Century Film Corporation. Globus continued working with Parretti at Pathé.
When Pathé took over control of MGM/UA in 1990 as part of the MGM-Pathé merger, a majority of the Cannon Films library became part of the MGM library (certain rights for other media and select films during the Thorn EMI merger now lie with other entities). During Parretti's tenure at MGM and Warner Bros., he appointed Globus as president of the studio for a brief period of time.
In 1990, Parretti reorganized Cannon Pictures, Inc. as the low-budget distribution arm of Pathé. Veteran Italian film producer Ovidio G. Assonitis served as Chairman and CEO of the new Cannon Pictures from 1990 to 1991. After the MGM-Pathe merger, Cannon Pictures spun off from Pathé, and was later run by former Cannon Group production head Christopher Pearce, who served as Chairman and CEO from 1991 to 1994. Cannon Pictures continued to release films, including A Man Called Sarge, American Ninja 4: The Annihilation and No Place to Hide.
Parretti was pushed out of management control of MGM in 1991 by Credit Lyonnais, after he defaulted on loan payments. Parretti was later convicted of perjury and evidence tampering in a Delaware court for statements he made in a 1991 civil case, brought by Credit Lyonnais to validate their removal of Parretti, to the effect that a document he claimed allowed him to retain control of MGM was authentic; he fled the country for Italy before he could be sentenced or extradited to France, where he was wanted on criminal charges related to his use of MGM's French assets.
In 1997, the California Superior Court in Los Angeles entered a final judgement in a separate civil suit against Parretti, ordering him to pay $1.48 billion to Credit Lyonnais. After Federal prosecutors unsealed an indictment against Parretti and Florio Fiorini accusing them of fraud in 1999, Italian authorities arrested both men and held them for extradition to the United States. Parretti was released by the court of appeal in Perugia shortly thereafter, ordered to remain in his home town of Orvieto and report to the police three times a week, even though authorities in Rome had requested he be held pending a decision on the extradition.
The 1988 Golan-Globus film Alien from L.A., starring model Kathy Ireland, was used as the basis of episode #516 of the movie-mocking television show Mystery Science Theater 3000. In 1993, Cannon Pictures released its last film Street Knight before it closed down. Yoram Globus and Christopher Pearce later joined 21st Century Film Corporation until 1996.
Golan continued to produce and direct films until his passing on August 8, 2014. Globus is the president of Globus Max, which has interests in film production and distribution and runs a 140-screen cinema chain in Israel.
In 2014 there were two documentary films released about Cannon Films. Ratpac Entertainment released Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films, a documentary about Cannon Films, written and directed by Mark Hartley, and produced by Brett Ratner. That same year, the Israeli documentary The Go-Go Boys: The Inside Story of Cannon Films was launched at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival.
List of Golan-Globus productions
|The Happy Hooker Goes Hollywood||June 4, 1980||Roberts, AlanAlan Roberts|
|Schizoid||September 3, 1980||Paulsen, DavidDavid Paulsen|
|Enter the Ninja||October 2, 1980||Golan, MenahemMenahem Golan|
|Dr. Heckyl and Mr. Hype||October 9, 1980||Griffith, Charles B.Charles B. Griffith|
|The Apple||November 21, 1980||Golan, MenahemMenahem Golan|
|New Year's Evil||December 3, 1980||Alston, EmmettEmmett Alston|
|Hospital Massacre||October 16, 1981||Davidson, BoazBoaz Davidson|
|Body and Soul||October 23, 1981||Bowers, GeorgeGeorge Bowers|
|Death Wish II||February 20, 1982||Winner, MichaelMichael Winner||Co-production with Filmways Pictures|
|Lady Chatterley's Lover||May 7, 1982||Jaeckin, JustJust Jaeckin|
|The Last American Virgin||July 30, 1982||Davidson, BoazBoaz Davidson|
|That Championship Season||December 9, 1982||Miller, JasonJason Miller|
|10 to Midnight||March 11, 1983||Thompson, J. LeeJ. Lee Thompson|
|Nana, the True Key of Pleasure||June 13, 1983||Wolman, DanDan Wolman|
|House of the Long Shadows||June 17, 1983||Walker, PetePete Walker|
|Hercules||August 26, 1983||Cozzi, LuigiLuigi Cozzi||Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer|
|Revenge of the Ninja||September 16, 1983||Firstenberg, SamSam Firstenberg|
|Breakin'||May 4, 1984||Silberg, JoelJoel Silberg|
|Making the Grade||May 18, 1984||Walker, DorianDorian Walker|
|Sword of the Valiant||August 17, 1984||Weeks, StephenStephen Weeks|
|Love Streams||August 24, 1984||Cassavetes, JohnJohn Cassavetes|
|Bolero||August 31, 1984||Derek, JohnJohn Derek|
|Exterminator 2||September 14, 1984||Buntzman, MarkMark Buntzman|
|Ninja III: The Domination||September 14, 1984||Firstenberg, SamSam Firstenberg|
|Missing in Action||November 16, 1984||Zito, JosephJoseph Zito|
|Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo||December 21, 1984||Firstenberg, SamSam Firstenberg|
|The Ambassador||January 11, 1985||Thompson, J. LeeJ. Lee Thompson|
|Missing in Action 2: The Beginning||March 2, 1985||Hool, LanceLance Hool|
|The Company of Wolves||April 19, 1985||Jordan, NeilNeil Jordan|
|The Assisi Underground||May 3, 1985||Ramati, AlexanderAlexander Ramati|
|Rappin'||May 11, 1985||Silberg, JoelJoel Silberg|
|Grace Quigley||May 17, 1985||Harvey, AnthonyAnthony Harvey|
|Lifeforce||June 21, 1985||Hooper, TobeTobe Hooper|
|Runaway Train||December 6, 1985||Konchalovsky, AndreiAndrei Konchalovsky|
|American Ninja||August 30, 1985|
|Mata Hari||September 1985|
|Invasion U.S.A.||September 27, 1985|
|Death Wish III||November 1, 1985|
|King Solomon's Mines||November 22, 1985|
|The Delta Force||February 14, 1986|
|The Naked Cage||March 7, 1986|
|America 3000||April 1986|
|Behind Enemy Lines||April 1986|
|Dangerously Close||May 9, 1986|
|Cobra||May 23, 1986|
|Invaders from Mars||June 6, 1986|
|Robotech: The Movie||July 25, 1986||Not released in the US|
|The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2||August 22, 1986||Co-production with Europa Films|
|Lightning, the White Stallion||August 1986|
|Otello||September 12, 1986|
|Avenging Force||September 12, 1986|
|52 Pick-Up||November 7, 1986|
|Firewalker||November 21, 1986|
|Duet for One||December 25, 1986|
|Assassination||January 9, 1987|
|Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold||January 30, 1987|
|The Assault||February 6, 1987|
|Over the Top||February 13, 1987||Co-production with Warner Bros.|
|Number One with a Bullet||February 25, 1987|
|Street Smart||March 20, 1987|
|Down Twisted||March 1987|
|The Barbarians||March 1987||Co-production with Warner Bros.|
|American Ninja 2: The Confrontation||May 1, 1987|
|Superman IV: The Quest for Peace||July 24, 1987||Co-production with Warner Bros.|
|Masters of the Universe||August 7, 1987|
|King Lear||September 15, 1987|
|Tough Guys Don't Dance||September 18, 1987|
|Surrender||October 9, 1987|
|Barfly||October 16, 1987|
|Death Wish 4: The Crackdown||November 6, 1987|
|Shy People||December 1987|
|Under Cover||December 4, 1987|
|Braddock: Missing in Action III||January 22, 1988||Co-production with Warner Bros.|
|Going Bananas||February 12, 1988||Co-production with Warner Bros.|
|Alien from L.A.||February 26, 1988|
|Bloodsport||February 26, 1988||Co-production with Universal Studios|
|Mercenary Fighters||February 1988|
|Storm||April 1, 1988|
|Appointment with Death||April 15, 1988|
|Powaqqatsi||April 29, 1988|
|Salsa||May 7, 1988|
|Hero and the Terror||August 26, 1988|
|Doin' Time on Planet Earth||September 16, 1988|
|Little Dorrit||October 21, 1988|
|Platoon Leader||October 1988|
|Evil Angels (A Cry in the Dark)||November 11, 1988|
|Hanna's War||November 23, 1988|
|Manifesto||January 27, 1989|
|Kinjite: Forbidden Subjects||February 3, 1989|
|American Ninja 3: Blood Hunt||February 24, 1989|
|Cyborg||April 7, 1989|
|The Fruit Machine||April 28, 1989|
|Business as Usual||May 19, 1989|
|Kickboxer||September 8, 1989|
|Crack House||November 10, 1989|
|American Ninja 4: The Annihilation||March 8, 1990|
|Delta Force 2: The Colombian Connection||August 24, 1990|
|Delta Force 3: The Killing Game||March 22, 1991|
|The Borrower||October 19, 1991|
|The Hitman||October 25, 1991|
|Captain America||July 22, 1992||Co-production with Marvel Entertainment|
|Street Knight||March 12, 1993|
|American Ninja V||1993|
|American Cyborg: Steel Warrior||1994|
|Hellbound||April 8, 1994|
- Walker, Texas Ranger (1993-2001; first three episodes only)
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- Clarke, Gerald (2005-06-21). "Show Business: Bring Back the Moguls!". Time. Retrieved 2010-08-14.
- Lambie, Ryan (20 September 2013). "The rise and fall of Cannon Films". Den of Geek. Retrieved 11 March 2014.
- "Golan-globus Finally At Home In Hollywood". SunSentinel.com. Retrieved 2010-08-27.
- Delugach, Al (August 24, 1986). "Cannon Bid as Major Studio Is Cliffhanger Firm's Future at Risk in High-Stakes Gamble". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-12-04.
- "Missing in Action, Box Office Information". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved January 29, 2012.
- "War Movie Mondays, Missing in Action Movie Review". The Flick Cast. Retrieved January 29, 2012.
- "Box Office Flashback, December 10, 1984". Pop Dose: Pop Culture News, Reviews and Discussion. Retrieved January 29, 2012.
- "Movie Review: Missing in Action Trilogy". WordPress. Retrieved January 29, 2012.
- "Trivia for Missing in Action". IMDb. Retrieved January 29, 2012.
- Ebert, Roger (1987). Two Weeks in the Midday Sun: a Cannes notebook. Kansas City, Mo.: Andrews and McMeel. p. 109. ISBN 978-0-8362-7942-9. OCLC 16679215.
- Grover, Ronald (2002-04-15). "Unraveling Spider-Man's Tangled Web". Business Week. Retrieved 2010-08-08.
- Shprintz, Janet (1998-08-19). "Spider-Man's legal web may finally be unraveled". Variety. Retrieved 2010-08-09.
- Knoedelseder, Jr., William K. (August 7, 1987). "Cannon Group Loses $9.9 Million in Quarter". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2 July 2012.
- Cieply, Michael (January 11, 1989). "Weintraub's Worries : Box-Office Flops Add to Woes of Flashy 'Mini-Major'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2 July 2012.
- Citron, Alan; Cieply, Michael (1991-04-24). "Financing Details Add Bizarre Twist to MGM Saga". Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles). Retrieved 2010-09-25.
- "Former MGM Owner Convicted of Perjury". The New York Times (New York: The New York Times Company). 1996-10-03. Business Day. Retrieved 2010-11-12.
- Fabrikant, Geraldine (1997-06-11). "Parretti Ordered to Pay Credit Lyonnais". The New York Times (New York: The New York Times Company). Retrieved 2010-11-12.
- "Former MGM Executive Flees Before Court Date". The New York Times (New York: The New York Times Company). 1997-01-04. Business Day. Retrieved 2010-11-12.
- Pollack, Andrew (1999-10-13). "Bank Has Paid $4 Million To Settle Case Over MGM". The New York Times (New York: The New York Times Company). Retrieved 2010-11-12.
- Blitz, James (1999-10-20). "Italian financier is freed". Financial Times (London). p. 11. ISSN 0307-1766.
- Brown, Todd. "AFM 2011: Mark Hartley To Do The ELECTRIC BOOGALOO". Twitch.
- "'The Go-Go Boys': Cannes Review". Retrieved October 20, 2014.
- "A Cry in the Dark (1988) - Release dates". IMDb.com. Retrieved 2012-06-15.